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HMS Enterprise rescues hundreds of migrants off Libya

Published 25/08/2015

HMS Enterprise identified four small boats in trouble off the coast of Libya
HMS Enterprise identified four small boats in trouble off the coast of Libya

Hundreds of migrants have been rescued by British crews in one of the largest operations of the Mediterranean crisis so far.

A total of 453 people were brought aboard HMS Enterprise after the survey vessel identified four small boats in trouble off the coast of Libya.

Teams from several other European countries were involved in Saturday's rescue, which was launched when more than 20 vessels with migrants on board issued distress calls.

In all 4,400 people were saved in what the Ministry of Defence (MoD) described as the largest operation to take place in a single day of the mission.

Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt said: "Britain continues to play a vital role in the Mediterranean and I want to thank HMS Enterprise for this latest life-saving mission.

"We remain clear however that the best and only way to tackle the migrant crisis in Europe is to go after the source of the problem.

"The international community must do all it can to go after the criminal gangs and people smugglers who trade so carelessly with the lives of others.

"It is vital that HMS Enterprise continues with her picture building role so that we can better understand what is needed of this evolving mission."

The migrants taken on board the British ship were later transferred to the German frigate Schleswig Holstein and taken to the southern Italian port of Taranto.

HMS Enterprise began her role in the mission in July when she replaced the larger assault ship HMS Bulwark.

The MoD said Enterprise is "well suited" to the current stage of the operation, which is focused on tackling people smuggling gangs.

Her commanding officer Commander Mark Vartan said: "I am extremely proud of the professional manner in which my team responded to this rescue.

"HMS Enterprise together with the other European Union Naval Force partners are committed to addressing the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean including the provision of life saving capability when it is necessary."

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