Falklands veteran tells of rescue from trouble-torn Libya

A Merlin helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose has been training with HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth Naval Base as part of her Rotary Wing Trials

Helicopter puts flight deck crew through its paces

Have your say

AN EVACUEE who was rescued by HMS Cumberland has told of Libya’s descent into violence.

Former sailor Mike Wilson, of Winstanley Road, Stamshaw, was among the 207 exhausted civilians plucked from the crisis-hit country on Friday.

Mr Wilson, a 61-year-old Falklands veteran, had been working on a clean water project in the desert of Brega, more than 100 miles away from the capital Tripoli.

He said: ‘We were in a compound of buildings and we had looters trying to get in, armed with knives.

‘It was a potentially terrifying situation and it’s sad for Libya, where I’ve been for three years.

‘It was a very dangerous situation which was escalating and all of us on board were glad to be rescued.

‘We were getting reports about looting and militias and it was best to get out of there.’

Mr Wilson drove to Benghazi before spending more than 30 hours on board HMS Cumberland as she travelled to Malta through gale force winds.

He added: ‘We were in a junior rates’ mess room and there were several people who were ill.

‘But it was fine given the situation we were leaving and we’re very happy to be safe.’

HMS Cumberland’s Captain Steve Dainton, who lives in Waterlooville with his wife Caroline and two sons, said the conditions were at ‘sea state six’.

That means waves of up to six metres in height.

He said: ‘It was a successful operation. After we sailed from Benghazi it quickly became evident we were hitting some pretty bad weather.

‘We made the decision to slow down to try and make it as comfortable as possible for the 207 people on board.

‘It took a little bit longer, but the important thing was to get those personnel to Malta safely.’

HMS Cumberland made a second emergency mission to rescue Britons yesterday.

The frigate docked in Benghazi at around midday.

She was expected to arrive back in Malta in the early hours today.

Portsmouth-based HMS York is on standby in the region after docking in Malta to take on board supplies.

At least 2,000 people have been killed in Libya since anti-government protesters took to the streets.