Bulwark held back from operation

Published: Monday 4th May 2015 by The News Editor

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The Royal Navy’s flagship has been temporarily held back from joining efforts to ease the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean amid “ongoing” discussions with EU partners.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had previously said the 19,000 tonne assault ship HMS Bulwark was due to set off on April 26. A MoD spokesman claimed the flagship was not delayed, saying “it is just that discussions are ongoing between us and EU partners”.

HMS Bulwark had been earmarked to lead Britain’s contribution to an operation European leaders hope will stem the loss of life of refugees fleeing the turmoil in Africa and the Middle East.

A spokesman said: “The Prime Minister was clear at European Council that Britain would be playing its role in tackling the current crisis in the Mediterranean but that our focus would be on saving lives, not offering people asylum in the UK.

“Discussions between EU partners remain ongoing to ensure close co-ordination and we are not going to speculate on any operational decisions at this stage.”

HMS Bulwark is to be supported by two UK Border Force cutters and three Royal Navy Merlin helicopters with sophisticated radar designed to spot small surface vessels over long distances.

It will also provide a floating refuelling platform for the Merlins – expected to be based in either Malta or Sicily – enabling them to extend the range of their patrols.

The ship is to work in tandem with the surveillance helicopters to provide day and night searches covering ranges of more than 100 miles.

Published: Monday 4th May 2015 by The News Editor

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