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Remedial and strengthening works to the steel piles and concrete deck are underway at the Spencer Jetty at the Haulbowline Naval Base in Cork Harbour.

As Afloat reported last October, the upgrade at the Haulbowline Naval Base includes the construction of a raised turning area/parking zone and access ramp to the jetty.

The project provides for an investment of some €1.4m (excl VAT) to provide for the berthage needs at Haulbowline.

The plan is to stabilise the currently unusable Jetty structure and protect the sea entrance to the Naval Service Dockyard and Basin. The upgraded facility will also provide the Naval Service with an additional short term berth.

The project is part of the Plan to increase berthing capacity for the current fleet in three distinct standalone infrastructural projects, with the Spencer Jetty Upgrade delivered as Phase 1. All of these projects are included in the 5-year Infrastructure Development Plan.

When announced in October 2020, it was expected construction would take one year to complete.

Published in Cork Harbour

The Naval Ship LE Samuel Beckett, with Minister for Defence Simon Coveney on board, sailed through Dublin Port and the Tom Clarke Bridge to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay today accompanied by an Air Corps flyover as part of the Naval Service’s 75-year anniversary celebrations.

The vessel berthed alongside the James Joyce, William Butler Yates & George Bernard Shaw vessels which arrived on Monday.

This week’s manoeuvres saw the fleet converge on the capital, first with a Guard of Honour for Defence Minister Simon Coveney in Dun Laoghaire Harbour this morning at 9.15 am.

At 10 am, the LÉ Samuel Beckett departed Dun Laoghaire for the River Liffey in Dublin under a gun salute from the Army’s 2 Brigade Artillery Regiment.

On arrival in the city, the vessel took a salute from sister ships of the P60 class at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, where there was also be an Air Corps helicopter fly-past.

The fleet is open to the public on Wednesday.

Naval Service 75 Year Anniversary Celebrations at Dublin Port. Photo Gallery by Shane O’Neill

Published in Navy

A Spanish registered fishing vessel has been detained by the Naval Service within Irish waters. 

The detention by the LÉ William Butler Yeats was in relation to "alleged breaches of fishing regulations", the Defence Forces press office said.

It did not give the position of the detention, other than stating it was "within the Irish exclusive economic zone". It said it would be escorted to port and handed over to the Garda.

This is the seventh vessel detained to date this year by the Naval Service, which conducts inspections at sea in line with a service level agreement with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

Earlier, this month a French registered fishing vessel was detained by the Naval Service off Mizen Head.

Published in Fishing
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A French registered fishing vessel has been detained by the Naval Service approximately 110 nautical miles south of Mizen Head.

The detention by LÉ William Butler Yeats was "in relation to alleged breaches of fishing regulations", the Defence Forces press office has said.

It said the vessel will be escorted to port, where on arrival it will be handed over to the Garda Síochána.

It is the sixth vessel detained by the Naval Service to date this year.

Published in Navy
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When Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett became head of our Defence Forces in September 2015, he was the first Navy officer to take the post.

The Mayo man, who learned to sail at Rosmoney and around Clew Bay’s islands, has served several times overseas with the UN and has a PhD in ocean governance. He is passionate about the sea and its potential, and about its future in an era of climate change. He has spoken in several recent issues about climate breakdown as our greatest threat, and climate justice as a major global issue.

Vice Admiral Mellett is due to retire in September, and will be succeeded by former Air Corps search and rescue pilot Major General Sean Clancy.

He spoke to Afloat about some of the issues he has dealt with – from the Defence Forces response to the Covid-19 pandemic to diversity and inclusion in the military.

LÉ James Joyce (P62) one of the Irish Navy's offshore patrol vesselsLÉ James Joyce (P62) one of the Irish Navy's offshore patrol vessels

“Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance,” he explains, emphasising the benefits to an organisation of diversity and “disruptive” thinking.

He also spoke about the ongoing issue of pay and retention within the Defence Forces.

“When I look at the quality and the loyalty and the dedication of our women and men within the Defence Forces, you could never pay them too much,” the outgoing chief of staff says.”They are extraordinary servants of the State...

