The Royal Navy Albion-class assault ship, HMS Bulwark, rescued 110 migrants from a dinghy on Thursday which was slowly sinking off the coast of Libya. The rescue was the first by a British ship since the dramatic increase in the number of cases of people smuggling across the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe beginning in March. Once the migrants were taken onboard their dinghy was deliberately sunk so as to not pose a threat to shipping in the region.
The operation was carried out with the support of the Italian Coast Guard who have been at the forefront of rescue operations for the thousands of desperate people risking their lives and their family’s lives in their attempt to make the crossing often in virtually unseaworthy vessels. Due to the sheer number of people crammed aboard the dinghy and the urgency to get them off, Bulwark used her landing craft to remove the people en masse.
The migrants were transferred to the Italian coastguard vessel Fiorillo and were subsequently taken to the Italian mainland for medical assessment. In the past week alone Italian and French vessels have rescued nearly 6000 migrants from the Mediterranean while at least 10 bodies have been recovered.