HMS Enterprise has contributed to a major rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean, working under an Italian-led EU mission.
As the nearest ship to the scene the Royal Navy hydrographic ship identified four small vessels and safely brought aboard 453 people. They were later transferred to the German frigate Schleswig Holstein and taken to the southern Italian port of Taranto.
Several other European ships were involved in Saturday’s rescue off the coast of Libya, where more than 20 vessels had issued distress calls and around 4,400 people were saved. It was the largest operation of the mission so far to take place in a single day.
Minister for the Armed Forces 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.
HMS Enterprise, a Survey Vessel Hydrographic and Oceanographic (SVHO), began her current role on 3 July when she replaced HMS Bulwark. She is well suited to the current stage of the EU operation, aimed at better understanding and tackling the criminal gangs responsible for the people smuggling. The ship is contributing to the range of capabilities required by the Italian operational commander and is building a picture of how the operation will go on to seize and disrupt smugglers assets.
The Commanding Officer of HMS Enterprise, 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.