Seven people have been detained after special forces stormed an oil tanker situated off the Isle of Wight.

The Nave Andromeda had been due to dock in Southampton earlier today, but a rescue call was put out by the captain after reports of a hijacking.

Armed forces gained access to the vessel just after 7pm tonight, the Ministry of Defence said.

A Special Boat Service team and six helicopters are believed to have been used in the rescue operation.

Initial reports confirm that the crew are safe, as seven stowaways were arrested and taken into custody.

Two coastguard helicopters could be seen circling the ship on Sunday afternoon.

A three-mile exclusion zone was set up in the area south of Sandown.

A Special Boat Service team and six helicopters are believed to have been used in the rescue operation

The Ministry of Defence confirmed: "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."

Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said the boarding of the tanker Nave Andromeda by British armed forces was a "good outcome".

"We have been watching this all day," he told BBC News.

"Seven stowaways on board taking over a ship or causing the ship not to be in full command would have triggered a multi-agency alarm and then well-rehearsed classified protocols were then put into action.

"Initially it didn’t look like this was terrorist-related nor involving WMD but the erratic behaviour was concerning.

"The safety of the crew was important as is indeed any unauthorised movement towards the coast.

"I am pleased to see that swift action has been taken. This is a good outcome."

Concerns over the crew's welfare were raised at 10:04 GMT when the vessel was six miles off Bembridge, police said.

A spokesman said "verbal threats" had been made towards the crew.

A Hampshire police spokesman previously said: "At 10.04am today (25 October) concerns were raised to police for the welfare of crew on board the Nave Andromeda – a vessel situated approximately six miles off the coast of Bembridge, Isle of Wight.

"The vessel had been travelling in the direction of Southampton.

"It was reported that a number of stowaways were on board, and they had made verbal threats towards the crew. No one has been reported injured.

"An exclusion zone, with a three-mile radius, is currently in place near the vessel.

"Police are currently working closely with our partners, including the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Border Force, to bring this incident to a safe conclusion."