“Any compact must include 24/7 aerial surveillance, so that any small craft setting off from the French coast will be swiftly intercepted and helped safely back to France. This crisis has gone on far too long. Urgent action is now required to bring the crisis to an end before there is a tragedy in the English Channel.”
Border Force has a total fleet of five cutters and six Coastal Patrol Vessels (CPVs). Two CPVs and two cutters, HMC Vigilant and HMC Searcher, are currently deployed in the Channel working as part of an enhanced patrol rotation.
The Home Secretary announced on 31 December that two Border Force cutters, Protector and Seeker, will be re-deployed from overseas to the Channel.
Speaking in the House of Commons today, Mr Javid said: “While we are awaiting the arrival of two cutters for early February, we have increased the presence of vessels including with help from the Royal Navy.
He added that “Aerial surveillance is already a measure that we have started deploying on the English Channel since I declared it a major incident.”
But the Telegraph has learned that while one dinghy carrying eight suspected migrants was spotted off the coast of Dover, yesterday HMS Mersey – the Navy ship being used by as an interim measure – was already heading back to Portsmouth as part of a routine changeover with another navy vessel.
HMS Mersey, which is costing the Home Office £20,000 a day, was almost directly above the Channel Tunnel at 3:34am on Monday, but despite an incident being reported at around 4am, it continued its course to Portsmouth, where it docked just after 3pm.