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The Irish Naval Vessel  LÉ James Joyce was positioned off Sandycove Point on Dublin Bay for over an hour today, close to the Martello Tower made famous by Irish writer James Joyce in his novel Ulysses.

The special Bloomsday tribute was made by the ship that was named after the author in 2015.

LE James Joyce departed Dún Laoghaire Harbour at 1430hrs and made its way across Scotsman's Bay where there were a number of shoreside Joycean gatherings being held.

Bloomsday celebrates Joyce's iconic Ulysses through performances, meals, readings, and dressing-up, especially at Sandycove.

As part of the celebrations, LÉ James Joyce flew "the oldest flag afloat, the flag of the province of Desmond & Thomond, three crowns on a blue field, the three sons of Milesius," as Joyce describes in Ulysses.

The Irish Naval Vessel  LÉ James Joyce (left) was positioned off Sandycove Point on Dublin Bay, close to the Martello Tower (right) on BloomsdayThe Irish Naval Vessel  LÉ James Joyce (left) was positioned off Sandycove Point on Dublin Bay, close to the Martello Tower (right) on Bloomsday.

The Napoleonic tower is where the author spent six nights in 1904. The opening scenes of his 1922 novel Ulysses take place there, and the building is a place of pilgrimage for Joyce enthusiasts, especially on Bloomsday.

Published in Dublin Bay

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the Irish Government has announced the purchase of two naval vessels from New Zealand.

The two inshore patrol vessels — formerly the HMNZS Rotoiti and HMNZS Pukaki — will bolster Ireland’s maritime security as the Naval Service continues its recruitment drive.

Announcing the deal today, Sunday 13 March, Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Simon Coveney said the purchase is part of plans to address “ongoing challenges” and regenerate the Naval Service.

“The investment of some €26 million in these two inshore patrol vessels will provide replacements for LÉ Orla and LÉ Ciara,” he added.

“These inshore patrol vessels have a lesser crewing requirement than the ships they replace, and will provide the Naval Service with an enhanced capacity to operate and undertake patrols in the Irish Sea on the East and South East Coast. This will allow the remaining fleet to focus on operations elsewhere.”

The minister said the two ships are expected to arrive in Ireland next year following works to restore them to Lloyd’s Classification.

He also reiterated that plans for the replacement of the flagship LÉ Eithne with a new multi-role vessel are under way “with consultants having been engaged with a view to initiating a tender competition in due course”.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Seán Clancy said: “The changing face of maritime security in the Irish Sea has highlighted a requirement for a specialist inshore capability in order to protect Irish interests.

“The procurement of these vessels strengthens the ability of the Naval Service to fulfil its role in protecting our national sovereignty and constitutes a strong vote of confidence in the Defence Forces by the minister and Government.”

Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, Commodore Michael Malone added: “The acquisition of the IPVs will allow the Naval Service to continue to modernise and tackle the dynamic and ever changing maritime environment that we operate in 365 days a year.”

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An exhibition about the Naval Service has opened at the Passage West Maritime Museum, recounting how the Cork Harbour village has been a strong provider of Navy personnel.

Intriguingly, it includes a detailed account of 21 years’ service by local man Jim McIntyre, who enlisted at the age of 15 in October 1956. Recalling the days of corvettes and minesweepers, bought from the Royal Navy, he recounts that “crews were scarce in those days.”

Naval Exhibition at Passage West MuseumNaval Exhibition at Passage West Museum

That challenge faces the Naval Service again today, pointed out at the opening of the exhibition which follows the Commission on the Defence Forces Review that highlighted the need to increase personnel and ships.

Jim Mcintyre in the Engine Room of L.E.Maev in 1964Jim Mcintyre in the Engine Room of L.E.Maev in 1964

The Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, Michael Malone, accepts that this is a challenging time for the Service. “But we have seen peaks and troughs over the years. People are slow to engage in joining the defence forces, but we will turn that corner. We will get the personnel we need. Seagoing is something you have to be dedicated to. We will get the personnel we need,” he told me in an interview at the Naval Base.

Podcast below

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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Ireland’s Naval Service fleet should be expanded to an "optimum capacity" of nine vessels as part of a radical overhaul for “enhanced capability”, the report of the Commission on the Defence Forces recommends.

The publication of the report was welcomed today (Wednesday 9 February) by Defence Minister Simon Coveney, who said it “poses serious questions that we as a society must carefully consider”.

Among its numerous recommendations, the report advocates for a level of ambition for the future of the Defence Forces that requires “accelerating the upgrade of the naval fleet and operating it to an optimum level through double crewing and greater use of technology” — with an attendant 50% increase in annual defence spending.

