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NATO Naval Minehunter Flotilla Dock in Dublin Port

1st April 2016
Commandship of a NATO flotilla docked in Dublin Port is the German Navy auxiliary FGS Donau Commandship of a NATO flotilla docked in Dublin Port is the German Navy auxiliary FGS Donau Photo: Presse- und Informationszentrum Marine

#NATOdublin - In this historic week of the Easter Monday 1916 Rising Centenary and backdrop of World War I, a flotilla of NATO vessels among them from the UK and Germany docked in Dublin Port this morning, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (in which Ireland is not a member) naval exercise group is on a four-day visit to the capital.

Of the six-strong Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 1, the UK is represented by the Royal Navy Sandown-class minehunter HMS Ramsey, usually based in Faslane.

Earlier this year the minehunter transited the 98-kilometre Kiel canal. It was at Kiel that the sailors attended a ceremony which saw the German Navy and Commander Martin Schwarz of flagship FGS Donau take charge of the minehunter group – one of two operated by NATO in European waters. 

FGS Donau is an 'Elbe' class auxiliary and supplies vessel which led the NATO fleet into Dublin Bay last night to anchor. The 3,500dwt tonnes replenishment vessel was joined by fleetmate minehunter FGS Dillingen.

According to ‘The Sea and The Easter Rising’ by the late Dr. John de Courcy Ireland, it was during 1914 that the Germans captured the Norwegian owned, Wilson Liner freighter Castro. The cargoship was converted into a naval auxiliary cruiser as the S.M.S. Libau (pseudo S.S. Aud) for her arms shipment role from Lubeck to its scuttling off the Daunt Rock.

The other NATO navies vessels are Vlaardingen (Netherlands) Primula (Belgium) and Otra from Norway. They are also berthed in Dublin Port with their German counterparts near the East Link Bridge at the North Quay Wall Extension.

It is the task of NATO fleet to practise minehunting collectively so they can respond to any crisis as well as to conduct exercises dealing with historic ordnance such as bombs, unexploded torpedoes, shells and mines from the two World Wars.

The Mine warfare operations of NATO’s Alliance Strategy is to provide a crucial contribution to each and to take an integral and vital role in all maritime and joint operations.

Published in Naval Visits
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Naval Visits focuses on forthcoming courtesy visits by foreign navies from our nearest neighbours, to navies from European Union and perhaps even those navies from far-flung distant shores.

In covering these Naval Visits, the range of nationality arising from these vessels can also be broad in terms of the variety of ships docking in our ports.

The list of naval ship types is long and they perform many tasks. These naval ships can include coastal patrol vessels, mine-sweepers, mine-hunters, frigates, destroyers, amphibious dock-landing vessels, helicopter-carriers, submarine support ships and the rarer sighting of submarines.

When Naval Visits are made, it is those that are open to the public to come on board, provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate up close and personal, what these look like and what they can do and a chance to discuss with the crew.

It can make even more interesting for visitors when a flotilla arrives, particularly comprising an international fleet, adding to the sense of curiosity and adding a greater mix to the type of vessels boarded.

All of this makes Naval Visits a fascinating and intriguing insight into the role of navies from abroad, as they spend time in our ports, mostly for a weekend-long call, having completed exercises at sea.

These naval exercises can involve joint co-operation between other naval fleets off Ireland, in the approaches of the Atlantic, and way offshore of the coasts of western European countries.

In certain circumstances, Naval Visits involve vessels which are making repositioning voyages over long distances between continents, having completed a tour of duty in zones of conflict.

Joint naval fleet exercises bring an increased integration of navies within Europe and beyond. These exercises improve greater co-operation at EU level but also internationally, not just on a political front, but these exercises enable shared training skills in carrying out naval skills and also knowledge.

Naval Visits are also reciprocal, in that the Irish Naval Service, has over the decades, visited major gatherings overseas, while also carrying out specific operations on many fronts.

Ireland can, therefore, be represented through these ships that also act as floating ambassadorial platforms, supporting our national interests.

These interests are not exclusively political in terms of foreign policy, through humanitarian commitments, but are also to assist existing trade and tourism links and also develop further.

Equally important is our relationship with the Irish diaspora, and to share this sense of identity with the rest of the World.

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