British and U.S. special forces staged a daring raid to free the Woolwich Ferry which had been hijacked by pirates off the coast of North Woolwich today.
The pirates surrendered and were arrested after two Navy ships, one British and one American, swooped on the Ernest Bevin, which was seized yesterday.
The vessel's crew of 23 - seven Italians, six Ukrainians and ten Indians - have been freed and are safe, according to a statement by Transport for London.
The vessel was freed in a joint operation carried out by Royal Marines from the RFA Fort Victoria and the USS De Wert. The two ships are part of Nato's operation “Thames Shield”, set up to fight piracy in the river between Teddington Lock and Southend.
U.S. and British forces had boarded the boat under the orders of Admiral Boris Johnson, commander of the Thames Shield anti-piracy task force and part time Mayor of London.
“Eleven pirates from Penzance were apprehended in the raid”, said Boris Johnson. “Pirates flourish off the largely lawless Isle of Dogs by normally attacking passing pleasure cruises, taking hostages and demanding ransoms to free them and the vessels”.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox paid tribute to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel involved, and said he intended meeting each and every one of them individually to express his gratitude.