#Navy2015- The humanitarian crisis that unfolded earlier this year, led to three Irish Naval Service ships deployed under 'Operation Pontus' to the Mediterranean supporting the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre with Search and Rescue assistance.
The total number rescued in 2015 by the men and women of Óglaigh na nÉireann was 8,631, sadly 39 bodies were also recovered. The Naval Service, on behalf of the Defence Forces, received the People of the Year Award for the mission in the Mediterranean in 2015.
Domestically, provisional figures indicate that the Naval Service has completed 1076 boardings and made 10 detentions so far in 2015 for alleged infringements of fishing regulations during their 1205 patrol days.
The Naval Service patrols 220 million maritime acres of sea (over twelve times the land mass of Ireland) representing 15% of Europe’s fisheries. Fishing vessels from Ireland, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Belgium and Denmark were boarded and inspected in 2015.
Specialist Dive Team Operations
The Specialist Naval Service Dive Team was deployed to 43 operations so far this year. Military Operations include underwater maintenance of Naval Service Fleet, sub-surface explosive ordnance disposal operations and berth clearances for visiting foreign warships.
The Naval Service Dive Team has been involved in 9 separate Search and Recovery operations following requests from the Coast Guard and An Garda Síochána, many of these operations lasting several days. The remains of six (6) individuals have been recovered in the process of these searches this year and returned to their loved ones.
They have also carried out four (4) searches on behalf of Customs & Excise, searching the hulls of suspect vessels entering our ports and conducted security/ berth clearance dives for visiting naval ships. This year the Naval Service Diving Section assisted with the annual conference for IDSA (International Diving Schools Association), which qualifies Naval Divers commercially in SCUBA and Surface Supplied Diving Equipment (SSDE).
Training Education and Innovation
The exchange programme with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) continued where RCN Officers embark on Naval Service vessels, honing their seamanship skills, primarily in the area of coastal navigation.
This mutual exchange programme has seen Irish Naval Officers undergo Fleet Navigation and Mine Clearance Diving Officer courses in Canada during 2015.
Training support was provided to the Maritime Squadron from Malta in preparation for the successful handover / takeover of the (former) Irish Naval Service vessel the LÉ Aoife (P22).
This training support will continue into 2016. As per the UK/Irl Bilateral Agreement on Defence Cooperation (signed in Jan 2015), training exchange initiatives were undertaken with the UK Royal Navy to increase inter-operability and these will continue in 2016.
Educational initiatives during 2015 focused on meeting the requirements of our new ship technologies and on bringing leading edge research at the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) into the classroom.
The ‘Aeolus 1’ and ‘Aeolus 11’ research projects focusing on the use of kite technology at sea continue to progress in cooperation with the Halpin Research Institute, NIMBUS centre and IMERC (Irish Maritime Energy and Resource Cluster) partners.
Harnessing our Ocean Wealth (HOOW) ‘Seafest’ was hosted in July in collaboration with the Marine Institute and CIT and this also included the opening of the UCC Beaufort Centre in Ringaskiddy. HOOW encompassed more than 150 maritime industrial, commercial, academic and research partner’s interacting to promote national and international maritime development for Ireland. An estimated 8,500 members of the public also attended the event. The Beaufort Centre incorporates the largest seawater test tanks in Europe and houses over 120 top-level maritime energy researchers.
The Naval Service, as a partner in IMERC, was pleased to note the opening in 2015 of the EntrepreneurShip, a business incubation hub in IMERC, designed to support and spin-out/ spin –in business enterprises related to the research and maritime innovation with which the NS is involved.