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A Harbour Seal photographed at Dun Laoghaire Marina on Dublin Bay, Ireland. Also known as the common seal, is a true seal found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines of the Northern Hemisphere. The most widely distributed species of pinnipeds, they are found in coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Baltic and North seas. Photo: AfloatA photograph of a Harbour Seal taken at Dun Laoghaire Marina on Dublin Bay, Ireland. Also known as the common seal, this species can be found along temperate and Arctic marine coastlines throughout the Northern Hemisphere. They are the most widely distributed species of pinnipeds and can be found in the coastal waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as the Baltic and North Seas. Photo: Afloat

Displaying items by tag: Crew Crisis

With a fleet including several Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), the Naval Service has only been able to put one such ship into operational duty for the past month due to a combination of mechanical issues and a lack of specialist crew.

According to the Irish Examiner, it has also learned that the personnel shortage include expert technicians which has in part, delayed the deployment of two former Royal New Zealand inshore patrol vessels (IPV), costing €26m, which arrived to Cork Harbour as deck-cargo on board a heavy-lift ship from New Zealand last May. The ‘Lake’ class patrol cutters are unlikely to become operational until this winter.

The ongoing crewing crisis, despite following a recruitment campaign of recent months, has meant that no decision has yet been made on whether an OPV will again be deployed this summer for the EU’s IRINI mission in the Mediterranean Sea. The overseas deployment mission is aimed to enforce an oil export embargo from Libya and prevent gun-running activities into the same north African country.

Queries from newspaper on the availability of just one OPV to patrol one million square kilometres of the Republic’s Economic Exclusion Zone (EEZ) was responded by the Defence Forces which said it "does not give specifics on operational units nor their movements, for operational security reasons".

"The Defence Forces also does not offer comment on personnel movements, for similar reasons," it said. The newspaper understands that the one ship which was involved on patrolling, was only able to maintain such a role, by swapping a crew from a second vessel which too  hasn’t been operational.

More here on the newspaper's story and for Afloat’s coverage last week, of the Wärtsilä five-year maintenance contract with the Naval Service, which will fill the void caused by the shortage of the navy's own specialists. has since confirmed with the Naval Service, that the contract with Wärtsilä, not surpringly applies to the more modern OPV's in the fleet, the quartet of the P60 class, among them L.E. James Joyce (P62) as seen above at Dun Laoghaire Harbour last month.

The OPV would later that month return to Dublin Bay but call to the capital and then depart on 24th January for further patrol. 

Published in Navy

Naval Service crew are to see their allowance payment doubled as the Government has announced such payments will take effect, but only after ten days are spent at sea, reports RTE News.

Currently, the Patrol Duty Allowance (PDA) is paid at just over €64 per day to all crew, but as of 1 January, 2024, the allowance will be increased to over €128 per day after an initial ten days are conducted on voyage patrol duties.

Announcing the measure, Tánaiste and Minister for Defence said: “I very much welcome this new measure, which provides greater clarity on the overall package available to our Naval Service personnel and potential recruits."

“The challenges facing the Naval Service and the wider organisation are well documented, but the commitment, courage and excellence of our serving members is clear, as recently demonstrated in the recent detention of the cargo vessel MV Matthew."

“This is part of our ongoing investment in our Defence Forces; in its people, infrastructure, capabilities and culture.”

Introduction of next year’s measures, it is hoped will help to reduce the crewing crisis of recent years in the Naval Service and make the job more attractive in recruiting new personnel.

In addition to the doubling of the PDA, in turn this to boost the ability of the Naval Service to have all of its ships, Afloat adds with exception of Inshore Patrol Vessels (IPV) due in service next year, rather than having the majority of them in dock, as is currently the case because of a lack of crew.

RTE News has more here.

Only two vessels, Afloat highlights are operational for the remainder of this year, the offshore patrol vessels (OPV) of the P60 class, the leadship LÉ Samuel Beckett (P61) and LÉ William Butler Yeats (P63).

Published in Navy

Just two patrol vessels of the Naval Service will be available to go to sea until the new year.

As reports sources have said that considerations are being made to have a reduced fleet in 2024 due to the ongoing crew staffing crisis.

The two vessels available to go to sea for the remainder of this year will be the offshore patrol vessel (OPV) 90 series LÉ Samuel Beckett (P61) the leadship, and LÉ William Butler Yeats (P63). The latter OPV recently returned from a deployment to the Mediterranean.

As part of the reduced fleet measures, it is understood a third OPV ship will be kept on standby.

The development follows a high-level meeting at the Naval Service base on Haulbowline Island, Cork Harbour, where discussions on the issue took place in recent days.

Senior naval officers following the meeting met the affected crew of the vessels to inform them that they were forced to tie up patrol vessels at the Naval Base. This will mean that all but two of the eight patrol ships of the naval fleet will be in service until the end of the year.

