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The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D, today attended a virtual meeting with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier in relation to the current state of play in the negotiations on a fisheries agreement with the UK. The meeting involved Fisheries Ministers from EU Member States most impacted by the UK withdrawal from the EU, including Ministers from France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Ministers welcomed Mr Barnier’s strong commitment to the link between the overall economic partnership and the conclusion of a fishing agreement. Minister McConalogue urged Mr Barnier to stay firm on this and not to agree to any short-term arrangement on fisheries which would serve to break this link.

Minister McConalogue again stressed that “Ireland’s fishing industry needs a strong and stable EU/UK Fisheries agreement. Our fishing industry is in a particularly vulnerable position as Ireland shares its main fish stocks and its waters on three sides with the UK and needs to retain access to UK waters and to shared resources.”

The Minister also emphasised that any outcome in the future relationship negotiations that results in a loss of quota share for the EU would be damaging to Ireland’s fishing industry. The Minister also stated that in the event of No Deal and EU vessels being denied access to UK waters Ireland could face serious difficulties arising from displacement of EU fishing activity into our zone.

Commenting afterwards on the meeting, Minister McConalogue said “I appreciated the opportunity again today to meet with Mr Barnier and outline again Ireland's serious concerns in relation to the potential impacts for Ireland’s fishing industry if a fair and balanced Fisheries Agreement with the UK is not reached. I have continued confidence that Irish and EU fishing interests will be robustly defended by Mr Barnier and his team in this late phase of negotiations.”

Published in Fishing
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Students from Norway and other countries are participating in a higher diploma in aquabusiness which is now in its fourth year in Wexford.

A total of 19 students have registered for the one-year part-time diploma in “business in aquabusiness” which is being run by Carlow Institute of Technology’s (CIT) Wexford campus.

As Afloat reported previously, the course was developed by CIT with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

It is the only Fetac level eight course aimed. at the fisheries, marine and aquaculture sector in Ireland.

Numbers have doubled as the course goes from “strength to strength”, according to the college.

Students of last year’s course recently participated in an online graduation ceremony due to Covid-19.

However, some of the fisheries sector graduates gathered in a socially distant manner for a photograph at Kilmore Quay harbour, along with three Wexford campus staff and a local representative of BIM.

The course presents two annual awards in memory of late Donegal fishing industry leader Joey Murrin, and the late BIM chief executive Brendan O’Kelly.

Presentation of these awards to the latest graduates has been deferred until the public health situation improves.

CIT’s Wexford campus says that the three remaining modules for the fourth year of the higher diploma will run online from January 2021.

These modules can be taken separately as certificates.

The law and regulation modules will be covered every second Friday and Saturday from mid-January, while strategic and innovation management will run from late February.

A module in planning will be covered from mid-April.

Interested students for these subjects as certificates can contact course Amy Allen at email address [email protected]

Published in Aquaculture
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Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue T.D., today chaired a meeting of the Sea Fisheries Liaison Group of Fisheries Stakeholders to discuss the European Commission’s proposal for Fishing Opportunities for 2021. The meeting was attended by fishing industry representative bodies and environmental NGOs.

This meeting is held each year in advance of the negotiations at the December EU Fisheries Council so that the Minister can hear the views of all fisheries stakeholders on the Commission’s proposals for Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas for the following year. This is an important part of the Sustainability Impact Assessment of the Commission’s proposal, which also includes a public consultation and as well as expert contributions from the Marine Institute (MI) and Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM).

Minister McConalogue said “There was the good engagement at the meeting today. This is an important opportunity for me to hear the views of stakeholders as we prepare for setting of Total Allowable Catches for Fish Stocks for 2021.”

The Minister added “The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty relating to the impacts of Brexit on Fisheries has made 2020 a challenging and unprecedented year for fisheries. In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever that we work together to achieve the best possible outcome for the Irish Fishing Community while ensuring the sustainability of fish stocks.”

Minister McConalogue will present the Sustainability Impact Assessment to the Joint Committee on Agriculture and the Marine on Tuesday 1 December.

Published in Fishing
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A well-intentioned campaign by a celebrity chef to reduce dumping of unwanted fish in European waters has led to an increase in fishing quotas, according to new research.

The “unintended impact” of the European ban on discarding fish may lead to “implosion of the EU fisheries management system”, Portuguese scientist Dr Lisa Borges, who formerly worked in Ireland’s Marine Institute, says.

The “Fish Fight” campaign spearheaded by chef and food writer Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall from 2010 was designed to eradicate a system which fishermen were forced to discard unwanted catch under the EU quota system.

It was claimed up to 1.7 (one point seven) million tonnes of unwanted and juvenile fish was being discarded annually.

