The crew on the Royal Navy survey ship HMS Enterprise has received a prestigious pan-service award for saving over 9,000 lives during a humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean.
Their work was formally recognised by Armed Forces Minister Mike Penning during a visit to Gibraltar at the weekend, coinciding with the ship’s short stop at the Rock for fuel and provisions.
HMS Enterprise was part of Operation Sophia, the EU’s response to the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.
The operation focuses on eradicating any criminal activity that endangers the lives of migrants travelling to Europe.
Of the 30,000 migrants rescued so far, HMS Enterprise saved over 9,000 and significantly reduced the number of human smugglers and arms traffickers, the MoD said.
While in Gibraltar, Mr Penning toured the vessel and personally thanked members of her crew, presenting them with the Firmin Sword of Peace in recognition of her service.
The Firmin Sword of Peace is given to the unit or establishment of each military service judged to have made the most valuable contribution to humanitarian activities.
“Through the stellar efforts of HMS Enterprise and her crew, the Royal Navy has continued to provide vital support in the Mediterranean, saving thousands of lives,” Mr Penning said.
“We remain committed to this operation, which is hitting the criminal gangs responsible for putting innocent lives at risk, and HMS Echo will continue the UK’s contribution.”
Philip Harper, Commanding Officer of HMS Enterprise, received the award and acknowledged the challenges of long deployments at sea.
“After two and a half years deployed away from the UK, and with another four months yet to run, my ship’s company are very proud to have received the Firmin Sword of Peace for their lifesaving efforts,” he said.
“This award recognises not only the commitment of my sailors, but also the sacrifices made and separation endured by their families.”