The dramatic moment special forces abseiled onto a hijacked cargo shop and took down four armed migrants has been revealed by crew members.
Members of the Special Boat Service, sister regiment to the SAS, boarded the Grande Tema at around 11pm last night in an operation that was very fast and quick.
The armed migrants were demanding the 71,000 tonne container ship navigate closer to the coast so they could swim to shore.
Paul Kyprianou, a spokesman for the Grimaldi shipping company which owns the vessel, said the crew were asked to switch off the lights before the special forces stormed the ship.
The Special Boat Service, which is a unit of the British Navy, boarded the vessel with a helicopter, he said.
It was 12 men, they boarded and they neutralised the four stowaways.
After that another helicopter with six police men came and they kept them in a cabin waiting for the vessel to get in to Tilbury.
It was at about 11pm last night and it took about 20 minutes.
He said the crew members locked themselves away in the bridge of the vessel and that there had been no physical contact between the two groups.
Speaking to LBC, Mr Kyprianou said: We sometimes have stowaways but its extremely rare that they act in this way.
What they want to do is reach Europe so this is their aim, so I dont know if they knew they were in the UK, but they knew they were in Europe.
The four stowaways had been found by crew members four days ago after leaving Lagos, Nigeria and the crew gave them accommodation and food as required under international regulations.
The vessel was circling in the Thames Estuary for around 12 hours before police boarded.
Mr Kyprianou said: At the beginning they werent violent. We gave them accommodation and food.
They were calm but then when the vessel was closer to shore they changed their behaviour.
They were young and they were African. We dont know the nationality.
They probably managed to board the vessel in Lagos but we do not have information regarding the nationality.
Mr Kyprianou added: We had no clashes, no injuries, no nothing, everything went smoothly.
Last night, Essex police said: We have now secured a vessel in the Thames Estuary.
Four men have been detained under the Immigration Act.
The vessel was boarded and secured shortly after 11pm on Friday 21 December and will now be brought back safely into dock at the port of Tilbury.