Dramatic footage of British forces based in the Falkland Islands yesterday responding to a distress call from the 10,000 tonne luxury Ponant cruise ship Le Boreal has been released by the Ministry of Defence in London.

The ship reported suffering a major engine room fire, which caused the loss of all power and left the ship drifting. A north-westerly gale placed the ship in real danger of grounding on Cape Dolphin, East Falkland, according to a Ministry press statement.

The master ordered the ship, with 347 passengers and crew, to be abandoned.

Working closely with the Falkland Islands Government, British Forces enacted a major search and rescue plan. Two Royal Air Force Sea King Search and Rescue helicopters were scrambled, along with two other support helicopters, a C130 Hercules and a Voyager aircraft for command and control.

The Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Clyde was despatched to the scene, as were Dutch tugs which support British Forces in the Falkland Islands.

It is believed all passengers are safe and have been transferred to another ship or flown home.

It is unclear what the damage is to Le Boreal.

In a chat with Telegraph UK, Commodore Darren Bone, Commander of British Forces South Atlantic Islands, said: “We responded with everything we had yesterday to assist in what was an extremely complex and hazardous rescue operation in difficult conditions but I am delighted that we can report all of the passengers and crew of the vessel are safe and well and the vessel itself in a stable condition.

“This was a huge team effort involving close liaison with the Falkland Islands Government and I am enormously impressed with the reaction by all the British forces involved, it was an exemplary performance all round.”

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “This successful rescue in the Falklands … demonstrates how our Armed Forces are always ready to help those in peril.

“The swift action taken by Royal Navy and Royal Air Force crews, working with civilian counterparts, saved many lives and prevented this developing into a human tragedy.”