Of this fleet total of eight ships, Afloat highlights that two are Inshore Patrol Vessels (IPV) that previously served the Royal New Zealand Navy, however the pair will not be entering service until 2024.

More from here on the reduced capability of the Naval Service.

Published in Navy

Crew from one of the Naval Service’s tied-up ships in Cork Harbour are to be transferred to fill staffing gaps on two ships so to enable the retention of patrols in Irish waters as a vessel is dispatched to the Mediterranean.

The offshore patrol vessel (OPV) P60 class LÉ William Butler Yeats in six weeks is to depart overseas so to participate in Operation Irini. This operation is an EU mission to prevent arms smuggling into war torn Libya in north Africa.

Sources according to The Journal, have said staffing levels are so grave in the Naval Service base in Haulbowline Island, (opposite of Cobh) that the crew of LÉ James Joyce will be transferred on board two other OPV P60 class vessels so to enable patrols to be maintained.

The two P60’s involved in domestic duties are the LÉ George Bernard Shaw and LÉ Samuel Beckett in which the latter is the leadship of the quartet of the class otherwise known as the ‘Beckett’ class.

Currently the LÉ James Joyce is undergoing refurbishment work and it is understood from these same sources is that the plan is to delay the ship’s return to service.

The delay would therefore allow its crew to help keep both Beckett class ships at sea.

If this scenario arises, this will leave the Naval Service with just two ships patrolling Irish waters.

More here on the operational challenges given the crew crisis.

Published in Navy

A pair of Naval Service offshore patrol vessels (OPV) according to The are to be tied up in Haulbowline, Cork Harbour as there are not enough crew to operate the vessels.

It has been confirmed by the Department of Defence (DOD) that the OPV P50's series LE Róisín (P51) and LE Niamh (P52) will be unable to head to sea due to crippling staffing retention and recruitment crisis in the Defence Forces.

(Afloat adds this would leave the naval fleet with just a quartet of OPV P60 series among them the final member LE George Bernard Shaw (P64) which came into service in 2018. All four ships in addition to the older OPV P50 / Róisín series were built in Appledore, England and before the Harland & Wolff Group acquired the shipyard in north Devon).

The development to reduce the fleet came a day before Tánaiste and Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin visited Irish troops in Lebanon (yesterday)for the first time since he took over at the DOD.

The decision to mothball OPV P50's according to sources was made last week in discussions during a high level meeting of defence civil servants and senior officers in the Defence Forces.

The same sources it is understood said that the remaining members of the OPV P60's ships’ crews (each with 44 crew and 6 officers) have yet to be informed of the move.

Another pair of naval vessels acquired from the Royal New Zealand Navy are scheduled to arrive in the coming months, however it remains unknown if crew numbers can be found to operate these Inshore Patrol Vessels.

Further reading here on this story. 

Published in Navy

To address the persistent crew crisis in the Naval Service, the Defence Forces is considering attempting to recruit sailors from outside the country.

The Naval Service which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, is almost 300 below its establishment strength of 1,094 personnel, having seen levels fall to 800 currently.

The possibility of hiring a “marine specialist talent acquisition agency” is under examination by officials. If established, the agency would conduct a global search for expert mariners to replace the large numbers of personnel that in recent years have departed the Naval Service.

Of the three branches that form the Defence Forecs, the most affected is the Naval Service as the staffing crisis has led to patrol ships been unable to head to sea. Last July, three patrol vessels were decomissioned reducing the fleet total to six ships, however a pair of secondhand Royal New Zealand Navy inshore cutters are to due enter service this year.

In much demand from the private sector are highly trained navy marine technicians, electricians and engineers. This has led to personnel quitting the navy as the draw to the private sector typcially offers more attactive pay and conditions.

The Irish Times has more including the ongoing process to purchase a 'multi-role vessel' as Afloat previously reported. 

Published in Navy

The strength of personnel in the Naval Service which celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, has fallen below the 800 mark which is over 200 below its minimum staffing level of 1,094.

There are no captains heading cavalry squadrons when they are supposed to have at least three, while infantry battalions have three when they should have eight. In addition to the crewing crisis, there is also a shortage of doctors within the Defence Forces.

With an ever-worsening personnel crisis has led the president of the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO), the officers’ association, to maintain it is time to say no to certain demands that military management might make.

Across the three wings of the Defence Forces, vacancies remain in the army, the air corps but the navy continues to suffer the most where member numbers have been reduced to 799. 

More from the Irish Examiner  which understands that so far this year, 102 people have quit the navy, with just 28 recruits joining the force.

The number of patrol vessels has also reduced this year from 9 down to 6 as Afloat previously reported following the decomissioning of a trio of ageing vessels all dating to 1984.

