Ship boat

Blow to border security after ship used to track disabled migrants for two MONTHS

A PATROL vessel used to track Channel migrants is out of service for two months, leaving a fleet of four.

The Border Force HMC Protector Cutter is awaiting repair.

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28,561 migrants arrived by boat from France this year

The setback comes after the number of migrants arriving by boat from France this year reached 28,561 last week – up from 28,526 in 2021.

Cutters discourage illegal immigration, intercept traffickers and gather intelligence.

The government is trying to find a contractor for the £138,000 Protector fix, according to Home Office documents.

Work includes sewage cleaning, sewage tank painting and hatch closing.

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Officials issued a request on September 8 and hope to have a contractor by next Thursday. The work should be completed by the end of November.

The request stated: “HMC Protector needs a period of works. This package should be undertaken at the associated UK port of Lowestoft (HMC Protector is currently stored here).

Protector entered service in 2014 and saw service in the Mediterranean before being returned to the English Channel in 2019 by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid. Last month it was revealed that Border Force had signed a £2m deal for three Seacat boats.

Home Office sources have insisted that the planned work on Protector will not impact policing in the English Channel.

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They said the number of operational ships deployed to the southeast remained constant throughout the summer.

The Home Office did not say how long the HMC Protector had been in storage.