Royal Navy ships are being deployed to help rescue Brits stranded abroad as the UK’s airspace remains closed.

With the no-fly zone being extended until 1am tomorrow (Tuesday), prime minister Gordon Brown said three ships have been earmarked to ferry customers home.

HMS Ocean will head to the Channel today with HMS Ark Royal set to move ‘later’. HMS Albion, which is already en route to Spain to pick up soldiers, may also be used to ferry back stranded travellers.

Some 150,000 Brits have been stranded abroad by the volcanic ash crisis, which has meant no flights entering or leaving the UK since Thursday.

Brown revealed the measures after a meeting of the UK’s emergency committee Cobra today.

He said the government has also been in contact with the Spanish government to see how it could be of assistance.

“I talked to Prime Minister Zapatero and he has offered in principle use of Spanish airports as a hub to bring people back to Britain and we are now looking if we can make the arrangements necessary, the transport arrangements that we will support as a government, coach, ferry and train to get people either from Madrid or another Spanish airport back to Britain,” the Brown said.

Cabinet Office minister Tessa Jowell said the government would take advice from National Air Traffic Control Service (Nats) and no one else.

She also confirmed that transport secretary Lord Adonis was in hourly contact with the airlines and denied the government had been slow to act over the crisis following criticism from IATA director general and chief executive Giovanni Bisignani.