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Friday, January 1, 2021

Tanker vessel hijacked in UK waters near Southampton ??

The Andromeda Galaxy, is a barred spiral galaxy approximately 2.5 million light-years (770 kiloparsecs) from Earth and the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way.  The galaxy's name stems from the area of Earth's sky in which it appears, the constellation of Andromeda, which itself is named after the Ethiopian (or Phoenician) princess who was the wife of Perseus in Greek mythology.  The number of stars contained in the Andromeda Galaxy is estimated at one trillion (1×1012), or roughly twice the number estimated for the Milky Way.  The Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies are expected to collide in around 4.5 billion years,  merging to form a giant elliptical galaxy ! 

The first U.S. airplane hijacking occurred in 1961. The number of such incidents, also known as skyjackings or air piracies, grew during the 1960s, with 40 attempts made in 1969. Many of the early hijacking incidents involved persons seeking to divert airplanes to Cuba, where they could gain Asylum.  The seizure of a commercial vehicle—airplane, ship, or truck—by force or threat of force is known as hijacking.

Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable items or properties. Those who engage in acts of piracy are called pirates, while dedicated ships that are used by them are called pirate ships. The earliest documented instances of piracy were in the 14th century BC, when the Sea Peoples, a group of ocean raiders, attacked the ships of the Aegean and Mediterranean civilizations.  Hijacking is the modern term for "piracy."   The word gained popular currency during Prohibition (1920–33), when bootleggers commandeered truckloads of liquor from each other, and reappeared when political activists began to seize commercial airplanes in the 1960s. 

The Achille Lauro hijacking happened on October 7, 1985, when the Italian cruise ship was hijacked by four men representing the Palestine Liberation Front off the coast of Egypt, as she was sailing from Alexandria to Ashdod, Israel. A 69-year-old Jewish American man in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, was murdered by the hijackers and thrown overboard. The hijacking sparked the "Sigonella Crisis". Upon learning of the hijacking and that there were Americans on board, members of the Reagan administration in Washington, D.C., in a time zone seven hours behind Egypt's, moved to take decisive action.  The ship then headed back towards Port Said, and after two days of negotiations, the hijackers agreed to abandon the liner in exchange for safe conduct and were flown towards Tunisia aboard an Egyptian commercial airliner. This plane, however, was intercepted by US fighter aircraft and directed to land in Sicily, where the hijackers were to be tried for murder, but could not be extradited. The four terrorists were sentenced to prison terms by the Italian courts, while the operation's mastermind, who had not taken part in the actual hijacking, was given passage to Yugoslavia and escaped.

A major incident is today underway after a group of stowaways were discovered hidden aboard an oil tanker as it headed into Southampton, according to reports. Police are currently dealing with the 'security incident', which reportedly involves a group of 'at least' seven stowaways, on a Libyan-registered oil tanker near to the Isle of Wight. A mayday call was made at around 9am today. Crew members are reportedly sheltering in a safe room on the vessel, named the 'Nave Andromeda'. However lawyers representing the vessel's owners, which had come from Nigeria, today told the BBC the incident was '100 per cent not a hijacking'.

The crude oil tanker is currently to the south of Bembridge. Police have set up a five mile exclusion zone.  Home Secretary Priti Patel is being kept up-to-date on the incident, according to Sky News. Officers and coastguard crews were called after a group of stowaways were reportedly discovered on a Libyan-registered ship as it made its way to Southampton.     The Libyan-registered ship named ‘ Nave Andromeda’  is a crude oil tanker and was   seen taking a ziz-zag type path near to the Isle of Wight. The vessel was due to be heading to Southampton this morning.  According to reports, a UK coastguard helicopter could be  seen circling the tanker, as seen on Flight Tracker, while the 748-foot vessel has made a number of zig-zags in the area, according to Marine Traffic.

A restriction zone of five nautical miles is now in place around the vessel, while a coastguard helicopter is also circling the ship, according to Sky News. A spokeswoman for Associated British Ports (ABP), which runs Southampton port, said they had not had any contact with the vessel and they had no further comment. The Coastguard said: 'We are currently assisting Hampshire Constabulary with an incident on board a vessel situated off the Isle of Wight. 'The search and rescue helicopters from Lee on Solent and Lydd are in attendance.' The incident will likely lead to involvement from the Royal Navy and the Special Boat Service.  

The Nave Andromeda was built in 2011 and weighs 42,338 tonnes. It was last known to be docked in Lagos, Nigeria on October 6. It was scheduled to arrive at Southampton at 10.30am on 25.10.2020. Speaking about the incident to Sky News today, Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, Bob Seely, said marine counter-terrorism forces will likely be called in, while a COBR meeting is likely to be held, or has been already. He said: 'They will be looking at the ship's registration, who's on it, what it is carrying, how many stowaways there are, can they get in contact with the crew if they can't get in contact with the skipper.'  He said authorities are also likely to be planning how to get onto the ship.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
25.10.2020 @10.43 pm. 

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