Navy sinks migrant aid as boats are too costly
PLANS to seek help from the Royal Navy to tackle desperate migrants illegally crossing the Channel have been abandoned because the boats are too expensive, it is claimed
More than 100 migrants, including babies, have tried to reach Britain by sea in the past three months. Many are set adrift in inflatable dinghies by traffickers.
Last week 24 Iranian nationals, were rescued, four in an inflatable and 17 in stolen fishing boats.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid wanted Navy boats to be used for patrols as weather worsened in the Channel and concerns for the safety of migrants grew.
Traffickers are thought to be increasing activity before Brexit.
But of five small cutters operated by Border Force – responsible for patrolling Britain’s borders – just two are deployed in British waters. Two are on humanitarian missions in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. The fifth is being repaired.
The Home Office, sources say, was already considering using Royal Navy boats when Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced the MoD would be keeping three big offshore patrol vessels [OPV], once earmarked for sale.
Senior civil servants decided the 25-crew vessels would be an ideal way of bridging the gap while allowing Britain to continue to honour its Mediterranean mission.
But the plans fell apart when civil servants learned the daily cost of “renting” an OPV with crew.
The cost of a 16,000-tonne OPV, with a range of 5,500 nautical miles (6,337 miles), starts at £20,000 a day. Add fuel and other factors and it
can increase to as much as £50,000. According to Home Office sources, the cost could simply not be sanctioned so it was decided to pull back one of the Border Force humanitarian cutters instead.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson last week announced that the three Royal Navy River-class vessels, HMS Tyne, HMS Mersey and HMS Severn, had been saved to work in UK waters. A Home Office source said: “It seemed logical
JOURNEY’S END: Migrants escorted from a beach near Folkestone last month