As security deteriorates in Libya, a number of countries are considering plans to evacuate their citizens from within the country.
As a contingency measure, British warship HMS Cumberland is en route to the Libyan coast ahead of a possible evacuation of Britons trapped by the unrest.
The ship was on her way back to the UK to be decommissioned when she was ordered to stay in the eastern Mediterranean. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is strongly encouraging British nationals to leave the country by civil transportation immediately. A MOD spokesman said:
The situation in Libya continues to feature heavily in the media. Yesterday, the Foreign Secretary announced that a variety of options are being explored to help British nationals leave Libya.
As one of the options, HMS Cumberland has been redeployed from the eastern Mediterranean to international waters near Libya so that she is pre-positioned in case she is required to play a role in assisting British nationals.
The ship, a Type 22 frigate, has been based in the Gulf for the last four months where her duties have included helping to protect the Iraqi oil platforms that account for nearly 90 per cent of Iraq’s national income. HMS Cumberland has also supported counter-piracy operations on her way to and from the Gulf.