#navy - Irish Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne is due to arrive back in Cork Harbour this weekend while a fleetmate is already in the Mediterranean to continue humanitarian duties by saving lives at sea, writes Jehan Ashmore
LÉ Eithne is due to enter Cork Harbour on Saturday and directly taking her place is LÉ William Butler Yeats which had departed Irish shores this day last week. The OPV90 vessel is the newest of three sisters out of overall an eight-strong fleet. The newcomer will relieve the crew of LÉ Eithne by continuing the mission to rescue refugees and migrants from overcrowded unseaworthy craft and barges.
The deployment of LÉ William Butler Yeats to the Mediterranean off the Afican coast will be under the current Operation Pontus. The OPV90 class vessel had made a rendezvous with LÉ Eithne on Monday this week while east off Gibraltar. The hand-over of naval vessels will see duties continued to be carried out off the coast of Libya.
In mid-July the Dáil had sanctioned the Defence Forces to join Operation Sophia, which became the Naval Service’s first ever multi-national naval mission. The operation forms part of a wider EU operation in which measures are designed to be more active in efforts to prevent people smugglers before migrants are put out to sea on dangerous boats.
For over the past three years the role of search and rescue (SAR) operations carried out by the Naval Service in the Mediterranean had totalled in rescuing more than 16,800 migrants.
Commenting on this achievement and the decision to join Operation Sophia, the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe, T.D commented “The Government is extremely proud of the manner in which the Naval Service has performed its role in the Mediterranean.”