Essex cargo ship: men appear in court

24 December 2018, 12:13 | Updated: 24 December 2018, 12:15

Grande Tema cargo ship

Four men arrested after military operatives swooped on a cargo ship in the Thames Estuary have appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

Samuel Jolumi, 26, Ishola Sunday, 27, Toheeb Popoola, 26, and Joberto McGee, 20, are accused of threatening crew on the Grande Tema ship 11 days after boarding in Nigeria.

The ship's operator said the men were detained after the Special Boat Service (SBS) were airlifted on to the vessel, which was carrying toxic chemicals.

The men appeared on Monday at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court charged with one count each of affray, by threatening violence.

The hearing was adjourned while prosecutors consider amending the charges to ones under maritime law.

The defendants spoke only to confirm their particulars, with McGee giving his nationality as Liberian and the others saying they are Nigerian.

The 71,000-tonne ship set off from Lagos, Nigeria, on December 10.

After becoming aware alleged intruders were roaming the ship, the crew holed themselves up in the bridge and kept control of the vessel.

Essex Police were called at about 9.15am on Friday over the safety of the crew.

It was not until 4.20am on Saturday that the vessel docked at the Port of Tilbury in Essex, according to

The ship's operator, Grimaldi Lines, said there were no reports of injuries.

Spokesman Paul Kyprianou told reporters that the SBS descended on to the ship by helicopter before the men were arrested.

The defendants, all of no fixed address, were remanded in custody, to appear at the same court on December 31.