PORTSMOUTH sailors are in the thick of the fighting in Libya, disabling sea mines in range of deadly attacks from artillery and missiles.
The minehunter HMS Brocklesby was called in to action in the harbour of the war-torn city of Misrata to destroy sea mines planted by Gaddafi forces last weekend.
She has spent six days operating her anti-mine robot in the harbour to make it safe for vital aid ships carrying medical supplies to get through to citizens.
Speaking yesterday, Brocklesby’s captain, Lieutenant Commander James Byron, said: ‘At 7am this morning we were 250 yards outside the harbour entrance to do the final clearance operation.
‘For the last six days my crew and I have been in short range of artillery and missiles but my crew has responded really well to the threats posed to us and done a good job. I couldn’t be more proud of them.’
The Portsmouth-based warship, which has a crew of 47, was called into action after Gaddafi forces attempted to mine the port.
Lt Cdr Byron said: ‘They drove the mines up the coast in inflatable boats and rather than laying the mines, they just deflated the boats. It was a strange way to lay mines but they could have closed the whole port easily. But now it’s all open and aid ships can get through.’
The first aid ship to come into Misrata yesterday was shelled but unharmed.
Lt Cdr Byron said despite the conditions, he wished to stress to families back home that his sailors are safe.
He said: ‘We are at threat but the boys are all professionals. They are fine. We’re staying as safe as we can.’
The ship is part of the 20-ship Nato blockade in Libya.