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Displaying items by tag: Libya

#NAVAL ANCHORAGE – A Royal Navy mine-hunter HMS Bangor (MI09) which took part in Libyan operations last year, anchored overnight in Dublin Bay during the north-easterly gale force winds, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Unlike the majority of vessels which anchor in the south of the bay, she unusually took anchorage north of the main shipping lane for Dublin Port by positioning off Sutton South on Howth Peninsula.

HMS Bangor is a Sandown class mine-hunter and she is due to continue her northbound passage through the Irish Sea to spend Easter at her affiliated namesake town on the shores of Belfast Lough.

Her last call to Bangor was to celebrate Armed Forces Day 2010 and also in that year she called to Dublin, click HERE for that report.

On this occasion she will tell of her role supporting NATO operations off the coast of Libya. During Operation Unified Protector, the mine-hunter's task involved 120 days of non-stop action by scouring miles of sea bed off Libya as the battle between rebels and Colonel Gaddafi raged.

Built in 1999 by Vosper Thorneycroft, Southampton, the glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) ship and her 34 crew undertook the painstaking work. This paid off when the 55m vessel found a 2,400-pound (1000kg) mine and a torpedo lying on the seabed off the port of Tobruk in eastern Libya.

Both were safely destroyed using the ship's Sea Fox system – an underwater drone armed with explosive charges.

HMS Bangor is among seven of her class based at on the Clyde, Scotland. They each displace 600 tonnes and have a range of 2,500 nautical miles. For further details about the class, click HERE.

Published in Navy
A courtesy call to Dublin of a German Navy task force group over the St. Patrick's weekend has been cancelled due to humanitarian relief operations off Libya, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The task force comprising of two frigates FGS Brandenburg (F 215) and FGS Rheinland-Pfalz (F 209) and an auxiliary oil tanker FGS Berlin (A 1411) were due to dock at the port in the early hours of next Friday.

All three visiting vessels were to be made open to the public over the weekend while berthed alongside the Deep Water (Coal) Quay downriver of the East-Link Toll-Lift road bridge.

FGS Brandenburg is the leadship of the Type-123 'Brandenburg' class. For a photo of the 4,900 tonnes frigate arriving in the Grand Harbour in Valleta, the capital of Malta (in 2004) click here.

The 20,240 displacement tonnes FGS Berlin is also the leadship of her namesake class of auxiliary fuel replenishment/stores-ship. The 174-metre long Berlin class ship (see photo) also has the capability to convey containers. The last of the trio, FGS Rheinland-Pfalz (photo) is a Bremen class frigate of 3,680 tonnes.

Since the Libyan crisis started in late February, the Maltese capital has been frequently used as a strategic transitional hub-port for naval vessels, including several calls by the UK's Type 22 frigate HMS Cumberland (F85). Earlier this month the Type 42 destroyer HMS York (D98) was also conducted to assist fleeing UK and foreign nationals from Benghazi.

In addition to other navies, Valletta has been used by ferries chartered by governments to assist in the evacuation of thousands of fleeing foreigners, mostly from Europe, though many other emigrants from Africa and Asia remain stranded.

Published in Ports & Shipping

The Royal Naval frigate HMS Cumberland (F85) departed Malta today, to conduct a second evacuation mission of stranded nationals in Libya. In the early hours of this morning, HMS Cumberland had arrived into the Grand Harbour, Valetta, Malta with 207 stranded people, after departing the port of  Benghazi on Thursday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Onboard the 5,300 displacement vessel (see photo) were 68 British nationals and 138 passengers from other nations who were rescued after the frigate docked at Benghazi, the second city of Libya. During the turmoil, 12 Irish citizens also managed to escape by boarding one of two vessels involved in assisting foreign nationals at the port which included HMS Cumberland.

According to the Commanding Officer, Captain Steve Dainton, said: "The ship's company have responded magnificently. Ten days ago we were off the coast of Somalia conducting counter-piracy operations. I think it gives an indication of the flexibility and the versatility of a British warship and indeed of the ship's company onboard."

Following the first evacuation, HMS York was expected to arrive in the vicinity of the Libyan coast, should further assistance be required by HMS Cumberland. To read on the latest developments click here and this link too.

