The two Border Force vessels, HMC Protector and HMC Seeker, have returned to the UK after playing an important part in the search and rescue of migrants in the Mediterranean as part of Frontex’s Operation Triton between May and September this year. The length of the vessels’ deployment was agreed between Border Force, Frontex and the host member state, Italy. The Government is considering options for providing further support to Frontex operations in the Mediterranean over the winter months and stands ready to provide assistance if there is an operational requirement to do so. Any further deployments of vessels from Border Force or other UK organisations will be determined in conjunction with Frontex and European partners.
Meanwhile, the UK continues to play an important role in supporting search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean and in tackling the criminal gangs that are responsible for illegal attempts to move large numbers of migrants across the Mediterranean. The ongoing deployment of the Royal Navy vessels, HMS Enterprise and HMS Richmond, to the Mediterranean is integral to this work. Border Force also continues to supply Frontex with officers to assist with the debriefing and screening of migrants that arrive in the Mediterranean. Three officers are currently deployed to the Greek islands and three to Italy to undertake this work.