Two Nigerian men, 25 and 22, appear in court charged over hijacking of oil tanker in English Channel

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Two Nigerian men, 25 and 22, appear in court charged over the hijacking of an oil tanker in the English Channel

Matthew John Okorie, 25, and Sunday Sylvester, 22, appeared in court today  Appeared at Southampton Magistrates' Court charged with endangering shipsThey were part of a group of seven men and the other five remain on police bail  

By Nicole Conner For Mailonline

Published: 22:36 GMT, 26 December 2020 | Updated: 22:36 GMT, 26 December 2020

Two Nigerians appeared in court today charged over the hijacking of an oil tanker in the English Channel. 

Matthew John Okorie, 25, and Sunday Sylvester, 22, were charged with endangering the Nave Andromeda and appeared at Southampton Magistrates' Court. 

They were part of a group of seven Nigerian men who were arrested after being discovered on board the huge oil tanker on October 25.

Matthew John Okorie, 25, and Sunday Sylvester, 22, were charged with endangering the Nave Andromeda (pictured) 

The ship had been travelling from Lagos, Nigeria, and was close to reaching its destination of Southampton, Hampshire.

The boat's captain then put out a mayday call following the discovery of the stowaways. 

Both men have been charged with an offence relating to conduct endangering ships under section 58 Merchant Shipping Act 1995, and will appear at a crown court next month. 

The five other men - who were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force - remain on police bail.

The men were part of a group of seven Nigerian men who were arrested after being discovered on board the huge oil tanker (pictured) on October 25

Following a tense 10-hour stand-off, commandos from the Special Boat Service (SBS) dramatically stormed the 42,000 tonne ship and re-claimed it in just seven minutes. 

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson said: 'Two men have been charged and appeared in court today (December 26) as part of the ongoing Hampshire Constabulary led investigation into the maritime security incident that took place on board the Nave Andromeda.

'The two men, Matthew John Okorie, 25 and Sunday Sylvester, 22, have been charged with an offence relating to conduct endangering ships under section 58 Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

'They appeared before Southampton Magistrates' Court this morning and have been remanded in custody. They will next appear at Southampton Crown Court on January 29, 2021.

'Five other men, who were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force, remain on police bail until January 25, 2021 whilst Hampshire Constabulary's investigation continues.

'They are currently detained under Border Force powers.' 

Following a tense 10-hour stand-off, commandos from the Special Boat Service (pictured) dramatically stormed the 42,000 tonne ship and re-claimed it in just seven minutes

Crew members reportedly sought shelter in a safe room on the Liberian-registered oil tanker, named the Nave Andromeda, which was due to arrive at Southampton at 10.30am

It was originally suggested that the tanker had been hijacked, but lawyers representing the owners of the vesselsaid the incident was '100 per cent not a hijacking'.

Crew members sought shelter in a safe room on the Liberian-registered oil tanker before the Special Boat Service landed 16 personnel aboard the vessel via air and sea following a ten-hour standoff.  

Hampshire police later said all 22 crew members of the tanker were safe. 

Violence started when crew members found the stowaways and tried to lock them in a cabin prior to handing them to Border Force at Southampton.

A source on the Isle of Wight claimed during a mayday call this morning the captain told an operator 'I'm trying to keep them calm but please send help.'

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