In recognition of its international humanitarian service on behalf of the people of Ireland and the European Union, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has decided to award the Irish Naval Service the civic honour of "Freedom of Entry" to the county.
The award will be conferred on the officers and crew of the LÉ Eithne at a special ceremony at 1pm on Friday 31st March at Harbour Plaza, Dún Laoghaire.
LÉ Eithne likewise of the seven-strong fleet has an adopted homeport, in the case of the Helicopter Patrol Vessel this is Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The HPV will be berthed during the ceremony at St. Micheals Wharf which is located just beyond the Harbour Plaza. From here there are views of the East Pier and in the distance Howth Peninsula.
The fourth Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) for the Irish Naval Service will bear the name of renowned Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. The announcement was made during a traditional Keel Laying Ceremony, to mark a significant milestone being reached in the build process for the fourth new OPV, in Babcock’s Shipbuilding Yard in Devon, UK.
The Keel Laying ceremony was attended by the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe TD, senior representatives from Babcock, the Defence Forces and the Department of Defence, as well as Naval Service members involved in the build project.
The new ship will be the same class as LÉ Samuel Beckett, LÉ James Joyce and LÉ William Butler Yeats and the name George Bernard Shaw maintains the approach of naming this class of vessel after Irish literary greats.
Speaking at the ceremony Minister said “Whether it is carrying out defence and security operations, on sea fisheries patrols, search and rescue operations or on overseas missions such as the humanitarian operation in the Mediterranean, the efforts of the Naval Service are enhanced by having access to new vessels equipped with the latest available capabilities.
Reflecting on the relationship between the Defence organisation and Babcock which has already seen a number of the current in-service Irish Naval Service vessels built in the Appledore facility Minister Kehoe said
“The Government’s current ship replacement programme has delivered three Naval Service vessels, representing a significant investment by the Government in the provision of defence capability for the State. The ship that is being built at present will be the fourth in this class providing huge commonality benefits to the Naval Service and allowing for greater operational capacity.”
Minister Kehoe concluded by complimenting employees at Babcock “for their ability to produce well designed and stylish ships with state of the art equipment which have already proven their value to the Irish Naval Service both at home and on overseas missions.”
The operation is being coordinated by the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre in Valentia and is being supported by the Naval ship LÉ Róisín. Crew members from the LÉ Róisín went on board the vessel and assisted with casualty evacuation. Communication support and back up, known as Top Cover was provided by a second Coast Guard helicopter, the Waterford based R117.
Weather conditions in the area for helicopter operations were difficult, bordering on marginal for such operations with a strong West South West swell and winds gusting in excess of 35mph.
The helicopter is currently routing to University Hospital Limerick, to arrive before 7:30pm, following an essential fuel stopover at Kerry airport.
This is the second operation in recent weeks where the LÉ Róisín assisted the Coast Guard in an operation at sea. Coast Guard helicopters are capable of operating out to 200 miles and operations of this nature are indicative of the professionalism of the Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue crews. The Coast Guard complimented the crew of the LÉ Róisín for their efficiency in operating a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) in difficult conditions and for getting crewmembers onto the fishing vessel.
LÉ Roisin responded to a request to provide medical assistance and recover an injured fisherman approx 200 nautical miles off Loop Head. pic.twitter.com/AFmnT3Vl5G— Irish Defence Forces (@defenceforces) February 21, 2017
#NavalReview - The Defence Forces in the year of 2016 have been tasked by the Government to play a central role in the 1916 Centenary Commemorative programme.
Notwithstanding the ceremonial activities performed during 2016, Óglaigh na hÉireann maintained operations, contributing to security both at home and internationally in 15 countries and one sea tasked to the Irish Naval Service.
Below is a sample of the breadth of activities undertaken by the Defence Forces (Review) in 2016 in which the Naval Service forms on of three branches the others been the Army and Air Corps.
