| 14.9°C Belfast

Royal Navy to rescue Britons stranded by ash travel chaos

Close

The volcano in southern Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier sends ash into the air

The volcano in southern Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier sends ash into the air

Brynjar Gauti

HMS Ark Royal will be made available for the relief effort

HMS Ark Royal will be made available for the relief effort

HMS Ocean will be made available for the relief effort

HMS Ocean will be made available for the relief effort

The crater of the Iceland volcano, which erupted for the second time in a month. (AP)

The crater of the Iceland volcano, which erupted for the second time in a month. (AP)

Departures boards in Terminal 3 at Manchester Airport, where flights have been suspended due to ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland moving towards UK airspace. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 15, 2010. See PA story AIR Ash.

Departures boards in Terminal 3 at Manchester Airport, where flights have been suspended due to ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland moving towards UK airspace. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 15, 2010. See PA story AIR Ash.

Dave Thompson

People wait for information in the departure lounge at Gatwick airport

People wait for information in the departure lounge at Gatwick airport

Smoke billows from an erupting volcano by the Eyjafjallajokull glacier. Airspace from Ireland to Finland closed following eruption of the volcano

Smoke billows from an erupting volcano by the Eyjafjallajokull glacier. Airspace from Ireland to Finland closed following eruption of the volcano

Jon Gustafsson

Andy Bodenham, Met Office Forecaster looks at a enchanced colour satellite image highlighting a volcanic ash plume moving towards the United Kingdom

Andy Bodenham, Met Office Forecaster looks at a enchanced colour satellite image highlighting a volcanic ash plume moving towards the United Kingdom

Matt Cardy

The sun sets over the Houses of Parliament, London, as an ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano grounded all but emergency flights above the UK

The sun sets over the Houses of Parliament, London, as an ash cloud from an Icelandic volcano grounded all but emergency flights above the UK

Lewis Whyld

The sun sets over the Birmingham skyline

The sun sets over the Birmingham skyline

David Jones

The sun sets behind the control tower of Heathrow Airport

The sun sets behind the control tower of Heathrow Airport

Steve Parsons

Airports closed as volcanic ash drifts towards Britain

Airports closed as volcanic ash drifts towards Britain

James Kemp in Belfast is trying his best to get back to Leeds. All flights at Belfast International Airport have been cancelled due to the volcanic ash.

James Kemp in Belfast is trying his best to get back to Leeds. All flights at Belfast International Airport have been cancelled due to the volcanic ash.

Melting ice spewing from the crater of the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland

Melting ice spewing from the crater of the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland

This image made available by the Icelandic Coastguard, Wednesday April 14, 2010, shows the crater the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland,  which erupted for the second time in less than a month

This image made available by the Icelandic Coastguard, Wednesday April 14, 2010, shows the crater the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland, which erupted for the second time in less than a month

Melting ice spewing from the crater of the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland

Melting ice spewing from the crater of the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland

This false-color short-wavelength infrared image shows Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano (centre) from data obtained by NASA

This false-color short-wavelength infrared image shows Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano (centre) from data obtained by NASA

NASA/JPL/EO-1 Mission/GSFC/Ashle

Two Royal Navy ships have been deployed to help get stranded travellers, Gordon Brown said

Two Royal Navy ships have been deployed to help get stranded travellers, Gordon Brown said

The volcano in southern Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull glacier sends ash into the air

Two Royal Navy ships have been deployed to help get stranded travellers back to the UK, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said.

HMS Ark Royal and HMS Ocean will be made available for the relief effort, Mr Brown said, after a meeting of the emergency planning committee Cobra in Whitehall.

Mr Brown defended the continuing flight ban saying the safety of air passengers was "paramount" when dealing with crisis caused by the volcanic ash cloud.

Speaking in Number 10 Downing Street, Mr Brown said: "I think the first thing we have got to say is the safety of air passengers is of paramount importance.

"Today we are looking at the results of test flights that have been up in the air (on Sunday and Monday) and looking also at the manufacturers' recommendations, but that will be dealt with by the European Council meeting of Transport Ministers that will be held by video link later ... and further decisions about when flights can go and whether flights can not go will have to be made as a result of the conclusions of these meetings."

Mr Brown was flanked by Transport Secretary Lord Adonis and Foreign Secretary David Miliband as he spoke.

Mr Brown said: "We have large numbers of travellers who are trapped in Africa and Asia and the main route home at the moment is the airports that are open in Europe and that is in Spain.

"I talked to Prime Minister Zapatero and he has offered in principle use of Spanish airports as a hub to bring people back to Britain and we are now looking if we can make the arrangements necessary, the transport arrangements that we will support as a government, coach, ferry and train to get people either from Madrid or another Spanish airport back to Britain."

He did not elaborate on what role the Royal Navy ships would play but said further details would become available later today about the arrangements to bring people home.

For latest flight information check out airport websites: www.belfastcityairport.com www.belfastairport.com www.cityofderryairport.com

Have your travel plans been thrown into chaos? Email your story to Newseditor

PA