The case of four alleged stowaways arrested after military operatives swooped on a cargo ship in the Thames Estuary has been adjourned for a second time.

Samuel Jolumi, 26, Ishola Sunday, 27, Toheeb Popoola, 26, and Joberto McGee, 20, are accused of threatening crew on the Grande Tema ship 11 days after boarding in Nigeria.

The men appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court charged with one count each of affray, by threatening violence, on Friday.

The defendants, all of no fixed address, spoke only to contact firm their particulars, with McGee giving his nationality as Liberian and the others saying they are Nigerian.

All four men were remanded in custody.

They will next appear at Southend Magistrates' Court on January 18.

The 71,000-tonne ship set off from Lagos, Nigeria, on December 10.

After becoming aware alleged intruders were roaming the ship, the crew holed themselves up in the bridge and kept control of the vessel.

Essex Police were called at about 9.15am on Friday December 21 over the safety of the crew.

It was not until 4.20am on Saturday that the vessel docked at the Port of Tilbury in Essex, according to

The ship's operator, Grimaldi Lines, said there were no reports of injuries.

Spokesman Paul Kyprianou told reporters that the SBS descended on to the ship by helicopter before the men were arrested.