Local sailor helps refugees

Gorebridge Royal Navy sailor Chloe Thomson (20) from Gorebridge
Gorebridge Royal Navy sailor Chloe Thomson (20) from Gorebridge

A Royal Navy sailor from Gorbridge is helping the international effort to search the Mediterranean for migrants fleeing North Africa.

Chloe Thomson (20) is one of a specialist team of sailors permanently aboard Britain’s flagship HMS Bulwark, which is currently on humanitarian operations in the Mediterranean.

Chloe is a weapon engineering specialist who is responsible for the sensors and weapon systems on the ship ensuring that they are maintained and function correctly.

The assault ship, which only weeks ago was at the heart of Britain’s involvement in centenary commemorations of the Gallipoli landings in Turkey, is leading the UK’s response to the plight of people trying to leave Africa in overcrowded and unsafe boats.

The former Lasswade High School pupil is happy to be part of the humanitarian mission.

She said: “I’m proud to make a difference because I’m involved in helping vulnerable people improve their lives and their families whilst doing the job I love.”

Bulwark carried out its latest rescue of migrants last week when more than 450 people were picked up from sinking makeshift dinghies about 40 miles off the coast of Libya, plus it collected a further 180 people from an Italian ship and successfully transferred them to safety.

The ship’s vehicle deck, which normally holds tanks, armoured vehicles, Land Rovers and trucks, has been converted into a reception area where clean, dry clothes, medical treatment and food are available as HMS Bulwark delivers the rescued migrants to safety.