The Royal Navy was ordered into action on Saturday to support the establishment of an international humanitarian maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza as the foreign secretary, David Cameron, warned that the people trapped there were on the brink of famine.

Announcing the emergency deployment of a Royal Navy vessel and £9.7m for aid deliveries, Cameron said: “The situation in Gaza is dire and the prospect of famine is real. We remain committed to getting aid to those who so desperately need it. Along with the US, Cyprus and other partners, we are setting up a new temporary pier off the coast of Gaza to get aid in as quickly and securely as possible.”

The Foreign Secretary announced a £9.7million for aid deliveries; logistical expertise and equipment support to the corridor, such as forklift trucks and storage units; and expertise, to support those in need.

The plans, revealed for the first time on Saturday, include a package of military and civilian support to set up a maritime aid corridor to Gaza, as well as the deployment of a Royal Navy ship to join the mission in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The ship, alongside new UK aid and British expertise, will support the establishment of an international humanitarian maritime corridor from Cyprus to Gaza, supported by many of partner governments and the UN, and is expected to be operational in early May.

The vessel is already on its way to the Eastern Mediterranean.

In the meantime, the UK government is trying to get more aid into Gaza by land, air and sea.

In recent weeks, the Royal Air Force has conducted 5 airdrops along the coastline of Gaza, delivering over 40 tonnes of food supplies, including water, flour and baby formula.

Foreign Secretary David Cameron said: “Land access remains crucial to deliver aid at the scale now required. The opening of Erez and the Port of Ashdod is hugely welcome and something the UK has long been calling for.”

The multinational maritime corridor initiative will see tens of thousands of tonnes of aid pre-screened in Cyprus and delivered directly to Gaza, via the new US temporary pier being constructed off the coast or via Ashdod Port, which Israel has now agreed to open.

The Prime Minister raised the importance of opening Ashdod to facilitate humanitarian aid last week.

“Israel has also agreed to increase the number of aid trucks entering Gaza to a minimum of 500 a day. But we need to continue to explore all options, including by sea and air, to ease the desperate plight of some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” the foreign secretary added.