The U.K police are dealing with an “ongoing incident” on board an oil tanker, south of the Isle of Wight.
The Liberian-registered Nave Andromeda that was due to dock in Southampton on Sunday morning is believed to have stowaways on board.
Lawyers representing the vessel’s owners said they knew of the stowaways but that the incident was “100% not a hijacking”, despite reports, adding that it had been known for a while there were stowaways were on board.
Conservative MP for Isle of Wight Bob Seely said there was “concern” the “captain may not be in full control” due to the stowaways on the 240ft-long (73m) vessel, and “to what extent they present a threat to the ship or the crew on the ship”.
A U.K Chamber of Shipping spokesperson said, “We are aware of an incident on board the Nave Andromeda off the Isle of Wight and are in contact with the relevant authorities. We believe it is likely to be related to stowaways on board but are awaiting more information.”
The Maritime Coastguard Agency said it was assisting police and search and rescue helicopters were at the scene.
The Ministry of Defence has told the BBC that there is no military involvement in the operation.
According to maritime tracking websites, the crude oil tanker had sailed from Lagos, Nigeria on October 5.