Police, Coastguard and Border officials are currently dealing with a “complex” incident involving stowaways aboard a container vessel in the Thames estuary.
The incident, which a Home Office spokesperson said was initially reported off the coast of Ramsgate, is thought to involve threats to crew members made by the stowaways on the Grande Tema.
The vessel was travelling from Nigeria to Tilbury.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said: “HM Coastguard is currently assisting Essex Police with an ongoing incident on a vessel in the Thames estuary.”
21 DEC: Reports of stowaways aboard Ro-Ro / container carrier Grande Tema in the Thames estuary threatening the crew pic.twitter.com/0m59fhWT22
— Mil Radar (@MIL_Radar) December 21, 2018
An Essex Police spokesperson added: “We were called at around 9.15am today, Friday, December 21, with reports of an incident on board a vessel in the Thames Estuary.
“This incident is currently ongoing and we are working closely with our partners to resolve this as quickly as possible. Enquires are ongoing.”
I think the reportedly ‘hjacked’ ship is too far out in dropping visibility. I know it well. A big red and white Grimaldi ‘Ro-Ro’ ferry which plies back and forth to Tilbury. pic.twitter.com/pvnYlLPWEj
— Simon Moores (@SimonMoores) December 21, 2018
The Italian registered vessel is currently circling in the estuary. The police spokesman added that the call “relating to the safety of crew on board” does not appear to involve any injuries.
They added: “We are not currently treating this as either a hostage, piracy or terror related incident.”
According to Sky News shipping operator Grimaldi Lines have confirmed four migrants aboard the vessel have threatened staff with iron bars.
Paul Kyprianou, of Grimaldi Lines, says the crew have locked themselves on the Bridge.