Captain describes Royal Navy’s migrant rescue

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The captain of HMS Bulwark says hundreds of migrants rescued by his sailors earlier today were suffering injuries and dehydration.

The Royal Navy flagship was alerted to four 30ft inflatable boats which got into distress of the coast of Libya.

The rescued migrants arrive in the safety of HMS Bulwark's dock on a Landing Craft in the Mediterranean Pictures: PO(Phot) Carl Osmond

The rescued migrants arrive in the safety of HMS Bulwark's dock on a Landing Craft in the Mediterranean Pictures: PO(Phot) Carl Osmond

Each boat was carrying around 100 migrants including a number of pregnant women and children.

Captain Nick Cooke-Priest, the commanding officer of HMS Bulwark, said: ‘We’ve been monitoring the weather for several days and there were indications that the rough conditions we’ve seen in the Mediterranean over the past 48 hours were easing.

‘Calmer seas mean migrant movement is more likely, so positioned Bulwark in an area where we would be best placed to respond.’

He said the ship received indicators that there were migrant craft in the area at around 3am today.

The migrants were given medical assistance when they arrived on board

The migrants were given medical assistance when they arrived on board

‘By 5am we had deployed the boats into two groups, ready to conduct rescues at dawn,’ Capt Cooke-Priest said.

“The sea conditions were as we had predicted, very calm, and soon after sunrise we were transferring hundreds of migrants from four inflatable boats to our landing craft.

‘In navy parlance these precarious boats were “full to the Gunwales”, including many people with dehydration, those with injuries, very young children and several pregnant women.

‘The weather at the moment is extremely hot so my ship’s company and I are very pleased that we were able to bring them to safety.

‘It’s unclear what would have happened to them but the risk of further injury or worse is of course considerable. We reconfigured our boat crews to include medics so we were able to offer the right support in the right order.

‘We were calm and compassionate first, because many of the people rescued were understandably distressed, and then we moved quickly to offer practical essentials such as water and medical care.

‘The people rescued have now been transferred safely back to HMS Bulwark and we will take them to port in due course. I’m proud of the superb professionalism of my team and we will continue to operate as effectively as we can in support of our current task.’