Stowaways armed with iron bars threaten Thames Estuary ship’s crew

Four men detained under Immigration Act after stowaways threaten Thames Estuary ship crew

Four men detained under Immigration Act after stowaways threaten Thames Estuary ship crew

The crew were able to safely lock themselves in the bridge until help arrived.

The stowaways were found on the ship five days ago and were given food and water and placed in a cabin.

"After that, another helicopter with six policemen came and they kept them in a cabin waiting for the vessel to get in to Tilbury".

There were reports that Special Boat Service operatives fast-roped from helicopters on to the ship during the operation.

Police have said they do not believe the incident is related to terrorism or piracy and the ship has been brought to port.

Once the mission - understood to have been codenamed Operation Buckthorn - was complete, the troops were joined by police officers who arrested the stowaways.




The highly-trained team boarded the ship at about 11pm on Friday and apprehended the men under immigration law.

The Grande Tema was seen sailing in circles on Friday.

Essex Police, which oversaw the operation, said: "We have secured a vessel in the Thames Estuary".

Four stowaways threatened the Grande Tema's crew, a spokesman for the boat's operator, Grimaldi Lines, said.

The vessel was loaded with earth-moving equipment and trucks but is licensed to carry extremely unsafe cargo, according to Grimaldi spokesman Paul Kyprianou. Friday's incident ended peacefully after authorities intervened. Everything went smoothly. They [the crew] are just glad they are safe.

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