Due to lack of crew technicians, further ships may also be tied-up along with a pair of coastal patrol vessels which the Department of Defence acquired earlier this year from the Royal New Zealand Navy.

The 'Lake' class cutters however have yet to arrive in Irish waters. 

Published in Navy

About €1.2 million is to be spent on external contractors to keep Naval Service ships at sea due to the drastic shortage of personnel, reports The Irish Times.

In recent years, electrical artificers, who are responsible for maintaining and repairing patrol ships’ electrical systems, have been departing the navy in large numbers due to high demand in the private sector as Afloat previously reported.

An entire class of trainees also recently left for the private sector in one go.

Currently the Naval Service is in the process of seeking to replace these workers with contractors from private companies. These will work alongside sailors in the electrical electronic section under the direction of its commanding officer. The intent is to augment the section “and not replace” it, the Naval Service said in procurement documents.

The private contractors will carry out planned and unplanned maintenance but will not be expected to go to sea.

“Due to a short-term lack in skilled electrical artificers (electronic technicians/electricians) the Naval Service require a contracted service assistance to provide technical support to the existing staff within the EES,” it said.

More from the newspaper here.

Published in Navy

Two large patrol vessels of the Naval Service will be forced to tie up along with mothballing two smaller ships it purchased from New Zealand if immediate steps are not taken to recruit fully-trained engine room specialists to crew them.

At present, highly trained Engine Room Articifiers (ERAs) — technicians who are vital to keeping the ships running — are operating at 41% of their minimal strength, while the Navy's electricians' branch is at operating at just 32%.

Projections of a further exodus of such experts from the Naval Service have prompted warnings that the LÉ Roisin and LÉ Niamh could be tied up in 2023 and/or 2024. Such highly-trained specialists are extremely thin on the ground in Ireland and to plug the gaps the Navy may have to source them in Europe.

The figures also suggest it will be very difficult to provide ERAs to crew the two smaller New Zealand patrol ships due to arrive next year.

More from Irish Examiner on the PDFORRA conference and the Air Corps.

Published in Navy

The strength of the Naval Service is at its lowest ebb in 42 years with the exodus of highly experienced people showing no sign of abating.

There is increasing concern that by the late autumn it could be getting close to just 800 personnel – whereas it should have a minimum of 1,094.

There are just 841 personnel on the books at present, but the Irish Examiner (which has more) understands this includes an unspecified number, (believed to be around 30) who have officially signalled they want to leave and are waiting their discharge papers.

This would bring the Naval Service ever closer to what experts say is a "critical 800-level" making it increasingly difficult to "keep the ship/s afloat" especially as recruitment isn't keeping pace with departures.

Despite the best efforts of a cohort of Naval Service personnel – who have embarked on around-the-country recruitment campaigns in shopping centres, second-level schools etc – the latest recruit class of enlisted personnel had just six in training.

Published in Navy
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For all you need on the Marine Environment - covering the latest news and updates on marine science and wildlife, weather and climate, power from the sea and Ireland's coastal regions and communities - the place to be is

Coastal Notes

The Coastal Notes category covers a broad range of stories, events and developments that have an impact on Ireland's coastal regions and communities, whose lives and livelihoods are directly linked with the sea and Ireland's coastal waters.

Topics covered in Coastal Notes can be as varied as the rare finding of sea-life creatures, an historic shipwreck with secrets to tell, or even a trawler's net caught hauling much more than just fish.

Other angles focusing the attention of Coastal Notes are Ireland's maritime museums, which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of our nautical heritage, and those who harvest the sea using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety pose an issue, plying their trade along the rugged wild western seaboard.

Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied as the environment they come from, and which shape people's interaction with the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

Marine Wildlife

One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with Marine Wildlife. It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. And as boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify, even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat. Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse, it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to our location in the North Atlantic, there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe. From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals, the Marine Wildlife category documents the most interesting accounts around our shores. And we're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and video clips, too!

Also valuable is the unique perspective of all those who go afloat, from coastal sailing to sea angling to inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing, as what they encounter can be of great importance to organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG). Thanks to their work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. But as impressive as the list is, the experts believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves, keep a sharp look out!


As an island in the North Atlantic, Ireland's fate is decided by Weather more so than many other European countries. When storm-force winds race across the Irish Sea, ferry and shipping services are cut off, disrupting our economy. When swollen waves crash on our shores, communities are flooded and fishermen brace for impact - both to their vessels and to their livelihoods.

Keeping abreast of the weather, therefore, is as important to leisure cruisers and fishing crews alike - for whom a small craft warning can mean the difference between life and death - as it is to the communities lining the coast, where timely weather alerts can help protect homes and lives.

Weather affects us all, and will keep you informed on the hows and the whys.

