CHESTER’S affiliated warship HMS Albion rescued 310 British holiday-makers stranded in Spain because of the Volcanic Ash crisis.

The ship arrived in the northern port of Santander on Tuesday morning to pick up the tourists as well as 500 troops returning from Afghanistan.

They mixed with Army, Navy and RAF personnel as they boarded the amphibious assault ship for a 40-hour journey to Portsmouth.

About 250 were “vulnerable cases” chosen by Foreign Office officials. A further 60 lucky travellers did not have a place booked but managed to secure a passage home.

Many had travelled from across Spain, northern Africa and even South America in a bid to get back to the UK.

Speaking shortly before the Albion set sail at 1.20pm, Commander Geoff Wintle said: “It’s a warship so the civilians on board won't be used to the austere conditions, but they will get fresh rations, fish and chips for dinner tonight and curry tomorrow.

“We will provide as many camp beds and sleeping bags as we can, but it's not a five-star hotel. There’s a dry policy on board so there won't be any drinking going on.”

HMS Albion was sailing with its maximum 1,150 capacity.