UK ship RFA Mounts Bay reinforces NATO’s Aegean Sea mission
Royal Navy’s amphibious landing ship royal fleet auxiliary (RFA) Mounts Bay together with three border force cutters will join the NATO mission in the Aegean Sea that aims to reduce the flow of migrants from Turkey to Europe, the UK Prime Minister said ahead of an EU sumit.
RFA Mounts Bay, supported by a Wildcat helicopter, is expected to start operations in the coming days – identifying smugglers taking migrants to Greece and passing the information to the Turkish coastguard so they can intercept these boats.
Mounts Bay will be supported by 3 border force boats – VOS Grace which is already in the Aegean; the cutter Protector which is on its way to the region and a further Border Force cutter that is expected to start operations later this month.
With migrant arrivals in Greece still averaging 1,800 a day in February and over 116,000 arrivals across the Aegean already this year, European countries are stepping up their efforts with Turkey to break the business model of the people smuggling criminal gangs which are exploiting people and putting lives at risk every day.
RFA Mounts Bay will join the German Navy flagship FGS Bonn, the Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Fredericton, Turkish Navy frigate TCG Barbaros and Greek Navy frigate HS Salamis monitoring assigned areas.
NATO’s first intervention in the migrant crisis started February 12, 2016 following a joint initiative between Germany, Turkey and Greece.