Seven people have been detained after armed forces personnel boarded an oil tanker off the Isle of Wight, following reports its crew had been threatened by stowaways.

Hampshire police had requested military assistance in dealing with the situation on board the 228-metre Nave Andromeda.

The Ministry of Defence announced on Twitter: "In response to a police request, the Defence Secretary and Home Secretary authorised Armed Forces personnel to board a ship in the English Channel to safeguard life and secure a ship that was subject to suspected hijacking.

"Armed forces have gained control of the ship and seven individuals have been detained.

"Police investigations will now continue. Initial reports confirm the crew are safe and well."

The incident involved the Liberian-registered Nave Andromeda crude oil tanker south of Sandown. The 228-metre tanker had been expected to dock in Southampton at 10.30am having sailed from Lagos, Nigeria, on October 5.

It is understood the port received contact from the ship but it had not been refused entry to the harbour.

According to BBC sources close to the shipping company, the crew were aware of stowaways on board. They then made verbal threats towards the crew while the vessel was off the Isle of Wight.

Local MP Bob Seely had expressed fears that the ship's captain "may not be in full control", though lawyers representing the vessel's owners denied that the incident was a hijacking.

The crew are said to have retreated to the ship's citadel, a secure area where they can lock out potential attackers. They contacted contacted the coastguard, who alerted police.

An exclusion zone was set up around the ship before it was boarded by security personnel and "made safe".

Bob Sanguinetti, chief executive of the UK Chamber of Shipping, said on Sunday evening: "We understand the vessel has been boarded by security forces and made safe.

"We commend the swift action taken by UK personnel to secure the vessel and most importantly the safety crew."

Two coastguard helicopters had been scrambled to the scene and were spotted circling the ship on Sunday afternoon.