Baby amongst the 400 people rescued by LE Eithne
Irish naval vessel LE Eithne resumed humanitarian search and rescue operations yesterday, immediately after bringing almost 400 migrants to the safety of a port in Italy.
The ship arrived at the docks at Taranto port at 7.40am with 280 men, 78 women and 41 children, including a baby, who were rescued in two separate operations on the Mediterranean during the weekend.
Naval service video footage showed the rescued people clapping loudly on the deck of the Irish ship.
Irish sailors, wearing protective clothing, helped the people ashore and carried some of the refugees. Some of the youngest saved from the sea were only infants.
The Italian authorities took over the care of the migrants as the crew of the LE Eithne quickly resupplied and refuelled their vessel.
The ship then departed the port and headed for its patrolling area in the southern Mediterranean.
Since its deployment to the Mediterranean last month, the LE Eithne crew has saved more than 1,150 people.
Most migrants embark from Libya in unsuitable crafts, often unseaworthy and overcrowded, in an attempt to reach Europe.
Minister for Defence Simon Coveney has praised the naval service for their continued role in assisting with the migrant crisis.
"I would like to thank the crew of the LE Eithne for their outstanding work in the Mediterranean to date. And I would like to wish them continued success in their endeavours," said the minister.