The Royal Navy continues to demonstrate its invaluable work in the Mediterranean, saving 541 vulnerable lives.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “The Royal Navy continues to demonstrate its invaluable work in the Mediterranean, saving 541 vulnerable lives.

“Our focus remains on hitting the criminal gangs responsible for endangering the lives of innocent people. We are determined to tackle this at source. 

"The new powers we have to board boats and detain the smugglers will help us put an end to this trade in human misery.”

The migrants are being cared for by the military personnel on board the ships and will be transferred to the Norwegian support ship Siem Pilote soon as possible to take them ashore and enable both HMS Enterprise and HMS Richmond to return to their original tasking.

WO1 Mark Gandy, HMS Richmond’s Executive Warrant Officer, was in charge of embarking the migrants. He said: “After 24 years in the submarine service, this is the first time I have seen something like this. 

"Just seeing how people will risk their lives by heading out to sea in vessels such as these reminds us of how lucky we are and why we do what we do.”

HMS Richmond’s Commanding Officer, Commander Mark Anderson added: "HMS Richmond, and the Royal Navy, are proud to work alongside our European allies in addressing the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean by striking at the source of the issue as well as taking on a humanitarian role, when necessary to save lives.”

Including this latest rescue mission the Royal Navy ships involved in the Mediterranean have rescued almost 7,000 migrants since May.