Seven Nigerian men detained after British special services stormed an oil tanker off the Isle of Wight have been released on bail, police said.
The raid was carried out by around 16 members of the Special Boat Service (SBS), supported by airborne snipers, who secured the tanker Nave Andromeda in about nine minutes.
This follows reports that stowaways boarded the ship and attempted to hijack it.
The operation was authorized by Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel on Sunday evening after a tense 10-hour confrontation.
Hampshire Police said on Thursday: “Seven men were released on bail for their involvement in the maritime security incident which took place aboard the Nave Andromeda off the Isle of Wight on Sunday 25 October.
“The seven arrested men, all of whom are Nigerian nationals, have been released on bail as part of the criminal investigation while investigators continue their investigations, but will now remain in custody under the powers of border forces.
Hampshire Police previously said the force had been alerted to concerns about the well-being of the crew of 748ft (228m) Nave Andromeda shortly after 10 a.m. on Sunday as the ship headed for Southampton, having departed Lagos in Nigeria.
The ship’s operator, Navios Tanker Management, said the stowaways boarded the Liberian-flagged tanker in Lagos.
The company revealed Monday evening that the captain, a Greek national, had remained on the bridge throughout Operation SBS in order to stay in contact with them and to continue the safe navigation of the ship.
All other crew members proceeded to a secure area of the ship except for the engineer – another Greek national – who remained in the engine room following the captain’s instructions.
The SBS is the elite maritime counterterrorism unit of the Royal Navy, with most of its personnel Royal Marine Commandos, whose operations are highly classified and not officially confirmed.
On Sunday, four military helicopters – which reportedly included two Merlin Mk4s, a Wildcat and a Chinook – took 40 staff to the suspected hijack scene aboard the Nave Andromeda and around 16 SBS members boarded the ship.
Prior to the Armed Forces action, Hampshire Police said the ship was located about six miles off the coast of Bembridge on the Isle of Wight, adding: crew. No one was reported injured. “
A three-mile radius exclusion zone was placed around the ship, and two Coast Guard helicopters were spotted circling the ship in the afternoon.