ARMED French sea marshals were deployed on Brittany Ferries’ Barfleur this week as part of an ongoing mission to deter terrorist attacks.

The ferry company confirmed seven marshals were dropped by helicopter during the pre-scheduled operation, which took place in international waters on Wednesday as the Barfleur sailed from Poole to Cherbourg.

Brittany Ferries spokesman Christopher Jones said: “Passengers were informed via announcements in English and French before the sea marshals arrived. Access to outside decks was not allowed at the time of the helicopter’s arrival.

“They travelled with passengers, patrolling public areas of the ship, and left on foot in Cherbourg.

“We hope passengers were reassured by the latest visible sea marshal presence on board - and thank them for travelling with Brittany Ferries.”

The deployment took place on the 8.30am Poole to Cherbourg ferry, which had 369 passengers on board.

Armed French police started patrolling cross-Channel ferries earlier this summer, in response to the recent terrorist attacks in France. Currently there is no agreement in place for French police to patrol vessels in UK waters. However, the Home Office has confirmed security plans are under “constant review.”

Speaking to the AFP news agency, last month, Lieutenant Pierre-Joachim Antona explained a permanent unit had been deployed to carry out high-visibility patrols on passenger ferries. “The marine gendarmes will carry out patrols, which will be random but regular, with the aim of securing these vessels against the terrorist threat,” he added.

Outside of UK waters, which stretch 12 nautical miles from the coast, jurisdiction to board shipping depends on where that vessel has been registered.

Mr Jones said: “Sea marshal patrols are part of France’s response to recent terrorist attacks and are a complement to robust safety and security procedures aboard Brittany Ferries ships. They’re part of the International Shipping and Port Security code, endorsed by the International Maritime Organisation.”