AT around 4.15pm yesterday, Sky News began reporting an incident off the south coast of the Isle of Wight involving stowaways onboard a Southampton-bound oil tanker, the Nave Andromeda.

It quickly became apparent the captain had issued a Mayday call after seven stowaways, known to have boarded the ship as it left Lagos in Nigeria, had become aggressive.

As it happened: how the County Press reported the oil tanker incident

The captain and crew locked themselves in the ship's 'citadel' (an area which is nigh-on impossible to break into and which is usually the bridge so the captain can retain control of the ship).

Soon afterwards, Hampshire Constabulary were informed and Bembridge RNLI Lifeboat, Selsey Lifeboat and the Coastguard Helicopter raced to the scene.

A five-mile exclusion zone was placed around the vessel, which could be seen from Shanklin and Cowleaze, where a number of Islanders gathered.

Isle of Wight County Press: Police at Cowleaze yesterday as the public gathered.Police at Cowleaze yesterday as the public gathered.

Speculation mounted as to whether the incident was a hijacking or not but the incident was handed over to the military by the police.

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As darkness fell, lights of ships and helicopters could be seen around the Nave Andromeda, which went into a holding pattern off the south of the Island.

A Chinook helicopter was also spotted landing at the Special Boat Service's headquarters at Poole in Dorset.

At around 7pm, the sky around the ship became alive with lights as the SBS operation began.

The ship was bathed in light and around 16 commandos from the Merlin, Wildcat and Chinook helicopters were dropped onto the deck.

Isle of Wight County Press: A Merlin helicopter similar to that used in yesterday's raid. Picture: Royal Navy.A Merlin helicopter similar to that used in yesterday's raid. Picture: Royal Navy.

In an operation said to have lasted no longer than seven minutes, the seven stowaways were detained and the ship secured.

The stowaways were flown back to the mainland and placed into custody by Hampshire Constabulary.

The ship continued to Southampton where it was seen at anchor this morning (Monday)