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UK's Royal Navy Mersey Visits Liffey Prior to 'Brexit' Contingency Role

14th February 2019
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Winds of change? Beaufort, a tug of Dublin Port Company and astern the UK's Royal Navy 'River' class OPV HMS Mersey and Liverpool serving ropax ferry, Norbank of P&O Ferries. In addition Irish Ferries newbuild cruiseferry W.B. Yeats going astern prior to heading to Holyhead, Wales. Winds of change? Beaufort, a tug of Dublin Port Company and astern the UK's Royal Navy 'River' class OPV HMS Mersey and Liverpool serving ropax ferry, Norbank of P&O Ferries. In addition Irish Ferries newbuild cruiseferry W.B. Yeats going astern prior to heading to Holyhead, Wales. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

#navalvisitors - A UK Royal Navy vessel deployed to patrol the Strait of Dover, due to the rise in recent months of migrants trafficked on boats from France, is currently visiting Dublin Port, writes Jehan Ashmore.

On Tuesday, HMS Mersey arrived to berth next to the Tom Clarke (East-Link) toll-lift bridge. The call to the capital of the Batch 1 River Class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) is for crew rest and recreation. The newest of the orginal River class OPV's will not be open to public tours.

HMS Mersey had sailed from Portsmouth, where it is stationed in the RN's main base, however last month the UK Home Office requested the Ministry of Defence to use the vessel to assist the UK Border Force. The OPV is only one of two available to the Royal Navy, the other, HMS Tyne also sailed from Portsmouth last month to conduct routine fishery protection and patrols within UK waters.

During the media coverage of migrants, Afloat noted a UK Border Force patrol cutter featured in footage when docked in both Folkstone and at the Port of Ramsgate. The east Kent port, is very much the focus of the current ferry farce surrounding the British Government contract to award Seaborne Freight £13.8m to run a service to Belgium in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Brexit Contingency Funds role for OPV's 

As part of the UK Government's Brexit contingency funds, according to Ships Monthly, £12.7m will enable the RN to increase its border security capability. This will see an increase in patrols from 200 to 600 days annually.

The funding follows the Defence Secretary decision to retain three Batch 1 OPV's. Prior to the announcement sisters of HMS Mersey, the Severn and Tyne had already been decommissioned, however they will be reactivated for a period of at least two years.

In addition arising from the Brexit contingency funding is notably the relocation of the River class from Portsmouth to each of the sisters namesake rivers. HMS Mersey is to be based in Liverpool, the Severn heads to Cardiff while the Tyne goes to Newcastle.

Another River class sister, HMS Clyde patrols waters off the Falkland Islands and operates in the South Atlantic Ocean. There are rumours this sister is to began a new career with the Brazilian Navy. 

 

 

Published in Naval Visits
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

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. 

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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