Armed police played out the dramatic seizure of a hijacked pleasure boat on the Thames in east London on Sunday, testing out their response to a Paris-style terrorist attack. The first marine-based exercise of its kind appeared like a scene from a Bond movie as high-speed craft rescued passengers on a stricken craft against a backdrop of The O2 and the Isle of Dogs and to the sound of gunfire.
“The scenario involved a group of terrorists hijacking a passenger pleasure boat on the Thames and taking a number of hostages, to travel up the Thames to central London to carry out a terrorist attack,” the Met Police said in a statement.
“It was designed to test the response and command and control protocols of emergency services, working with maritime partners, in dealing with this kind of situation in a marine environment.”
Police officers boarded the boat in a hail of mock gunfire two hours after a hijacking in which a group of five terrorists assumed command. One “body” was thrown overboard and officers were deployed to assess the effectiveness of the operation. The Port of London Authority, London Coastguard, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade also took part.
Police Commander B.J. Harrington said the exercise Sunday was not held in response to a specific threat. But he noted that deadly truck attacks last year in Nice and Berlin showed that methods of extremist attacks were evolving.