#Navy - The latest Irish Naval Service newbuild, LÉ George Bernard Shaw was floated-out for the first time from a UK shipyard, writes Jehan Ashmore.
LÉ George Bernard Shaw costing €67m, is the fourth of the offshore patrol vessel (OPV90 / 'Samuel Beckett') class sisters to be built by Babcock Marine & Technology shipyard in Appledore, north Devon. The shipyard group which has several facilities throughout the UK won the contract to build the vessel last year.
The OPV was towed by the stern from the building hall in Bidna on the Torridge Estuary near Bideford. The operation which took place last Friday involved the 90 metre newbuild to be towed to the yard's fitting-out quay which was completed as daylight appeared.
Following sea trials the 2,256 tonnes LÉ George Bernard Shaw which will have a crew of 44, is due to be handed over to the INS later this summer.
The Naval Base on Haubowline Island in lower Cork Harbour is where LÉ George Bernard Shaw will join fleetmates, among them LÉ William Butler Yeats. This is the last sister completed by Babcock and Afloat has drone footage capturing the carefull berthing of the OPV at her homeport with the aid of a tug.
A pennant number of (P64) adorns the bows of the sleek looking LÉ George Bernard Shaw which was named in honour of the Irish playright at a keel-laying ceremony last year.
The newbuild follows sisters all named after fellow literary giants: the leadship LÉ Samuel Beckett delivered in 2014, LÉ James Joyce in 2015 and the last to enter service the aforementioned LÉ William Butler Yeats which was commissioned in 2016.
The new patrol vessel will have a comprehensive command, control and communications package along with a main weapon of a bow-mounted 76mm gun. At the time of the float-out this armament had yet to be fitted in addition the mainmast (lying on the fit-out quayside) had yet to be installed.
As for speed the twin-screw OPV will reach 23 knots and a 6,000 miles range is based on a cruising speed of 15 knots. Accommodation for the 44 crew will also cater for an additional 10 trainee berths.
A suite of three rigid inflatable boats on board will serve a variety of tasks for the LÉ George Bernard Shaw which will be able to act as a mother ship.
When LÉ George Bernard Shaw is commissioned into service, the OPV will become the sixth OPV built ship for the current INS fleet. The introduction of the 'Playrights' is part of a vessel replacement /modernisation programme that has seen all of the ageing 'Emer' class OPV's disposed in recent years.
The rest of the fleet comprises of a pair OPV80 class offshore patrol vessels, two coastal patrol vessels and a single helicopter patrol vessel.