#SpecialRelationships - A pair of ships directly associated with Dun Laoghaire Harbour and that are both currently docked in the port is not often an occurance, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The presence of these ships within the harbour arms is noted, given the absence of other regular large harbour callers, notably the former Stena HSS fastferry. The high-speed service craft, HSS Stena Explorer had served to and from Holyhead until final sailings ceased in recent years.
Before the identity of these ships are revealed, firstly there is the clear distinction to be made between when the last HSS Stena Explorer sailing took place and the decision by Stena Line to finally announce in confirming that the service would be withdrawn.
The final sailings carried out by the HSS Stena Explorer actually took place in September 2014. As for the decision not to return serving the historic Irish-Welsh ferry route, this was officially announced the following year in early 2015.
Efforts have since ebbed and flowed to restore the service, however since 2011 the increase in cruiseship trade has taken over as the port’s ‘bread and butter’ income. In addition the Dun Loaghaire Harbour Company has striven in recent years to source new revenue streams that are not exclusively maritime led but driven from land-based ventures.
Among them the use of venue hire events, that this summer saw the return of the ‘Beatyard’ music festival that used the disused St. Michaels Ferry Terminal. The vehicle marshalling grounds instead were transformed to hosts acts featuring 1980’s pop hit band ‘Bananarama’.
All things maritime were not lost on organisers, Bech & Bodytonic as they called on festival-goers to have dress attire that was in the mode of ‘Nautical Boogie’… whatever that resulted in!
So what are these ships currently berthed in the Dun Laoghaire Harbour? They are the Commissioners of Irish Lights vessel, ILV Granuaile which arrived on Sunday. As for the second ship, that been the Naval Service flagship and helicopter patrol vessel, HPV L.E. LÉ Eithne that followed into port albeit arriving yesterday.
In fact both vessels were among a multi-agency flotilla (and airborne craft) gathering that Afloat had reported having completed successful marine Search and Rescue (SAR) demonstrations. They took place at the weekend off Dunmore East.
The SAR exercises held off the Waterford coast gave the public to witness the roles engaged by all concerned having been co-ordinated by the Irish Coastguard.
Earlier this year notably marked the 200th anniversary of the beginning to construct the then Kingstown Harbour, when officially Dun Laoghaire Harbour Bicentenary ceremony celebrations began at the end of May. Only a coastal excursion vessel, St Bridget operates out of the harbour for Dublin Bay Cruises that links between the capital and Howth Harbour on the far side of the peninsula.
At the time of writing, St. Bridget had carried out her routine Dublin Port-Dun Laoghaire cruise leg this morning and was alongside the harbour's famous East Pier, prior to heading for Howth. In addition to these seasonal services DBC run evening cruises from the south Dublin Bay harbour through Dalkey Sound and into the likewise scenic splendour of Killiney Bay.
With both naval and navigational related ships berthed in port, they also have a direct relationship with the harbour. ILV Granuaile’s homeport is Dun Laoghaire where the aids to navigation authority has its HQ located in addition to a marine engineering depot. On occasions the vessel moors alongside the HQ's near to Traders Wharf, however today the ship is berthed at Carlisle Pier having vacated a berth at St. Micheals Wharf where the LÉ Eithne has occupied.
The flagship has its adopted homeport of the harbour town where earlier this year Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council awarded the ‘Freedom of Entry’ to the crew and the Irish Naval Service. This was to recognise the significant role played by Naval Service personnel in the task of humanitarian missions to rescue people in dire need from unseaworthy vessels and dangerous conditions in the Mediterranean Sea.