‘Boarding is complete… see you next time’: The chummy chatter between French and UK vessels as they board Channel migrants from their dinghy
France‘s promise to help Britain stop illegal migrant crossings has been exposed as a farce by a mid-Channel sea conversation between the two nation’s patrol ships.
A maritime recording has revealed a French Navy vessel instructing a British Border Force cutter to confirm when it ‘completed the boarding’ of migrants from their dinghy.
The audio of the formal handover 12 miles off the Kent coast was picked up on a public radio channel last Thursday morning by a British fisherman who passed it to the Mail.
In language echoing the terminology of a commercial airline flight, the French Navy captain escorting the migrant dinghy from the north French coast asks Border Force cutter Hurricane: ‘Could you just confirm to me that you have finished boarding the dinghy?’
The officer of Hurricane responds: ‘Everyone is on board. Yes I can confirm that boarding is complete.’
In language echoing the terminology of a commercial airline flight, the French Navy captain asks the Border Force cutter Hurricane if they have finished boarding migrants from a dinghy (Pictured: Stock image of French Navy vessel)
The French captain of Esvagt Charlie, a Danish vessel leased to the French government to monitor migrant crossings, concludes: ‘Thank you very much. I will pass this back to my watch… good, see you next time, sir.’
The recording has sparked a row as Channel fishermen who heard it told the Mail: ‘This sounds more like an EasyJet flight. Boarding completed is a phrase normally used between staff on a commercial flight or ferry crossing.’
One harbour worker in Dover added: ‘It is all so chummy. The French Navy is passing these people like parcels to the British border force who, after all, are meant to be protecting our shores from strangers as their title says.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Border professionals operating in difficult environments use established terminology while conducting life-saving operations – as is the case here.
‘Our priority is to stop the boats, and our Small Boats Operational Command is working alongside our French partners and other agencies to save lives and disrupt the people smugglers.’
Britain is paying nearly half a billion pounds over the next three years to the French to prevent small boats from crossing the Channel
The Mail has also obtained recordings of an incident on Monday when the French Navy warship Arm, also on Channel rescue duties, told a number of huge cargo vessels sailing under international flags to alter course in the world’s busy shipping lane to allow a migrant boat safely through from French to British waters for boarding by Border Force.
The Mail has three maritime recordings of the almost identical messages when the French warship tells the container ships and oil tankers registered in the Marshall Islands, Norway, the UK and Panama to move out of the way. One radio message says: ‘Good morning. This is French warship Arm calling you. We are conducting (migrant) safety operations. In order to avoid any collisions please alter your course 20 degrees to the port side.’
A seasoned fisherman sailing out of the Kent coast monitored the result of the French warship Arm’s demand for ships to divert.
He said: ‘These big ships take miles to change course in the narrowest and busiest part of the Channel. They are being asked to take risks to other seagoers that are not acceptable.
‘In the middle of the Monday mayhem was a small French fishing boat called Brise Lame 11. It must have been terrifying for the crew as the huge boats suddenly changed course around them. They were sitting ducks.’
A maritime recording has revealed a French Navy vessel instructing a British Border Force cutter to confirm when it ‘completed the boarding’ of migrants from their dinghy
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a flagship Tory policy has pledged to ‘stop the boats’
Last year 45,000 people arrived on traffickers’ boats across the Channel. The number in 2023 so far is almost 21,000 people in 436 boats.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in a flagship Tory policy has pledged to ‘stop the boats’.
His office this week said: ‘In general terms we are working closely with our French counterparts.
‘This year alone, more than 15,000 Channel migrants have been prevented from reaching the UK.’
Britain is paying nearly half a billion pounds over the next three years to the French to prevent small boats from crossing the Channel.
Tory backbencher Natalie Elphicke, MP for Dover, has said that for the enormous payment Mr Sunak must demand France stop the boats from leaving their shores.
Last week Graeme Biggar, the National Crime Agency’s director general, said EU safety laws could be used to seize the small boats used by people smugglers before they leave French shores.