SAILORS from the Royal Navy have rescued 7,500 refugees from the Mediterranean in seven months.
Since May, the navy has saved the migrants, fleeing from war-torn Syria, from drowning.
Ships and sailors in Portsmouth have been responsible for a vast number of these rescues which has delighted civic leaders.
Councillor Donna Jones, Portsmouth City Council’s leader, told of her pride at the news.
Paying tribute to the navy’s efforts, she said: ‘The part Britain plays around the world, particularly through the support given by the Royal Navy, is just phenomenal.
‘I’m incredibly proud of all the servicemen and women for all they do.’
She added the role the navy played in humanitarian disasters was pivotal in the survival of victims.
‘The tragedies that are taking place across Europe at the moment, with people fleeing persecution in their home lands, is devastating,’ Cllr Jones said.
‘It’s absolutely tragic when you see the number of people that have ended up drowning simply trying to find a new life in a safer place.
‘That’s why the part that Britain is playing in the world is so important.’
The figures were revealed by Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt.
Ms Mordaunt explained that navy medics, sailors and a Royal Marines force protection team are currently deployed on a Border Force-charted ship MV Vos Grace, in the Aegean Sea.
She said HMS Enterprise was deployed as part of the EU force operating in the Mediterranean tackling the migrant smugglers profiting from the dangerous journeys made by refugees across the sea.
‘Royal Navy assets operating in this operation and the earlier search and rescue operation in the summer, have rescued over 7,500 persons in the Mediterranean since May,’ Ms Mordaunt added.
Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond said she was ‘delighted’ the navy had saved so many families, but added she remained ‘concerned’ refugees were making the crossing in the first place.
‘That is why I support the government’s policy of taking refugees directly from the camps in order to stop them taking this perilous journey,’ she added.