THE Royal Navy warship HMS Liverpool has fired her main gun to stop pro-Gaddafi forces moving along the Libyan coast.
THE Portsmouth-based Type 42 destroyer intercepted four small boats and fired several shells to force them back into harbour.
The warship was patrolling the coast between Al Khums and Zlitan on Libya’s Mediterranean coast when she received reports that small craft had been seen leaving Zlitan harbour – the same area where Liverpool won a gun battle with pro-Gaddafi troops last month.
If left unchecked, the vessels could have posed a threat to the civilian population, the Ministry of Defence said.
The warship began by transmitting warnings to the boats but they were ignored. This prompted Liverpool to fire a warning ‘shot across the bows’ with her 4.5-inch gun.
A high explosive shell roared from the ship and was seen to land to the east of the contacts.
One rib made a quick retreat to the harbour, but the three others stayed off the coast.
To force them to move, Liverpool fired down a salvo of three more warning shots which proved enough to drive the remaining vessels back to the harbour.
Liverpool’s captain, Commander Colin Williams, said: ‘Through the reading of warnings, we were able to give pro-Gaddafi forces the opportunity to return to their base port.
‘It shows that they can be kept at bay by a responsible show of force, without unnecessary violence.
‘My ship’s company once again showed their professional attitude, responding admirably to another challenge laid before them.’