Mutiny off Margate: Migrant stowaways ‘threaten crew and take over’ container ship heading for Essex in ‘act of piracy’
- British police were contacted after an incident on board a ship in the Channel
- Stowaways were reportedly found on board and have ‘taken over’ part of vessel
- Police have said little other than confirming no one is injured or held hostage
British police are investigating claims stowaways have taken over part of an Italian-registered container ship off the coast of Margate.
Shipping experts, who monitor events in the English Channel, claimed crew on board a Grimaldi ship heading to Tilbury, Essex had been confronted and part of the vessel had been ‘taken over’.
Nigel Scutt, an experienced marine photographer who works out of Dover, said: ‘I had calls from two separate sources. One said it was stowaways on board.
‘But the other said that stowaways had come out and made their presence known and have taken over areas of the ship or the vessel itself and threatened the crew in the process.
‘If that is the case then that is piracy. You normally hear of this off the Horn of Africa – not the Thames Estuary.’
The Grande Tema, an Italian-registered container ship, is circling in the English Channel, amid reports ‘stowaways’ have taken over part of the vessel
Sources told Sky News that ‘a group of migrants’ had been found on board the huge ship this morning.
Police say the incident is not being treated as a ‘hostage, piracy or terror related incident’.
An Essex Police spokesman said only: ‘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. This follows a call relating to the safety of crew on board at around 9am today.
‘We have received no reports that anyone had been harmed and don’t believe they are at risk.
‘We are not currently treating this as either a hostage, piracy or terror related incident.
‘We are working working closely with our partners to resolve this incident as quickly as possible.
‘We are not in a position to provide any details about who is on board at this stage.’
Shipping monitoring show the position of the vessel just north of the Kent town of Margate
Essex Police say they are involved in the ‘incident’ but have given few details about what is happened on board the 770-foot ship, which is currently circling off the Kent coast.
The 71,543 tonne ship was built in 2014 and is based in Palermo, the Sicilian city where many migrants picked up in the Mediterranean are living.
Shipping firm Grimaldi, who own the vessel, have been contacted by MailOnline, but staff at their office in Naples have so far declined to comment.
Both the Home Office and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have declined to comment on the incident, saying Essex Police were in charge.
Close-ups of the ship’s movements (green) show it repeatedly turning around during the day