Four men detained as police secure cargo ship after ‘stowaways threaten crew’

Police boarded the ship on Friday following reports of stowaways threatening crew members

Police boarded the ship on Friday following reports of stowaways threatening crew members. Credit Scott Huntley Scott Huntley

The force said the ship was secure and there were no reports of injuries.

The men are now set to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Monday.

"The problem is the four people free on the deck threatening members and requesting them to get closer".

Originating in Lagos, Nigeria, the "Grande Tema" also stopped in Benin, Ivory Coast (Cote d'Ivoire) and Morocco during its 11-day trip to the UK.

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The crew had locked themselves in the bridge throughout the ordeal and are not reported to be injured.

The Sun newspaper said the rescue was led by members of the navy's elite Special Boat Service. They threatened the crew with iron bars.

The Italian-flagged ship was carrying containers and machinery. The stowaways, who were uninjured, were held under immigration law.

Grimaldi Lines said the four men had demanded to be taken to the British coast.

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The Grande Tema was seen sailing in circles on Friday.

An Essex Police statement said: "We continue to deal with a complex incident on board a vessel that is in the Thames Estuary close to the Essex and Kent borders".

Paul Kyprianou, a spokesman for Grimaldi Lines, told Sky News on Friday morning: "We found four stowaways on the vessel". Friday's incident ended peacefully after authorities intervened.

'Then they stormed aboard and the stowaways were put in a cabin.

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'It was at about 11pm last night and it took about 20 minutes'. Everything went smoothly. They [the crew] are just glad they are safe.

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