#NavalService - Following the Budget, Defence spending increases to €946m next year, this will include plans to replace Naval Service flagship LÉ Eithne with a new MRV, in the meantime the ageing ship opens to the public in Dun Laoghaire Harbour this Saturday, writes Jehan Ashmore.
LÉ Eithne, a unique Irish built vessel, dating to 1984, Afloat will have more to highlight as to why and on the replacement newbuild Multi Role Vessel. The use of a MRV will enchance certain capabilities that so far have alluded the Naval Service, notably in assisting UN mandated overseas missions. In addition to the EU's Operation Sophia where the Naval Service is also tasked in the humanitarian mission in the Meditterrean Sea and where LE. James Joyce is currently deployed.
As for the opening of LÉ Eithne this Saturday, the crew will provide guided public tours to take place between 10 am – 12 pm and in the afternoon between 2 pm – 4 pm. The flagship twinned with the harbour town, will berth at St. Micheals Pier (No 4 berth). This is located behind the Harbour Plaza, next to the former ferry terminal (for Holyhead) at the end of Marine Road.
Officially, LÉ Eithne is desigated as a helicopter patrol vessel (HPV), though the use of the ship's design for French built 'Dauphine' helicopters were rarely used and took place early in the career of the 1,900 tonnes flagship. The tour will include the large aft-deck where the use of helicopters took place next to the aircraft hanger. At the bow is mounted the main arnament, a Bofors 57mm Canon.
Afloat, adds the size of the fleet at 9 ships is the largest ever in the history of the Naval Service since foundation in 1946. The naval headquarters located on Haulbowling Island in Cork Harbour, is where LÉ Eithne was scheduled for a routine self-maintenance (see related story RMS Leinster, Dun Laoghaire) This is where the State's official RMS Leinster centenary commemorative ceremony that took place earlier this month.
On the following day of the RMS Leinster ceremony, the delivery from Babcock Marine in the UK of the €67m newbuild OPV90/P60 class LÉ George Bernard Shaw took place in Cork Harbour. This OPV is included in the fleet total, though the vessel has yet to be officially named and commissioned into service.
In recent years, LÉ Eithne as alluded above was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea under Operation Sophia tasked in the rescue mission of migrant / refugees.
Such challenging and also rewarding work given the circumstance faced of the flagship crew and fleetmates so far deployed, were recognised through a Civic Honour, the 'Freedom of Entry' which was bestowed by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council on behalf of Irish citizens and the EU.
The Freedom of Entry ceremony was held last year at the aforementioned Harbour Plaza located between the harbour and DLRCoCo's Town Hall on Marine Road.