Tradewinds reports Seven stowaways are believed to have attempted to take control of a bulker anchored off the English south coast after French ports refused to let them disembark. The 33,400-dwt handysize Chise Bulker (built 2014) arrived off Portland on Tuesday after loading at the port of Rouen in northern France.
The stowaways were discovered onboard the vessel that day and later the vessel was overheard stating on VHF radio channel 16 that it was heading to Le Havre in France to take them back, a source who overheard the exchanges told TradeWinds.
Soon after that, the captain was heard on the radio “crying” and audibly distressed, calling for immediate assistance because the stowaways were trying to force themselves on to the bridge as the vessel set off for France, the source said.
The captain said his crew was being harmed and that the situation was not under control, the person added. The vessel then turned back to Portland, where it remains at anchor in Weymouth Bay, according to the latest AIS data. TradeWinds understands the situation onboard eased when the vessel turned back towards the UK from France.
The local UK coastguard has been taking regular radio updates from the vessel and an action plan is understood to have been made. The vessel is owned by Orix Corp of Japan. TradeWinds is awaiting comment from Dorset Police, who are understood to be handling the situation.
The UK Marine & Coastguard Agency declined to comment as it has handed on responsibility for the incident to the police.
A similar situation occurred in October last year when seven stowaways were discovered on the Navios Maritime Acquisition-owned 75,000-dwt Nave Andromeda (built 2011), prompting an armed response when they attempted to “hijack” the tanker.
However, the UK Crown Prosecution Service found no evidence of any threats, intimidation or violence towards the crew, raising questions as to why special forces were called in to storm the vessel.