Afloat has concentrated on highlighting the role of the Naval Service. No fewer than three OPV continued to play a pivotal role last year in overseas missions in search and rescue (SAR) of refugees and migrants in the central Mediterranean Sea off Libya.
*Statistics quoted are provisional to date and are subject to finalisation in the 2016 Annual Report which will be published in early 2017.
The Defence Forces have the longest unbroken record of overseas service of any country in the world since first deploying to a United Nations mission in 1958. Some details of the Defence Forces contribution to international peace and security, on behalf of Ireland, are below:
In 2016 over 1400 Defence Forces personnel served in overseas Peace Support and Security operations in 15 countries and one sea. Currently over 600 Defence Forces personnel are serving in 15 countries.
The Defence Forces deployed three Naval ships (Afloat add they were L.E. Samuel Becket, L.E. James Joyce and L.E. Roisin) and over 150 Naval Service and Army personnel to the Mediterranean this year. This was in response to the humanitarian crisis supporting the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre with Search and Rescue assistance.
The total number of migrants rescued in 2016 by the men and women of Óglaigh na nÉireann was 7,029 and over 15,500 since operations began in 2015.
The Naval Service has completed over 1,200 boardings and made 3 detentions so far in 2016 for alleged infringements of fishing regulations, the Air corps conducted over 300 Maritime Surveillance Patrol flights.
The Naval Service & Air Corps patrol 220 million maritime acres of sea (over twelve times the land mass of Ireland) representing 15% of Europe’s fisheries.
Naval Service Dive Team were deployed 10 times in 2016 including seven separate Search and Recovery operations following requests from the Coast Guard and An Garda Síochána.
To also read more about the roles of the Army and Air Corps activities in the review click here.
#BeckettHome - In time for Christmas with an arrival home writes The Irish Examiner. Hugs, kisses, and a few tears of joy shed as the crew of the LÉ Samuel Beckett disembarked to be greeted by loved ones yesterday after 85 days on migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
However, many of the sailors will forever remember the horrors they witnessed off the coast of Libya, as merciless people-smugglers knowingly send migrants to a certain death if they’re not rescued.
Ship’s captain Lieutenant Commander Darragh Kirwan said he had no doubt the migrants crammed into inflatable rubber dinghies would never have made it to Italy.
On their first day of operations, six migrants drowned as the ship went to the rescue of a group packed into a dinghy.
“Around 25% of all inflatables we came across had punctured chambers. There isn’t enough food on board them and they are only given enough petrol for 50 miles. They [people smugglers] know they are sending people to their deaths,” the senior officer said.
To add to their woes, “jackals”, as the navy term them, often prey on the migrants at sea, stealing their outboard motors and personal valuables.
For much more on the Haulbowline homecoming click here
The award was given by the European Movement Ireland in recognition of the Defence Forces’ contribution to international peacekeeping and humanitarian work.
The award was presented at a ceremony on Monday in Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who is honorary president of the Movement.
“The Defence Forces have a proud history of international service for Ireland and on behalf of the European Union and the United Nations, ” he said. “They are a very worthy recipient, especially this year, when, as well as their ongoing humanitarian and peace-keeping endeavours abroad, they have played a very prominent and important role in our 1916 Centenary commemorations.”
Approximately 385 Defence Forces personnel are serving overseas at present.
For the past two years, the Naval Service has been involved in Operation Pontus, supporting the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre which has been overseeing a multi-lateral effort at rescuing migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea from north Africa.
Since May 2015, Defence Forces ships rescued over 15,000 would-be migrants attempting to cross the sea. The newapaper has more here.
Afloat adds that the awards ceremony took place also with yesterday's RTE One broadcast of 'The Crossing'
With unprecedented access, The Crossing tells story of one month in the LÉ Samuel Beckett’s deployment in the southern Mediterranean. It shows the reality for both the crew and the migrants as their worlds meet in the middle of the sea, often in the most difficult of circumstances. To view click this link to the RTE iplayer here.