Vice Admiral Mellett spoke about his future plans, and remembered how emotional he felt about looking in at the Mayo coast from the sea and not having a decent berth for a ship on his home coast.

The development of offshore renewable energy may be a gamechanger for west coast ports like Rossaveal and further north, he predicted.

I first asked him about that famous arrest at sea which he received a distinguished service medal for in 1994 – the capture the previous year of the drug-running ketch Brime.

Listen to Wavelengths HERE

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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The Naval Service, the maritime component of the Defence Forces with a support base and headquarters located in the Naval Base, Haulbowline, Co.Cork is seeking applications for a variety of roles in the service according to the latest adverts on public jobs.ie.

Applicants are required to fill engineering, chef, carpenter and electrical roles.

As Afloat reported recently, there has been a mass exodus of personnel from the Service.

The Service is now accepting applications for the positions where successful candidates – after full military and on the job training – become an integral part of the maintenance team providing technical support onboard a fleet of nine ships.

Applicants must be 18 years of age and under 27 years of age on the date of application.

Check out the jobs here

Published in Navy
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The fishing vessel Ellie Adhamh, the seven-person crew of which were evacuated by Coast Guard Helicopters on Saturday evening, has sunk in approximately 80m of water over two miles North of the Bull Rock, at the entrance to Kenmare Bay.

Valentia Coast Guard who coordinated the operation monitored the vessels situation overnight as it drifted in a northerly direction.

A local Tug hired by the owners was on scene all morning evaluating options to tow the vessel to a place of safety.

A second local Tug was also proceeding to the scene but it was evident from early morning that the vessels condition was deteriorating.

Sinking fast - The bow of the fishing vessel Ellie Adhamh seconds before the trawler sank in approximately 80m of water over two miles North of the Bull Rock, at the entrance to Kenmare BayThe bow of the fishing vessel Ellie Adhamh seconds before the trawler sank in approximately 80m of water over two miles North of the Bull Rock, at the entrance to Kenmare Bay. See vid below

A Coast Guard spokesperson expressed relief that there was no loss of life and acknowledged the professionalism of all who had been involved in the operation, as Afloat reported previously including Naval Service ship LE George Bernard Shaw, Castletownbere RNLI, Coast Guard Helicopter crews, owners and their representatives.

Published in Coastguard

“We’ll always give our best, treat every incident as if it is one of our own.... and try our utmost to get a missing family member back to their loved one.....”

The words of Lieut Stephen Stack, head of the Naval Service diving unit, speaking about what keeps his colleague “motivated and driven to succeed”.

Last year, Sub-Lieut Tahlia Britton from Rossnowlagh, Co Donegal, became the first female to qualify for the Naval Service diving unit. A former champion surfer, she studied podiatry at NUI Galway but always wanted to join the military.

Sub-Lieut Tahlia Britton enters the water from off a Navy RIB Sub-Lieut Tahlia Britton enters the water from off a Navy RIB Photo: Davy Jones/Óglaigh na hÉireann

She has described the mental and physical challenges of being a Navy diver in an interview recorded for RTÉ Seascapes, the full version of which is on a Wavelengths podcast this week (below).

Search and recovery is just one aspect of the work of Navy divers, which is, as Stack says “not glamorous...”

Navy divers in training at Haulbowline Photo: Davy Jones/Óglaigh na hÉireannNavy divers in training at Haulbowline Photo: Davy Jones/Óglaigh na hÉireann

One of the team’s recent challenging operations was the three-week-long search after the 12-metre steel-hulled boat, Alize, fishing out of Duncannon, Co Wexford, went down some 6½ miles off Hook Head, Co Wexford just over a year ago on January 4th, 2020.

A briefing before a diveA briefing for a dive team at Haulbowline Naval base Photo: Davy Jones/Óglaigh na hÉireann

Joe Sinnott (65) from Kilmore Quay was recovered off Duncannon by the Irish Coast Guard Waterford-based Rescue 117 helicopter.

The body of skipper Willie Whelan (41), recently married and from Fethard-on-Sea, was located by the Hook Sub Aqua Club, and it was taken from the wreck of the new vessel by the Naval Service diving team.

