Royal Navy rescues 400 migrants in distress off Libya

Shell - James Martin with the piece of shell which hit HMS Baham during the first world war. In the background is a photograph of the ship

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Royal Navy sailors have rescued another 400 people in the largest operation since being deployed to the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

Flagship HMS Bulwark was alerted to four 30ft inflatable boats which got into distress off the coast of Libya today.

Landing craft from HMS Bulwark approach a vessel carrying more than 100 migrants off the coast of Libya to rescue those on board Picture: PO (Phot) Carl Osmond

Landing craft from HMS Bulwark approach a vessel carrying more than 100 migrants off the coast of Libya to rescue those on board Picture: PO (Phot) Carl Osmond

Each boat was reported to be in a perilous condition, carrying around 100 migrants including a number of pregnant women and children.

Pictures released by the navy show rescued migrants sitting wearing life jackets on one of Bulwark’s landing craft as they wait to be transported to safety.

Sailors on board also provided medical assistance to those who needed it.

Petty Officer Naval Nurse Emma Pain said: ‘I’m proud to be making a difference because I’m saving the lives of those less fortunate.

Royal Navy Medical Assistant Morwenna Nichols, caring for 4 year Milako Izic, who has just been rescued

Royal Navy Medical Assistant Morwenna Nichols, caring for 4 year Milako Izic, who has just been rescued

‘As a nurse, this is what I am trained to do.’

The rescue operation takes the number of people rescued by the navy since the mission began earlier this month to around 600.

Bulwark, a Plymouth-based ship with Portsmouth sailors on board, is leading Britain’s contribution to an operation European leaders hope will stem the loss of life of refugees fleeing the turmoil in Africa and the Middle East.

Those rescued by Bulwark are being taken to Italy.

One of HMS Bulwark's landing craft full of migrants rescue from the vessels in distress

One of HMS Bulwark's landing craft full of migrants rescue from the vessels in distress

Bulwark’s landing craft and embarked Merlin helicopters have been involved in the rescues.

Naval Airman Stephen Jennings said: ‘It’s a great feeling to know what I’m doing is worthwhile.

‘I can see the benefits that the helicopters bring to this operation and the success they are having in saving lives.’

Defence secretary Michael Fallon said the sailors were providing food and clean water to those rescued.

‘HMS Bulwark and her crew have already proved an invaluable asset in assisting with the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

‘The ship is providing medical assistance, food, water and dry clothes to those in need and will transfer them safely to land as soon as possible.’