Royal Navy criticised for using vessels ‘too big’ for job of rescuing Channel migrants

Migrant Channel crossing incidents Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Royal Navy has been criticised for being a “waste of time and resources” by using boats too big for the job of rescuing migrants crossing the English Channel.

Women, children and single men are among hundreds of people brought ashore on Good Friday as the Ministry of Defence takes over responsibility for handling migrants crossing the English Channel.

Royal Navy patrol vessels have been posted in the Channel to oversee operations after being put in charge by Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Thursday.

The naval ships have been spotted towing empty dinghies used by the people smugglers back to the UK after those onboard were offloaded on to boats operated by Border Force, which is part of the Home Office.

Portsmouth-based patrol vessel HMS Blazer, which is 21m long and 6m wide, was pictured towing two small boats into Dover on Thursday.

Military personnel waiting at the dockside in Dover have then been meeting the arrivals and placing them on to buses to be taken to processing centres.

Political commentator Nigel Farage has criticised the navy’s response as a “waste of time and resources” by using vessels which are “too high to pick up migrants”, meaning the RNLI and Border Force were still required to carry out the task.

He posted on Twitter: “The new Royal Navy presence in the Channel off to a terrible start…

“The gunwhales on the vessels are too high to pick up migrants, so the RNLI & Border Force are doing the job instead!

“The Navy are then going around picking up the empty dinghies. Waste of time and resources!”

The MoD, Home Office and RNLI have been approached for comment.

Mr Johnson put the Royal Navy in “operational command” of handling boats crossing the Channel while, under newly-revealed plans, those detained could be flown to Rwanda within weeks.

The MoD has confirmed that 562 people were brought ashore from 14 boats on Thursday.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover following a small boat incident in the Channel Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA

These figures do not include any being intercepted by the French authorities.

A further 600 are understood to have been brought to the UK on Wednesday, but the Home Office has not provided figures for what was its final day of responsibility for handling Channel crossings.

This means the total of migrants to have arrived in the UK so far this year including Good Friday will be about 6,000, according to figures compiled by the PA News agency.