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French Navy's Quiet Visit As Attention Focused On NATO Flotilla

6th April 2016
French Navy trainee vessels, Tigre and Jaguar alongside St.Micheal's Pier, Dun Laoghaire French Navy trainee vessels, Tigre and Jaguar alongside St.Micheal's Pier, Dun Laoghaire Photo: DLHC

#FrenchNavy - A pair of French Navy trainee vessels visited Dun Laoghaire Harbour while all the attention focused on the NATO flotilla to neighbouring Dublin Port last weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.

It was a busy scene as hundreds of visitors flocked to the NATO six-strong flotilla on the Liffey beside the East-Link Bridge. In stark contrast across the bay in Dun Laoghaire, French Navy vessels Tigre and Jaguar were berthed without the attention that a NATO call can draw, largely due to media coverage.

Senior French naval ratings were welcomed from the two Leopard class vessels at a reception held in the Harbour Lodge of the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company.

Each of the 335 tonnes vessels docked at berth No. 3 along St. Micheal’s Pier where the ‘former’ ferry terminal is available to let as previously reported on Afloat.

At this berth is also located the harbour’s only suitable ferry berth linkspan (see photo). The facility is to the left of the naval vessels but cannot be seen in the above photo.

On the adjacent side of St. Michaels Pier, is berth No. 4, where a linkspan (now redundent) was custom-built to handle the specialist berthing requirements of the HSS Stena Explorer. The fast-ferry was withdrawn from the Holyhead route following Stena’s closure of the service in 2014.

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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