The UK Royal Navy’s HMS Enterprise and HMS Richmond have rescued more than 540 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, as part of the navy’s assistance to the EU Naval Force Operation to tackle migrant smugglers.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "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."
After the rescue operation, the migrants were cared for by the military personnel on-board the vessels.
The migrants were later transferred to the Norwegian support ship, Fiem Pilote, to take them ashore.
Since May, Royal Navy ships have supported the rescue of almost 7,000 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.
The mission is a result of the EU’s plans to conduct a military operation to tackle human trafficking networks using ships, drones and helicopters.
The vessels involved in the mission have the powers to board and seize smuggling vessels, as well as to detain people suspected of being migrant smugglers or human traffickers.
In September, the HMS Enterprise rescued 377 migrants from the Mediterranean in an operation that saw more than 4,000 saved. The operation involved several other European ships.
Image: HMS Enterprise has rescued 439 migrants, while HMS Richmond rescued 102 people. Photo: courtesy of Crown Copyright.