#Decommissioning - Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr Paul Kehoe, yesterday attended the decommissioning ceremony of LÉ Aisling in Galway Docks.
LÉ Aisling was the longest serving vessel in the Irish Naval Service fleet. The ‘Deirdre’ class vessel built by Verolme Cork Dockyard was also an improved version as the final third ‘Emer’ class. She entered service in 1980.
The decommissioning ceremony took place of LÉ Aisling alongside Molvoy Quay at the port's Dun Aengus Dock. The direct successor will be newbuild OPV90 class LÉ William Butler Yeats which is to undergo builder’s trials next month.
Also previously reported on Afloat.ie the Government has placed an order for a fourth OPV90 'Beckett' class costing €54.3m from Babcock International’s north Devon yard.
In his address Minister Kehoe stated that: LÉ Aisling has been decommissioned after 36 years of outstanding service to the State and noted that during this time she travelled in excess of 628,000 nautical miles, an equivalent of circumnavigating the globe 32 times. Her crew has boarded over 5,500 vessels at sea and detained over 220 fishing vessels.
The Minister recalled that during her service, LÉ Aisling has been involved in many successful operations. The most notable of these include the arrest of the ‘Marita Ann’ in 1984 and her activities as the first vessel on the scene of the Air India disaster in 1985, for which several of her crew were decorated.
The Minister also stated: In pursuit of our commitment to progress the Ships Replacement Programme, the Government has provided a significant increase in capital funding to enhance the capabilities across the Defence Forces. The replacement vessel for LÉ Aisling, LÉ William Butler Yeats is scheduled for delivery shortly and the signing of contracts this week for delivery of a fourth vessel (see above), represent tangible demonstrations of this commitment.
LÉ Aisling is twinned with Galway and has had a long association with the city. The minister also praised the men and women who sailed on LÉ Aisling throughout her years of service, and marked out the great pride they had shown in her close association with the city and the many thousands of euro raised by them on behalf of the Children’s Ward in Galway University Hospital.