MADRID – A Spanish Navy frigate rescued 227 people in two operations off the Libyan coast, according to a Spanish Ministry of Defense statement released Wednesday.
According to the ministry, the Spanish Navy frigate “Navarra” – currently off the Libyan coast, assigned to the European Union’s Eunavfor Med Sophia operation – was warned Tuesday morning of the presence in its patrol area of various pneumatic boats containing a large number of people while searching for vessels involved in human trafficking.
Once located, the frigate approached the Zodiac-manufactured rubber and rescued 115 migrants, who were later transferred to a support ship involved in the Sophia operative.
Towards noon, it got a new “ship adrift” warning and headed to the given coordinates, while the naval boarding party prepared for another rescue operation.
Once the boats were located, the “Navarra” lowered its two pneumatic auxiliary boats and rescued 112 migrants, assisting women and children first.
The migrant castaways, once on board the navy ship, were given blankets, dry clothing, food, water and medical assistance to those who required it, according to the ministry statement.
Eunavfor Med Sophia is an EU-led multinational mission channeling efforts to avoid further loss of life at sea and mitigate the causes of this major humanitarian emergency.
With its presence in these missions, the Spanish Armada (Navy) contributes to Spain’s security and defense beyond its borders and in areas where instability is created.
The “Navarra” (F-85) is the fifth of a series of six Santa Maria-class frigates built in Ferrol (A Coruña, Spain), which was commissioned in 1994.
It has a length of 138 meters and a full load displacement in excess of 4,100 long tons.
It is equipped with sensor array and weapon systems enabling it to fulfill its stated mission as a guided missile frigate and perform oceanic escort ship duties.
It has a crew of 200 and includes an embarked flight support team and a Marine Operational Security detachment.
Among its many missions, it is worth highlighting the “Atalanta” (2009) pirate-interdiction mission off the coast of Somalia and the intercept of a North Korean merchant ship (2002) carrying 15 Scud missiles to Yemen.
During the current Sophia operation it has contributed to rescuing over 3,100 migrants.