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Faced with the tragedy in the Mediterranean, the United Kingdom responds “present”.

HmsBulwarkLibertyLass@Uk120731
HMS Bulwark, flagship of the British fleet, with its helicopter deck and “liberty” boats (credit: UK Royal Navy)

(BRUSSELS2, at the European Council) When he arrived at the European Summit a few minutes ago, the British Prime Minister was very short but determined. We sense a man in the middle of an electoral campaign, determined to establish himself as a true leader. “ What is happening in the Mediterranean is a real tragedy " he said. This meeting aims to to save lives. Saving lives means helping people, fighting gangs and stabilizing the region. Great Britain has what it takes to help (…) We are the biggest defense budget ". David Cameron does not stop at generalities… He proposes.

UK responds

Specifically, the Prime Minister has offered to make available in the Mediterranean for rescue and control missions, the flagship of the British fleet, the amphibious ship, HMS Bulwart, 3 helicopters and 2 other border patrol boats. " Every time there has been a tragedy, the UK has always been there. And this time there will be no exception. " The tone is set ! David Cameron, however, put a condition on the rescue of the castaways: those rescued must be sheltered in a country, in Italy, but will not be repatriated to the United Kingdom.

The flagship of the British fleet in the Mediterranean

HMS Bulwart (L-15) is particularly suited to this type of operation. It has, in fact, a vast capacity in its lower decks to accommodate several hundred people. Commanded by the Captain Nick Cooke Priest, it can thus accommodate marine troops and their vehicles, in the event of a landing: between 200 (long duration) and 500 soldiers (short duration). A capacity which can be used to accommodate people rescued at sea. It has a flight deck for several Lynx type helicopters, which can be used for reconnaissance or first aid - as well as a raft that can accommodate 4 barges landing stage — a very convenient way to go to boats in distress. Served by a crew of around 300 people, equipped with modern means of communication, it can also serve as a floating headquarters.

Comment: as we said in our article published in our Club/Pro edition this morning (read: A maritime operation to fight traffickers. first elements), the deployment of a military operation in the Mediterranean should not suffer, like previous operations, from a lack of resources. Member States seem determined. By putting a big ship on the table right away, the United Kingdom is, in a way, forcing other countries to do the same.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).