The first phase of the EU’s ban on discards – known as the “landing obligation” - was introduced in January 2015.

However, the paper by Dr Borges for the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Journal, finds that there has been “no enforcement”, no decrease in discards, and an increase by up to 50 per cent in fish quotas to allow for implementation of the ban.

It notes that this “discrepancy” is “likely to lead to a widespread unmeasured increase in the number of fish killed each year”.

This “undermines the accuracy of scientific data”, Dr Borges, whose research was partly funded by the non-governmental organisation Our Fish and initially grant-aided under the EU Horizon 2020 programme, claims.

It will lead to what she describes as an "implosion of the EU fisheries management system”.

The discard ban requires that all caught fish are documented, counted against quotas, and landed, but there are four exemptions.

The exemptions cover species for which fishing is prohibited, fish damaged by predators, and species that have “high survival” rates after being caught.

Under a fourth exemption, known as “de minimis”, up to five per cent of the total annual catch can be discarded if deemed “very difficult” or “disproportionately” expensive to avoid catching.

Dr Borges says that even though these exemptions exist, all fish caught should still be documented.

She notes that another key condition was that TACs would be increased to account for the new landings of previously discarded fish.

She says that in a “complicated and non-transparent process”, the European Commission receives scientific advice for maximum catches from ICES, and then estimates exemptions and proposes adjusted TACs.

These adjustments have contributed to higher fishing limits, but she says that the number of granted exemptions to the European discard ban has increased, with some fisheries even gaining multiple exemptions.

An analysis of the TACs before and after the landing obligation was introduced shows that there is an average annual increase of 36% in TACs since 2015, and that this increase reached 50% in 2020 overall, above pre-landing obligation levels.

She found that for demersal (whitefish) fish species, which are often caught with less-selective gears and have a high proportion of unwanted fish, these TAC increases reached 60% for 2020 fishing limits.

Dr Borges has worked in fisheries for over 20 years, including for the research institutes of Portugal, Ireland and Netherlands, and for the European Commission, and is now director of consulting company FishFix.

Our Fish, which partly funded her research, says it works to end overfishing and restore a healthy ocean ecosystem.

The European Commission and Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine did not respond to requests for comment on the paper at the time of going to press.

Published in Fishing
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If Fungie or any similar solo bottle-nosed dolphin had a notion to settle in an Irish harbour, they could be in stiff competition for feeding on sprat and juvenile herring.

As The Irish Examiner reports today, there is mounting concern on certain parts of the coast over the environmental impact of a small number of larger Irish-registered fishing vessels working within the six nautical mile limit.

“If we are going to take the forage fish, what is left?” Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) co-ordinator Dr Simon Berrow says.

“Catching sprat, which is a short-lived fish, and selling it for fishmeal is a race to the very bottom of the food chain,” Dr Berrow says. 

His group has called for a moratorium on sprat fishing pending further scientific research. 

Independent TD for Galway West Catherine Connolly has also called for a ban on “unsustainable fishing for sprat” 

Inshore fishingInshore sprat fishing off Atlantic coasts Photo: National Inshore Fishermen's Association

It is understood that the State’s Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) has been alerted to the activities of several large vessels which are legally engaged in fishing for species like sprat and juvenile herring which marine mammals depend on.

A groundbreaking ban on trawling or seine fishing by vessels over 18 metres of length inside six nautical miles, introduced by former marine minister Michael Creed, was recently overturned as a result of a High Court judicial review.

Minister for Marine Charlie McConalogue recently confirmed he is appealing the High Court ruling.

While welcoming the minister’s move, the National Inshore Fishermen’s Association (NIFA) and National Inshore Fishermen’s Organisation have both called for an interim “stay order” which would retain the ban, pending the outcome of the appeal.

NIFA member Michael Foley, a third-generation inshore sprat fisherman from Wexford, said that each year is more and more challenging for the inshore fleet. 

Mr Foley (52) pair trawls for sprat on his 13m Western Dawn with another similar-sized vessel.

“When I began fishing 37 years ago, there were small boats in every port, but now all you have is a handful of boats on pots,” he said.

The Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation representing 53 vessels said it believed the process used by the minister Michael Creed for the initial inshore ban was “fundamentally flawed” and its view had been vindicated by the High Court.

It said it would continue to offer its services to the new minister to see if more research should be carried out by the Marine Institute and if a draft management plan for sprat was required.

A Marine Institute study on the impact of inshore fishing found that vessels over 18m in length spend two per cent of their trawling effort inside six nautical miles.

Read more in The Irish Examiner here

Published in Fishing
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Marine Minister Charlie McConalogue has lodged an appeal against large trawlers fishing Inside Ireland’s six Mile zone, saying he is committed to the sustainability of fishing in Irish waters. 