Marine Science

Perhaps it's the work of the Irish research vessels RV Celtic Explorer and RV Celtic Voyager out in the Atlantic Ocean that best highlights the essential nature of Marine Science for the future growth of Ireland's emerging 'blue economy'.

From marine research to development and sustainable management, Ireland is developing a strong and well-deserved reputation as an emerging centre of excellence. Whether it's Wavebob ocean energy technology to aquaculture to weather buoys and oil exploration, the Marine Science category documents the work of Irish marine scientists and researchers and how they have secured prominent roles in many European and international marine science bodies.

Power From The Sea

The message from the experts is clear: offshore wind and wave energy is the future. And as Ireland looks towards the potential of the renewable energy sector, generating Power From The Sea will become a greater priority in the State's 'blue growth' strategy.

Developments and activities in existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector, and those of the energy exploration industry, point to the future of energy requirements for the whole world, not just in Ireland. And that's not to mention the supplementary industries that sea power projects can support in coastal communities.

Irish ports are already in a good position to capitalise on investments in offshore renewable energy services. And Power From The Sea can even be good for marine wildlife if done properly.

Aside from the green sector, our coastal waters also hold a wealth of oil and gas resources that numerous prospectors are hoping to exploit, even if people in coastal and island areas are as yet unsure of the potential benefits or pitfalls for their communities.

Changing Ocean Climate

Our ocean and climate are inextricably linked - the ocean plays a crucial role in the global climate system in a number of ways. These include absorbing excess heat from the atmosphere and absorbing 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity. But our marine ecosystems are coming under increasing pressure due to climate change.

The Marine Institute, with its national and international partners, works to observe and understand how our ocean is changing and analyses, models and projects the impacts of our changing oceans. Advice and forecasting projections of our changing oceans and climate are essential to create effective policies and management decisions to safeguard our ocean.

Dr Paul Connolly, CEO of the Marine Institute, said, “Our ocean is fundamental to life on earth and affects so many facets of our everyday activities. One of the greatest challenges we face as a society is that of our changing climate. The strong international collaborations that the Marine Institute has built up over decades facilitates a shared focusing on our changing ocean climate and developing new and enhanced ways of monitoring it and tracking changes over time.

“Our knowledge and services help us to observe these patterns of change and identify the steps to safeguard our marine ecosystems for future generations.”

The Marine Institute’s annual ocean climate research survey, which has been running since 2004, facilitates long term monitoring of the deep water environment to the west of Ireland. This repeat survey, which takes place on board RV Celtic Explorer, enables scientists to establish baseline oceanic conditions in Irish waters that can be used as a benchmark for future changes.

Scientists collect data on temperature, salinity, water currents, oxygen and carbon dioxide in the Atlantic Ocean. This high quality oceanographic data contributes to the Atlantic Ocean Observing System. Physical oceanographic data from the survey is submitted to the International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) and, in addition, the survey contributes to national research such as the VOCAB ocean acidification and biogeochemistry project, the ‘Clean Atlantic’ project on marine litter and the A4 marine climate change project.

Dr Caroline Cusack, who co-ordinates scientific activities on board the RV Celtic Explorer for the annual survey, said, “The generation of long-term series to monitor ocean climate is vital to allow us understand the likely impact of future changes in ocean climate on ecosystems and other marine resources.”

Other activities during the survey in 2019 included the deployment of oceanographic gliders, two Argo floats (Ireland’s contribution to EuroArgo) and four surface drifters (Interreg Atlantic Area Clean Atlantic project). The new Argo floats have the capacity to measure dissolved ocean and biogeochemical parameters from the ocean surface down to a depth of 2,000 metres continuously for up to four years, providing important information as to the health of our oceans.

During the 2019 survey, the RV Celtic Explorer retrieved a string of oceanographic sensors from the deep ocean at an adjacent subsurface moored station and deployed a replacement M6 weather buoy, as part of the Irish Marine Data Buoy Observation Network (IMDBON).

Funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the IMDBON is managed by the Marine Institute in collaboration with Met Éireann and is designed to improve weather forecasts and safety at sea around Ireland. The data buoys have instruments which collect weather and ocean data including wind speed and direction, pressure, air and sea surface temperature and wave statistics. This data provides vital information for weather forecasts, shipping bulletins, gale and swell warnings as well as data for general public information and research.

“It is only in the last 20 years, meteorologists and climatologists have really began to understood the pivotal role the ocean plays in determining our climate and weather,” said Evelyn Cusack, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann. “The real-time information provided by the Irish data buoy network is particularly important for our mariners and rescue services. The M6 data buoy in the Atlantic provides vital information on swell waves generated by Atlantic storms. Even though the weather and winds may be calm around our shores, there could be some very high swells coming in from Atlantic storms.”