Essex Cargo Ship - Men Charged With Affray

23 December 2018, 13:10 | Updated: 23 December 2018, 13:14

Grimaldi Ship - credit Krispen Atkinson

Four men have been charged with affray after reports migrant stowaways had threatened the crew of the cargo ship Grande Tema in the Thames.

It's reported members of the special forces abseiled onto the ship off the coast of Kent (near Margate coast) on Friday morning before taking back control.

The vessel is now berthed in Tilbury and the group are due before Chelmsford magistrates tomorrow (Dec 24).

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Essex Police said the vessel, in the Thames Estuary, was boarded at around 11pm on Friday and was taken to the Port of Tilbury.

It arrived at just after 4.20am on Saturday, according to MarineTraffic.com.

The ship's operator, Grimaldi Lines, said four stowaways had been found on board and were armed with iron tubes.

They were said to be calling on the crew to navigate closer to the coast.

The force was called at around 9.15am on Friday relating to the safety of the crew on board the Grande Tema, a 71,000-tonne ship which set off from Lagos, Nigeria, on December 10.

Paul Kyprianou, a spokesman for Grimaldi Lines said:

"We found four stowaways on the vessel.

The vessel was coming from Nigeria and was bound to Tilbury, and those four stowaways were in the cabin, and today they managed to escape from the cabin and they started threatening the crew, requesting the master of the vessel navigating very close to the coast.

That request was probably because they wanted to jump and reach the British coast.

The crew reacted and they locked themselves in the bridge of the vessel and so they are safe, we haven't had any injuries."

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

Library pic of the Grande Tema courtesy of Krispen Atkinson