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THE Captain of HMS Westminster said he is proud to be protecting Libyan civilians from attack.

Portsmouth-based Commander Tim Green told The News his ship’s company is ready for whatever Colonel Gaddafi’s forces throw at them – and he is sure their presence off the Libyan coast is having an effect.

ON PATROL Captain of HMS Westminster, Cdr Tim Green

ON PATROL Captain of HMS Westminster, Cdr Tim Green

The Type-23 frigate helped evacuate British nationals from the Middle Eastern country after its popular uprising turning into a civil war.

Now it is patrolling the Mediterranean – not far from the rebel-held city of Benghazi – to ensure the Libyan navy does not continue shelling built-up civilian areas.

Cdr Green said: ‘We are here to enforce the UN security council’s resolution, and help protect the civilian population of Libya.

‘The no-fly zone is not just affecting Gaddafi’s air capacity, it has also halted his naval operations.

‘Our presence has definitely been making a difference – before the resolution was passed we could see Libyan naval vessels firing into built-up areas.

‘Now that has stopped completely, but we are keeping a close eye on their fleet to make sure attacks on civilians do not resume.’

The warship has been on patrol for several weeks after sailing from London at short notice.

It joined HMS Cumberland and HMS Triumph in deterring Libyan gunboats from shelling coastal towns.

Cdr Green added that following maintenance in the UK last year, HMS Westminster is more than ready to take on any threats.

He said: ‘Our equipment and personnel are fully prepared for this mission.

‘We definitely have the measures to deal with anything they could throw at us, and I am confident our mission will succeed.

‘It is always very exciting and a privilege to be involved in crucial operations like this.

‘Here we can really see the impact we are having on the lives of the Libyan people.

‘It has sent a very clear message to Gaddafi that he cannot continue attacking the civilian population.’

Tens of thousands of refugees have fled the fighting between pro and anti-government forces, and Cdr Green said he expects HMS Westminster to remain in the area for the foreseeable future.