#LEsamuelBeckett – L.E. Samuel Beckett (P61) the first of a pair of OPV 90m class newbuilds, each costing €49m, arrived into Cork Harbour this morning, marking a momentous chapter in the history of the Irish Naval Service, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The 90m vessel of almost 2,000 tonnes sailed overnight from Babcock Marine's Appledore shipyard in north Devon, a distance of approximately 145 nautical miles.
However that distance actually refers to her first sight of the Irish coast off Ballycotton, where the east-Cork coastal community last weekend welcomed their very own with the return of the former lifeboat, the RNLB Mary Stanford of Daunt Lightship rescue fame.
L.E. Samuel Beckett, an enhanced 'Roisin' class OPV 80m offshore patrol vessel then made the short coastal passage to round Roches Point Lighthouse, prior to completing her delivery voyage within the natural harbour.
She docked at the Naval Base on Haulbowline, at the foot of the naval headquarters control tower that overlooks the island which has a basin. The basin is not constrained to tides as it has no lock gate, can berth the fleet that has now been restored to the original eight-strong fleet.
Beforehand, the fleet which was one short following the decommissioning of L.E. Emer (P20) last September that took place in Cork city-centre quays marking the end of an era and also the future with her direct replacement.
The newbuild was built on the banks of the River Torridge, where her keel was laid down in May 2012 and two years later L.E. Samuel Beckett is to named at a ceremony on 17 May along Dublin's city-centre quays, close to the Samuel Beckett swing-bridge.
The same building hall at Bidna downriver of Bideford also built L.E. Roisin (P51) in 1999 and L.E. Niamh (P52) in 2001 respectively. Then the yard which was founded in 1855 was owned by Appledore Shipbuilders until it went into administration in 2003.
International global engineering group, Babcock through its marine division brought the yard, and is one of only a handful of facilities remaining in the UK that is capable of building naval ships.
L.E. Samuel Beckett is to have a crew of 54 and she is replacement of L.E. Emer, the oldest unit of the naval fleet, which was built in 1978 at Verolme Cork Dockyard (VCD).
The 'Emer' still remains at the same yard in Rushbrooke, though current owners Cork Drydock carry out repair and maintenance work.
Work on the vessel has taken place to adapt her for a new role as the former leadship 'Emer' class vessel was sold last year to Nigerian shipping interests Uniglobe.