An accelerated programme of naval vessel replacement “to ensure a balanced fleet of nine modern ships by early in the next decade” would be required, it adds.

And building on this, a further level of ambition calls for the fleet to expand to 12 ships — “Tier 3-type OPVs” — in order to “provide the Naval Service with maritime capabilities for defending the State from a conventional military attack”.

Currently the Naval Service has a fleet of nine vessels of which only five are operational.

In addition, the report recommends that the Naval Service, along with the Air Corps, should become a service “on a par with the Army, contributing to a joint strategic command at Defence Forces Headquarters and Joint Force Command.

“Given the importance of service parity, the names of [the Air Corps and Naval Service] should change to the Air Force and the Navy respectively,” it says.

A new role of Chief of the Navy would be created, and this person would be "responsible for maintaining an enhanced national Recognised Maritime Picture (RMP) that will monitor Irish territorial waters and Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and any infringements on Irish sovereignty would be detected and responded to".

Minister Coveney said the hopes the report “will foster real debate about the defence that we need as a modern European country”, noting that its recommendations “are forthright and challenge the status quo”.

He added that given its “significant recommendations”, a four-month process “to allow for detailed consideration” will now commence, involving consultation across Government departments and input from stakeholders, before he presents a proposed response and “high-level action plan” to the Government.

The release of the report comes in the wake of recent controversy surrounding Russia’s plans to conduct live-fire military drills within the waters of Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

As former Defence Forces chief of staff Mark Mellett told Lorna Siggins on the Wavelengths podcast, the situation poses questions for the EU’s defence strategy as well as Ireland’s policy of neutrality.

Published in Navy

The Naval Service and Air Corps say they have observed north America, Russian and French vessels both inside and outside Ireland's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) over the past week.

These observations include two Russian warships within the Irish EEZ and a third warship believed to be a NATO vessel.

In footage captured between January 31st and February 3rd, the Defence Forces press office say they have also observed a British RAF combat aircraft south-east of and outside the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The international naval vessels are transmitting on the automatic identification system (AIS) and are outside Irish territorial waters – as in the 12- mile limit – the press office states.

Russian Vessel EKHOROVRussian Vessel EKHOROV

The Defence Forces press office says that this activity is “in line with UN Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS) rules for transit through international waters”.

French Navy 793French Navy 793

It says that under UNCLOS, there is “no restriction on warships operating on the high seas inside and outside of EEZs”.

US Navy 80US Navy 80

This point has been disputed this week by Prof Clive Symmons of Trinity College, Dublin, who is an international maritime law expert, and who says Ireland is within its rights to decline requests for military exercises within its EEZ.

However, military ships are allowed a right of freedom of passage under UNCLOS, he says.

RAF Eurofighter TyphoonRAF Eurofighter Typhoon

Images were taken by the Air Corps Casa maritime patrol aircraft “Charlie 252” include a number of US, Russian, French and UK warships south-east of and outside Irish EEZ during daylight hours between January 31st and February 3rd.

RAF Eurofighter Typhoon jets were observed in the vicinity of these ships, and the Naval Service patrol ship LE Samuel Beckett was in the area.

Russian vessel 055Russian vessel 055

During nighttime on the same dates, “Charlie 252” observed two Russian warships within Ireland’s EEZ, and a “third warship also in the vicinity which is believed to be a NATO vessel”.

Russian vessel 461Russian vessel 461

All footage and images were taken between 31 Jan - 03 Feb 2022.

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The Naval Service has acquired two state-of-the-art recompression units that could help save the lives of divers with ‘the bends’, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The larger of the two — at naval headquarters on Haulbowline in Cork Harbour — can hold as many as eight people at a time, while the smaller, one-person unit weighs only 250kg and can be taken out to sea to allow for much swifter treatment of decompression sickness.

More commonly known as the bends, decompression sickness afflicts divers who surface too quickly, such that the rapid decrease in pressure around them causes nitrogen bubbles to form in blood and tissue.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

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“We are mission ready and interoperable with international Navies at home and overseas,” the Naval Service, which celebrated its 75th year of foundation this year, says in the Defence Forces ‘Year in Review’ annual report issued today.

It records a ‘first’ for the Service this year: “In April the Naval Service achieved NATO accreditation by completing the OCC self-evaluation. This was a first for the Service.”

The Navy arrested nine fishing boats during the year in 269 inspections. Irish, British, French, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Belgian and boats from the Faroes were inspected.

