MEMBERS of the Special Boat Service based in Poole have been heralded for the role they played in responding to an alleged oil tanker hijacking off the Isle of Wight.

The raid to regain control of the Nave Andromeda vessel late on Sunday was carried out by around 16 members of the Special Boat Service (SBS), backed by airborne snipers, who secured the vessel in around nine minutes.

The operation was authorised by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel after a tense 10-hour stand-off.

The Royal Marines naval base in Hamworthy, Poole, is the centre for SBS activities.

Sir Robert Syms MP, whose Poole constituency includes the base, told the Daily Echo: “This is all very much part of their training. They are very professional and very good at what they go – they are world class.

“I think we are lucky that they are based in Poole and I am immensely proud, I think most people are immensely proud, of both the Royal Marine presence and indeed the Special Boat Squadron.

“It will be Remembrance Day very soon and it is always one of those moments where we have to think about the bravery of the people in our Armed Forces.”

Hampshire Constabulary said the force was alerted to concerns over the welfare of the crew of the 748ft Nave Andromeda soon after 10am on Sunday as the ship headed towards Southampton, having set sail from Lagos in Nigeria.

A force spokesman said: “The seven men have been arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force under Sections 9(1) and (3) of the Aviation and Maritime and Security Act 1990.

“They all remain in custody at police stations across Hampshire.

“All 22 crew members are safe and well and the vessel is now alongside in the port of Southampton. Investigators are speaking to the crew members to establish the exact circumstances of what happened.”

Sir Robert added: “In recent years one of the concerns has been what would happen if a ship were taken hostage, a channel ferry or another vessel.

“The only unit that could deal with that, either in small boats or in helicopters, is actually the SBS.”

Commons defence select committee chair and Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said the boarding of the tanker was a “good outcome”.