“It was in very deep water, it was very complex, the weather wasn’t great, “Lieut Stack said, describing it as technically the most challenging operation he had been involved in recently.

He has paid tribute to the Garda Water Unit and the voluntary search and recovery groups that the Navy divers also work with in their aid to civil power role.

You can hear a taste of the aptitude test which aspiring Navy divers have to undergo at the Naval Service base at Haulbowline, along with interviews with Stack and Britton – including what she might sing underwater - below

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Coincidence is amazing, even if it's hard to believe. This week I'm inclined to credibility after Foreign Affairs, and Defence Minister Simon Coveney espoused the importance of the Naval Reserve when announcing the Government decision to establish a Commission "to ensure that the Defence Forces are fit for purpose" and then hearing that the same Reserve had used the 'god of the sea' - Neptune - for a purpose never thought of in the maritime world – to please the American Navy and bring the game of basketball to Ireland!

Minister Coveney, himself a Cork Harbour man, emphasised the importance of the Reserve, which was formerly known as the Slua Muiri and had its own yacht, the Nancy Bet.

Nancy Bet in 1987Nancy Bet in 1987

I had just met another Corkman for my Maritime Ireland radio show, who told me that the Navy and the Slua had been used by the Irish government after the end of the Second World War to ease anti-Irish sentiment over Ireland's neutrality in that conflict, when the American Navy visited Cork Harbour.

A Slua Muiri photo at a Training Camp in Fort CamdenA Slua Muiri photo at a Training Camp in Fort Camden

"Recreational exchange with the visitors was arranged through their favourite game, basketball and the Navy was instructed to make sure it happened and to develop public interest. The Maritime Inscription of the time, then the Slua, was handed the task and they invoked the 'god of the sea' – Neptune – to make it all happen," said another Corkman, Jim O'Donoghue, who showed me the cover of the new history he has written of what became Ireland's leading basketball club, which shows Neptune in a pose no mariner would have expected – holding his trident in one hand and a basketball in the other.

It is a fascinating story and for those who would like to read more the book, 'Gods of the Lee,' is available at, Vibes & Scribes, Bandon and Carrigaline Book Stores and Amazon.

Nancy Bet in Crosshaven BoatyardNancy Bet in Crosshaven Boatyard

Listen to the Podcast below, a preview specially for Afloat readers, linking mariners, Naval forces and sport and leading me to make further checks about the Slua Muiri vessel, Nancy Bet, which was at Crosshaven Boatyard for many years before being removed to Arklow where I understand she now is. More about that anon.

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Spencer Jetty in Haulbowline Naval Base in Cork Harbour is to be upgraded to provide for the berthage requirements for the Naval Service fleet.

The Minister for Defence, Mr Simon Coveney T.D., has announced the funding consists of:

  • Remedial and strengthening works to the steel piles and concrete deck
  • Construction of a raised turning area/parking zone and access ramp to the Jetty
  • Upgrading of bollards, rails and ladders
  • Provision of new fendering

The Spencer Jetty Upgrade will stabilise the currently unusable Jetty structure and protect the sea entrance to the NS Dockyard and Basin. The upgraded facility will also provide the Naval Service with an additional short term berth.

Spencer Jetty is located at the Haulbowline Haulbowline's Spencer Jetty is located behind the Gas Carrier ship Photo: Bob Bateman

The project is part of the Plan to increase berthing capacity for the current fleet in three distinct standalone infrastructural projects, with the Spencer Jetty Upgrade delivered as Phase 1. All of these projects are included in the 5-year Infrastructure Development Plan.

Minister Coveney stated that the refurbishment and upgrading of the facility is being undertaken as part of the 5-year Infrastructure Development Plan which was announced earlier this year. Today’s announcement is part of a suite of investments we are making in our Defence Forces over the next 5 years, to ensure that our Defence Forces are enabled to contribute fully to their assigned roles.

Commencement of construction work on-site is planned for before the end of the year with the works expected to take one year to complete.

This project provides for an investment of some €1.4m (excl VAT) to provide for the berthage needs at Haulbowline.

Published in Navy
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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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