In a daring nighttime raid, British SBS commandos stormed a tanker off the Isle of Wight. They took into custody seven stowaways who were also suspected of being hijackers. 

The captain of the Nave Andromeda sent out a distress signal and asked for assistance the stowaways, all believed to be from Nigeria, threatened the crew with violence as the tanker approached the English shore. 

The ship had left Lagos, Nigeria, and was due to dock in Southhampton, England on Sunday morning. 

Navios Maritime Holdings, which owns the Greek flagged Nave Andromeda, released a statement saying that the ship’s captain radioed British authorities that stowaways had been found on board, as “he was concerned for the safety of the crew due to the increasingly hostile behavior of the stowaways.”

A spokesman for the company said that the crew had not lost control of the vessel, even as they took refuge in a secure area of the ship, known as the “citadel,” and that describing the incident as a hijacking was inaccurate.

However, the British Ministry of Defense characterized the situation as a “suspected hijacking” and alerted the Special Boat Service (SBS)

The SBS is an elite maritime counterterrorism unit, that traces its history back to World War II and has been involved in many of the conflicts of the past 70 years including Afghanistan and Iraq. The SBS’s U.S. equivalent is the Navy’s SEAL teams. SBS is considered a sister unit to the Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) in Britain’s Special Forces units.

The SBS is headquartered in Poole, on the southern coast of England not far from where the ship called for assistance.