British Royal Navy ship to combat human smugglers

EU may use HMS Richmond to target human traffickers operating across Mediterranean Sea

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Royal Navy, type 23 frigate, HMS Richmond is currently on operations east of the Suez Canal but could join an EU mission for about two months

Updated Sep 17, 2015

HMS Richmond, a Royal Navy warship is planned to operate in the Mediterranean Sea to seize vessels off the Libyan coast used by human traffickers, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence has announced.

UK's contribution will be part of the European Union Naval Force - Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED) mission.

The operation’s aim is to seize and destroy boats used by human traffickers in the Mediterranean to stop the influx of refugees making the dangerous journey from North Africa to southern Europe.

On Monday, EU nations approved plans to search and capture suspicious vessels in international waters - also referred to as phase II - which will be launched after a force generation conference and approval of rules of engagement.

The mission consists of three stages. The first phase was about gathering intelligence and the third stage involves military action against people smugglers inside Libyan territorial waters.

According to the BBC the offer to use the type 23 frigate in the operation will be made at the EU force conference on Wednesday.

Royal Navy ships have rescued thousands of refugees trying to get to Europe.

The Royal Navy is UK’s principal naval warfare force, which used to be considered the most powerful navy in the world. As a result of its historical prominence, it is called "The Royal Navy" without qualification, even among non-Britons.

HMS Bulwark was deployed in May to save refugee lives, while HMS Enterprise carried out surveillance as part of phase I.

More than 350,000 refugees have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, much higher than last year's number, which was 219,000 for the entire year of 2014, according to the International Organization for Migration.

A boat carrying refugees in the Mediterranean, February 12, 2015.

The organisation also reported that almost 3,000 people have died while making the journey across the Mediterranean Sea so far this year, including more than 700 people who drowned in one tragedy in April.

Europe has been dealing with a huge influx of refugees fleeing war, conflict and poverty in the Middle East and Africa.

On Tuesday, Hungary closed its border with Serbia to prevent refugees entering its territory as building of a new razor-wire fence is underway.

Germany, Austria and the Netherlands have also tightened their border controls.

Turkey has taken in the most refugees out of any country, housing 1.8 million Syrians.

TRTWorld and agencies