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Coastguard audio call reveals reality of Channel migrant rescue missions

Distress calls alerting Her Majesty’s Coastguard to small migrant boats in the Channel have become a routine - and often daily - occurrence off the south east coast of England.

An audio call obtained by The Times reveals the careful but urgent process that HM Coastguard, the RNLI, Border Force, commercial ships and fishing vessels have to go through every time a migrant boat is spotted in the 21-mile stretch between Calais and Dover, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.

The audio of a mission to rescue one of three migrant boats on January 10 begins with the Dover coastguard team tasking the RNLI after a French warship left the boat unaccompanied in order to attend another rescue mission elsewhere in its waters.

The RNLI and HMC Speedwell, a Border Force patrol vessel, coordinate in the rescue mission and must carefully communicate with a tanker named Opal Ace and a fishing vessel Blue Angel to ensure the migrant boat’s safety.

To read the transcript in full, and listen to the audio, please click here.


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