Following the harrowing reality of The Crossing which examined the humanitarian mission of 'Operation Pontus' RTE also had a follow-up Claire Byrne Live Extras: Defence Forces in the Mediterranean. Minister of State at the Department of Defence, Paul Kehoe, actor Liam Cunningham who is a charity ambassador for World Vision and columnist Ian O’Doherty discuss the Irish response to the migrant crisis. Are we suitably equipped to take in large numbers of refugees and how do we treat migrants who have already arrived here?
To also view this current affairs programme click here.
LÉ Samuel Beckett which was deployed in September is to end its search and rescue missions and is due to return to Irish waters this Friday.
As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 9,500-tonne FV Margiris — one of the largest fishing vessels in the world — prompted renewed fears among local fisherman and conservationists last week when it was spotted in fishing grounds off Donegal.
News of the Naval Service inspection has been welcomed by the Irish Wildlife Trust, though it cautioned on the need for a full-time inspection regime for such large-scale factory trawlers to ensure they are fishing legally and within quota, and not causing harm to protected wildlife such as dolphins.
The Donegal Democrat has more on the story HERE.
The idea of using the LÉ Aisling as a visitor attraction in the city, has been floated with Government.
Paul Kehoe, Junior Minister at the Department of Defence, this week said the request is “under consideration”.
The ship, which had been twinned with Galway City for almost 20 years, has travelled 628,856 nautical miles, the equivalent of travelling around the world more than 32 times.
It was decommissioned at a ceremony in Galway Harbour in June after 36 years of service to the State.
At the time, City Councillor Pearce Flannery (FG), the deputy mayor, suggested it could be used as a floating museum in Galway Harbour or off Salthill.
Minister Kehoe this week said he would soon make a decision as what to do with the LÉ Aisling. To read more click here.
#AranIslands - The use of the Irish Naval Service to provide a short-term service to residents on Inis Mór (largest of the Oileán Árann /Aran Islands) is being explored by Gaeltacht Minister Sean Kyne.
As Galway Bay FM reports the proposal follows the planned withdrawal of the winter service to the largest Aran Island until March 2017, with the last ferry set to depart at 6pm this evening (yesterday, 30th November).
Operator Island Ferries Teoranta has reaffirmed it’s intention to suspend the service – citing the ‘negative fiscal conditions’ created by the local authority with the introduction of passenger levies.
For more on the developing story, click here.
Afloat.ie adds that vital sea transportation links to Inis Mór are still been maintained albeit by a cargo-only operator, Lasta Mara Teoranta. This company serves the three islands from the mainland not just out of Rossaveel in Connemara but also Galway Port.
As of this morning Afloat.ie monitored their coastal freighter MV Bláth na Mara that departed Inis Oirr bound for Galway Port's outer pier. This is the final leg of a round trip that previously included calls firstly to Inis Mór followed by Inis Meáin.
Another crises that faced islanders was in August when Lasta Mara's other freight ro-ro vessel MV Chateau-Thierry came to the aid of two of three islands with generators that were used to restore electricity. This followed power-cuts caused by a damaged subsea cable connecting the mainland.
#NewMedals – New International Operational Service Medals were presented to members of the Defence Forces by Minister Paul Kehoe in Dun Laoghaire Harbour at the weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The medals are in recognition of their humanitarian missions overseas which included Naval Service crew members that were deployed to the Mediterranean Sea due to the migrant refugee crisis. Other members of the Defence Forces that were deployed for example in Sierra Leone, west Africa were also awarded medals.
To mark the occasion that took place on Saturday at the Carlisle Pier was berthed LE James Joyce (P62). The offshore patrol vessel (OPV) had taken part in Operation Pontus during her Mediterranean deployment until replaced in September by a sister LE Samuel Beckett.
Less than 48 hours after the award ceremony LE Samuel Beckett rescued more than 500 migrants off the Libyan coast.