THE captain of HMS York told of his pride after delivering tons of medical aid to Libya and evacuating 60 stranded people out of the country.
The Portsmouth warship arrived in the Libyan port of Benghazi yesterday after days of monitoring the skies and sea in the Mediterranean as the political crisis in the country worsened.
York, which has the motto Good Hope, arrived and dropped off medical stores she had picked up in Malta.
The foreign office had urged people wanting to leave the country to get to the port.
In the end, only 60 people stranded in the country, including 10 British citizens, came aboard the ship to be taken to safety in Malta.
The ship’s captain, Commander Simon Staley, who lives in Southsea, said: ‘The people we’ve evacuated are in various states of emotion. Some are really euphoric to be out of the country. They’ve witnessed some really quite horrible things going on which we’ve seen in the press. Other people have not been involved in any of the battles but they are glad to be out. They were concerned things were going from bad to worse in the country and did not want to be there any more.’
York was on her way to a five-month deployment in the Falklands when she got the call to go to Libya.
‘We’ve been operating off the Libyan coast for the last five or six days in a number of operations,’ said Cdr Staley. He said he could not go in to details of exactly what the Type 42 destroyer has been doing while frigate HMS Cumberland evacuated 400 people from Libya last week.
‘I’ve been able to contribute to the aerial and maritime picture in the Mediterranean,’ he said.
‘I’m exceptionally proud of both my ship and my people. The ship’s company have responded well and we are resilient. We’ve shown what the navy is all about and I’m exceptionally proud to be captain of a ship that has done it so well.’
There were more clashes in Libya yesterday. Rebels said they had defended the oil export terminal in the town of Brega after bombing raids by the Libyan air force. Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a no-fly zone.