In addition the US authorities had chartered a fast-ferry catamaran to bring back stranded US nationals and other nationalities from Tripoli, the capital of Libya. The fast-craft vessel arrived in Valetta last night.

As the crisis was unfolding in Libya, HMS Cumberland was returning to the UK via the Suez Canal after completing a four-month operation in the Gulf, where her duties included helping to protect Iraqi oil platforms. The installations account for nearly 90% of Iraq's national income.

A sistership of HMS Cumberland, the 1986 built frigate, HMS Chatham (F87) was the last Royal Naval visitor to call at Dublin in late November
(click here and for photo). 

At the time of HMS Chatham's visit to the capital, the 1988 built frigate had recently returned to UK waters, after also been engaged on anti-piracy duties, while off Somalia.

When HMS Cumberland has completed duties off Libya, the frigate, as originally planned is due to resume her voyage home to UK waters. The British Ministry of Defence are to decommission the 23-year old vessel.

Both frigates are 'Broadsword' Type 22 Frigates (Batch 3) along with HMS Campeltown (F99) HMS Cornwall (F86). All four frigates were launched during the mid 1980's and have a crew of 250-sailors.

Published in Ports & Shipping

I am reflecting this week on a varied list of maritime issues which have arisen in my writings on marine topics.

Following recent pieces I wrote about the attitude of political parties in the General Election towards the marine sector, I had a telephone call from a senior Fine Gael politician and, lo and behold, the party included the marine sector in its manifesto, pledging to restore the Department of the Marine, abolished by Fianna Fail. I await post-election developments with interest.

It has been a good week for those interested in protection of whales and dolphins. Hundreds of dolphins were spotted off the Old Head of Kinsale, apparently following shoals of herring and sprat on which they were feeding.

In the Antarctic the Japanese whaling fleet was forced to give in to pressure to stop culling. The Japanese have killed hundreds of whales every year, claiming this was for "scientific purposes," even though it has been identified worldwide as for human consumption. The fleet was ordered home by its Government after increasing international pressure.

The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group published its annual report this week. It was formed in December 1990, dedicated to the "conservation and better understanding" of cetaceans - whales, dolphins and porpoise - in Irish waters through "study, education and interpretation." IWDG turnover in 2010 was around €300,000. It has dealt with up to 10,000 queries a month for information on its website. A total of 92 strandings of 128 individual cetaceans was reported to the IWDG in 2010. This compares to 137 strandings of 169 animals for 2009.

This week oil prices rose because of the unrest in Libya and David Surplus, Chairman of B9 Energy Britain's largest windfarm operator, warned that sooner or later oil will run out. BP is examining the possibility of building a fleet of carbon-neutral, wind-powered sail ships planned, to carry world trade.

On the international sailing scene the new AC 45, forerunner of the next generation of America's Cup boats was launched in New Zealand and had its first capsize. The wing-sailed catamaran is designed for speed and close racing, capable of making up to 30 knots, while intended to be handled in tight, tactical courses. An exciting boat to sail, it will also be very testing of ability. The first capsize of the new boat occurred on Auckland's Hauraki Gulf, hit by what was described as "a freak gust of wind," while the crew were doing maintenance on board before a sailing test.

FIRST_CAPSIZE_OF_ADMIRALS_CUP_45

Back in dock after the capsize

It capsized fully, ending upside down. Three support vessels were needed to pick up the crew and right the boat which was sailed back to its base in Auckland. There was damage to the wing sail, but no injuries to the crew. However, helmets may be an additional precaution needed for sailing these boats, which are to be used in the AC World Series! This will be a circuit of eight regattas for which venue bids are being made at present, with fleet and match racing, to raise the profile of high-performance sailing on worldwide television. Racing is to start in July, with regattas running until May of next year, leading into preparations for the next full AC series in the bigger AC72 catamarans in 2013 in San Francisco.

As the past week showed, there is always something interesting in the sea.

This article is reprinted by permission of the EVENING ECHO newspaper, Cork, where Tom MacSweeney writes maritime columns twice weekly. Evening Echo website: www.eecho.ie

Published in Island Nation

Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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