Four iron bar-wielding immigrants have been charged with attempted hijacking.
The Nigerian stowaways smeared faeces on the windows of the bridge and threatened to kill the crew as they tried to take control of the 770-foot cargo ship, a court heard.
It’s said violence flared after the men burst out of a make-shift boat and wielded iron bars as the ship headed towards Tilbury.
After the men got free the terrified crew locked themselves in the bridge as the stowaways smashed windows and smeared faeces on the walls.
A note was even passed to the crew which said there would be “a big problem” if the ship wasn’t moved closer to shore so they could swim to England, the court was told.
After the alarm was raised the crack Special Boat Squadron raided the boat.
Previously the Nigerians had been charged with affray – but at Southend Magistrates’ Court they were told they will be prosecuted for attempted hijacking, threats to kill and illegally entering the UK.
Samuel Jolumi, 26, Ishola Sunday, 27, Toheeb Popoola, 26 and Joberto McGee, 20, looked up at the ceiling as prosecutor Lesley Chipps, addressed the court.
The men appeared in the dock two at a time with two guards and interpreters.
Recalling the dramatic raid Mrs Chipps said: “The defendants were stowaways on a vessel, it was a working vessel. The crew then became aware of them and they were then secured into a room and provided food etc. The allegation is then they then made good their escape from that room.
“The captain had to secure his crew into a secure room, so the crew were safe. They then approached the room with iron bars.
“The ship was off the port of Tilbury and forces had to board the ship to get them. At that point they were fully compliant when they were taken off the vessel.”
Due to the nature of the offences all four of the defendants will be sent to crown court and there was no bail application.
Chairman of the Bench Christopher Elliott told them: “You will be remanded into custody and we are not granting you bail as there are fears you would flee or commit further offences. We would like you in custody to secure your attendance.”