A PORTSMOUTH-BASED Border Force ship helped to save more than 100 migrants in the Mediterranean, including three children and three heavily pregnant women.
HMC Protector, one of Border Force’s cutters, was on patrol for Operation Triton south of Sicily on Saturday afternoon when she was alerted by the Italian Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Rome to a migrant boat in distress 60 miles from the coast of Libya.
A total of 104 migrants have now been taken to Lampedusa, and among them were 51 men, 50 women and three small children.
HMC Protector and HMC Seeker, two of the Border Force cutter fleet, were deployed to Frontex’s Operation Triton to support search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
Immigration Minister James Brokenshire said: ‘There have been some distressing scenes in the Mediterranean and that is why we agreed to enhance the existing Frontex operation, which Britain already supports, by providing two Border Force cutters.
‘However support for Frontex can only be part of a wider approach to tackling illegal migration. Our focus must also be on targeting and stopping the callous criminals who lie behind this vile trade in human beings as well as stabilising the countries from which the migrants are coming.
‘The UK is playing a leading role in pushing for action through the EU and the UN to target the organised trafficking gangs behind it.’
As well as Portsmouth’s HMC Protector, the navy’s HMS Bulwark, which has many sailors on board from the city, has been deployed to the Mediterranean as part of rescue missions.