The Ordeal of the Nave Andromeda Is a Confusing One

The ship was stormed in 2020 and stowaways removed. But were they ever a true threat?
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2022 4:40 PM CDT
The Stowaways Were Arrested. But Was It All a Big Lie?
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Dikuch)

(Newser) – When we covered the incident in October 2020, these were our headlines: Report: Stowaways Turn Violent on Oil Tanker and British Commandos Storm Tanker After Suspected Hijacking. In a lengthy piece for the Guardian, Samira Shackle delves into the "strange case of the Nave Andromeda," the tanker at the center of the storm. While off the English coast, the captain issued a distress call, saying seven stowaways had escaped from the room they had been locked in. Ten hours later, elite troops stormed the ship and swiftly arrested the stowaways on suspicion of "seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats." But as Shackle uncovers, the threat part seemed to be lacking, and the charges were later dropped. The stowaways actually broke out hours after the call was placed after realizing something was up when they weren't brought breakfast or lunch.

As one crew member put it, "It's not a hijack, it was just a drama. It’s a story only. A big f---ing lie." The seven men all entered in Nigerian waters, climbing into the rudder stock, which measured about six feet wide and provides no entry to the rest of the ship. The men clung on for 9 days, exposed to waves and wind and using ropes that cut into their skin. While nearing a port on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, they signaled to a tugboat, which alerted the tanker. The seven were brought aboard—and then began the ordeal of the ship trying to dock at various ports. Each one refused after learning of the stowaways; had the ship been permitted to dock, the stowaways would be allowed to enter the country to seek asylum. Food began to run low; the ship's commercial voyage had been hampered. Ten days later, the distress call was placed. (Read the full story here.)

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