HMS Bulwark rescues more than 1,000 migrants from Mediterranean

Credit: PA Wire

The Royal Navy rescued more than 1,000 people off the coast of Libya today, making it HMS Bulwark's "largest operation to date".

Using both its water and air capability, the 19,000-tonne assault ship conducted five different rescue missions, with a further two ongoing.

Helicopters were deployed and successfully spotted a number of migrant vessels - often in poor visibility - allowing boats from HMS Bulwark to get to them.

ITV News political correspondent Carl Dinnen reports from HMS Bulwark

The latest callout saw the use of all eight of the warship's landing craft and among the migrants rescued were at least 10 pregnant women.

Nick Cooke-Priest, Captain of HMS Bulwark said: "Starting very early this morning, this has been an intense, complex day. My helicopters have done a brilliant job locating a number of migrant vessels and my landing craft have effected their rescues with typical professionalism and complete success."

Royal Marines help migrants before boarding HMS Bulwark Credit: PA Wire

HMS Bulwark and three Royal Navy Merlin Helicopters deployed to the Mediterranean on 5 May have played a leading role in the EU's mission to stem the flow of illegal migrants into the continent.

The latest rescue brings the total number of individuals saved by HMS Bulwark so far to more than 2,700, with it plucking 747 people from dangerously overcrowded boats in a similar operation last week.

The warship was sent by the Government on 4 May to help search and rescue efforts in the Mediterranean in a bid to tackle a dramatic increase in the number of people dying trying to cross the sea.

It is estimated that more than 1,600 people have drowned so far this year trying to make the crossing.

Many are fleeing war in Libya, where Islamic State fighters are terrorising the population, fuelling instability in the war-torn country.