Stowaways who turned violent onboard a bulker off the south coast of England on Tuesday have been arrested by police.
The seven stowaways are believed to have attempted to take control of the bulker after French ports refused to let the vessel return to disembark the individuals.
The 33,400-dwt handysize Chise Bulker (built 2014) arrived off Portland on Tuesday after loading at the port of Rouen in northern France, where the stowaways are presumed to have boarded.
Dorset Police told TradeWinds on Wednesday that the stowaways are believed to be Albanian nationals.
All seven were arrested by police and escorted from the ship, a spokesperson for the force said.
"They will be considered by the Border Force and UK Visas and Immigration for potential offences," Dorset Police added.
"The ship’s crew are being spoken to by officers and enquiries are ongoing to establish whether there are any reports of criminal offences. There were no reports of any injuries to the crew or the detainees involved in this incident."
The vessel berthed safely at the port of Portland, near Weymouth, on Wednesday.
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 were 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 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.
A spokesperson for Dorset Police told Tradewinds: "We received a call at around 5:40 am on Tuesday 9 February 2021 from the ambulance service in relation to a person reportedly in need of medical attention on board a commercial vessel off the coast of Portland.
"Following enquiries, it was established there were reportedly a small number unidentified individuals that had been located on board the vessel and none of them required any medical assistance."
Police are carrying out enquiries to determine whether an offence has been committed in the incident.
"Dorset Police is continuing to liaise with the Border Force, vessel and other partner agencies and arrangements are being made for the vessel to dock at a safe port," the spokesperson said.
Equasis lists the vessel's registered owner as Primwell Co and its manager as Orix Maritime of Japan, but Orix told TradeWinds it sold the vessel in 2014 and no longer has any relationship with it.
The UK Maritime & 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.
This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the Chise Bulker is no longer operated by Lauritzen Bulkers of Denmark and is owned by Primwell, not Orix.