Authorities stormed a cargo ship last night after its crew were threatened by four stowaway migrants.
The stowaways, who were armed with iron bars, began to demand that the 71,000 tonne container ship navigate closer to the coast so they could swim to shore.
The crew locked themselves in a cabin when the vessel was around ten miles north of Margate, Kent.
Essex police said the vessel, in the Thames Estuary, was boarded at around 11pm on Friday and taken to the Port of Tilbury in Essex.
It arrived just after 4.20am this morning, according to MarineTraffic.com.
Four men were detained under the Immigration Act, and no-one on board had been injured.
There were reports that the Special Boat Service had been brought in to handle the operation.
The ship had set off from Lagos in Nigeria last Monday.
A spokesman for the shipping company Grimaldi Lines said staff on the Grand Tema had been threatened.
Paul Kyprianou, a spokesman for Grimaldi Lines, said: ‘We found four stowaways on the vessel.
‘The vessel was coming from Nigeria and was bound to Tilbury, and those four stowaways were in the cabin, and today they managed to escape from the cabin and they started threatening the crew, requesting the master of the vessel navigating very close to the coast.
‘That request was probably because they wanted to jump and reach the British coast.
‘The crew reacted and they locked themselves in the bridge of the vessel and so they are safe, we haven’t had any injuries.’
Essex Police said the ship is now secure.