The full Maritime section of the report describes Naval activities in detail:

75th Anniversary - The Naval Service celebrated 75 years from its foundation this year. Various events culminated in September with fleet exercises, a review by An Taoiseach and a parade of sail into Dublin and Cork. Naval vessels were escorted by the Air Corps and Irish Coastguard and were met in Cork by their colleagues in the emergency services.

Fisheries - So far this year, the Naval Service has conducted 269 fisheries boarding’s resulting in nine (9) detentions. The Naval Service patrols 220 million maritime acres of sea (over twelve times the land mass of Ireland) representing 15% of Europe’s fisheries. Fishing vessels from Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Belgium and The Faroes were boarded and inspected in 2021.

NSDS - The Naval Service Dive Section (NSDS) was deployed to 20 operations so far this year. Military Operations include underwater maintenance of the Naval Service Fleet, maintenance of Service Level Agreements with External Agencies, and berth surveys/clearances for visiting ships. The Naval Service Dive Section was involved in one (1) Search and Recovery operation following a request from the Coast Guard. One (1) deceased individual was recovered in the process of this search and returned to their loved ones.

Search and Rescue (SAR) - There have been eleven (11) separate SAR responses from the NS this year, a number of them attracting media attention.

Protests - During 2021 there were some civilian protests at Cork and Dublin sea ports. The Naval Service provided Rigid Inflatable Boats and personnel providing a safety role.

NATO Operational Capability Concept (OCC) - In April of this year the Naval service achieved NATO accreditation by completing the OCC self-evaluation. This was a first for the Naval Service and ensures we are mission ready and interoperable with international navies at home and overseas.

Naval Service Variant DPM - On the 1st of May Naval Service Personnel changed over from the GDR rig to our new Naval Service DPM uniform. This uniform was the result of years of research and combines breathability and comfort with increased fire and safety properties while promoting the Defence Forces brand.

L.E.P - L.É ROISIN completed her Life Extension Programme (LEP) in April bringing to a close a 25-month long project which ensures the continued availability of key Naval Assets. Following suit, L.É NIAMH has now entered her LEP which will continue into 2022.

MAOC-N Medal - In October Cdr Cathal Power was awarded the MAOC-N medal in recognition of the work by the Naval Service Operations and Intelligence Team in countering drug trafficking. The Naval Service in conjunction with our Joint Task Force colleagues were instrumental in providing intelligence that led to major seizures by MAOC-N partner agencies this year.

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Cove Sailing Club is looking forward to seeing a big turnout for this year’s Cobh to Blackrock Race on Saturday 4 September.

Starting from Cobh at 2pm and finishing at Blackrock Castle, the 2021 race is extra special as the club is helping the Naval Service commemorate its 75th anniversary.

Festivities on the day include a parade of sail from Cork Harbour up to the city quays, providing a fitting spectacle on the River Lee.

Last year’s class honours were claimed by Nieulargo, Don’t Dilly Dally and Prince of Tides, and all three boats have registered for this year’s race — see the list on the club website, where you can also find the Notice of Race for class bands and details (open to IRC, ECHO and Trad classes).

This event will run in accordance with COVID restrictions and prize-giving will take place either on the stern of a Navy vessel or the quay wall overlooking the city marina, with only winners invited to come and receive one of the many prizes sponsored by Union Chandlery.

There’s still time to register your intent to participate in the race HERE.

Published in Cove Sailing Club

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

The Naval Service is currently engaged in Fleet Exercise 75 (FLEX75) in advance of celebrating the 75th anniversary of its founding tomorrow, Wednesday 1 September.

To ensure they remain fully prepared to respond to maritime security-related incidents or seaborne threats, Ireland’s navy ships and personnel conduct regular scenario-based training exercises such as FLEX75.

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

On the bridge with a Dublin-bound Naval Service crew taking part in Fleet Exercise 75 | Credit: Irish Naval Service/FacebookOn the bridge with a Dublin-bound Naval Service crew taking part in Fleet Exercise 75 | Credit: Irish Naval Service/Facebook

Following this, at 10am, the LÉ Samuel Beckett will depart 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 (ETA 11.40am), the vessel will take a salute from sister ships of the P60 class at Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, where there will also be an Air Corps helicopter fly-past.

All are invited to “meet the fleet” as part of the celebrations and in line with national COVID guidelines. There will also be a recruitment stand to answer any questions about signing up for a new career in the Defence Forces.

Follow the Irish Naval Service social media channels and hashtag #IrishNavy75 for more throughout the week, including updated on events in Cork Harbour at the weekend.

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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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