Navy sends four boats to the Channel during first ‘red day’ in charge

In a speech at Lydd airport in Kent announcing the move, Mr Johnson said the aim was to ensure that “no boat makes it to the UK undetected” by “identifying, intercepting and investigating” all attempts. It will be backed by £50 million of new Government funding.

Pointing to incoming laws introducing life sentences for people-smugglers, Mr Johnson said the new deployment would “send a clear message to those piloting the boats: if you risk other people’s lives in the Channel, you risk spending your own life in prison”.

The Government has come under immense pressure to cut the number of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats, which has already hit a record 5,000 this year – double last year’s figure. On Wednesday, 600 people reached the UK, the highest number in a day so far this year.

Military sources estimated that around 250 to 300 Royal Navy and army personnel will be deployed on the Channel operations with a prime aim to protect and save life at sea given the perilous nature of the crossing in flimsy small boats.

It will supplement Border Force’s three 140-foot cutters – two of which are deployed at any one time, and up to eight rigid hull inflatable vessels. It has also got two crew transport vessels, low-slung boats that can carry up to 100 people.

They are supported by drones, fixed-wing unmanned surveillance aircraft that can remain airborne for 20 hours and four jet skis, which have been trialled for so-called “turn around” operations.

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