In December 2018, following a public consultation process in which over 900 submissions were received, the then Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine announced that vessels over 18 metres will be excluded from trawling in inshore waters inside the six nautical mile zone and the baselines from 1 January 2020. A transition period of three years for vessels over 18 metres targeting sprat was allowed to enable adjustment for these vessels, as the sprat fishery is concentrated inside the six nautical mile zone.

A Policy Directive was issued by the Minister to the independent Licensing Authority for Sea Fishing Boats under Statute and was intended to give effect to the measures announced by the then Minister excluding vessels over 18 metres in length from trawling inside six nautical miles

A Judicial Review was taken by two applicant fishermen challenging the validity of the Policy.

The High Court’s ruling of Judicial Review proceedings which relate to the Policy Directive has been appealed by the State to the Court of Appeal and a stay is being sought on the orders granted therein.

Minister McConalogue said that “As this matter is sub judice, I am not in a position to comment on the Policy until the matter can be resolved before the Courts. However, I am committed to the sustainability of fishing in Irish waters and to implementing the commitment made in our Programme for Government that inshore waters continue to be protected for smaller fishing vessels and pair trawling be prohibited inside the six-mile limit.”

Published in Fishing
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When the funeral of Galway fishermen Martin and Tom Oliver left Claddagh church yesterday, the silence among hundreds of people lining the route was broken only by the roar of the river Corrib and the gentle sound of wind in canvas sails.

Three Galway Hookers had moored in the Claddagh Basin, with musician Sharon Shannon on board the deck of one of the vessels playing soft airs on her accordion.

Three Galway Hookers gathered at Claddagh ChurchThree Galway Hookers moored in the Claddagh Basin

Martin, who was almost 62, and his son Tom (37) died within 24 hours of each other after a fishing accident on their potting vessel on the north side of Galway Bay last Monday.

Mayor of Galway Mike Cubbard, who opened a book of online condolences, paid tribute to the two men as “salt of the earth” and “the best of friends”.

He noted that it was only a few weeks since he had recognised the role of Martin’s relatives, Patrick and Morgan Oliver, in rescuing two paddleboarders, Sara Feeney and Ellen Glynn, in Galway Bay last August after 15 hours at sea.

Several generations of the Oliver family have been associated with the lifeboat service, and members of the RNLI and the fishing communities along the coast and on the Aran islands travelled to pay their respects.

Galway RNLI volunteers and members of the Galway Sea Scouts formed a guard of honour outside the church, where a private Mass was celebrated by Fr Gerry Jennings of Salthill parish, assisted by Fr Donal Sweeney of the Claddagh’s Dominican community.

Afterwards, Martin’s daughter and Tom’s sister Susanne and her mother Eileen were consoled by many friends, and relatives, as the city centre came to a standstill and construction work stopped as a mark of respect.

Crew with Badóirí an Cladaigh and the Galway Hooker Sailing Club had rigged the gleoiteog Manuela - named after the late Swiss student Manuela Riedo - along with the leath-bhád Croi an Cladaigh, and the bád mór Naomh Crónán in full sail in the Claddagh basin.

A Garda escort led the cortege over Wolfe Tone bridge and around by Long Walk and into Galway docks, as people lined both sides of the streets.

Two orange flares were released on the water surface, and members of Galway Bay Sailing Club then lit hand-held flares on the dockside, where State research ship Celtic Voyager and a number of fishing and angling vessels were berthed. 

Flares were lit at Galway Docks and Harpist Flares were lit and harpist Úna Ní Fhlannagáin (left) played at Galway Docks

The rich chords of harpist Úna Ní Fhlannagáin resonated as members of the Oliver and Griffin families cast flowers at the water’s edge in bright sunshine. 

The cortege paused for a few moments at the docks, and more tears were shed before the two hearses continued up to Rahoon cemetery overlooking the city. In the graveyard, the father and son – who had been inseparable in life - were buried side by side.

Galway harbourmaster Brian Sheridan said it was a “profoundly sorrowful tragedy for the Oliver family, and the wider fishing community”.

Published in Galway Harbour
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Environmental and commercial fishing groups have joined forces to call for a restoration of a ban on trawling by larger vessels within six nautical miles of the coast.

Marine life such as dolphins, small scale fishing vessels and sea birds dependent on inshore stocks are threatened by the actions of larger fishing vessels, the groups point out.

A letter sent by 15 groups to Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Charlie McConalogue yesterday (Thursday, 29 October) calls on him to take the “steps necessary” to reinstate the ban and protect inshore stocks.

Former marine minister Michael Creed signed the new ban, applicable to fishing vessels over 18 metres working within six miles of the coast, into law from January 1st of this year.

A three-year “transition period” for vessels over 18m targeting sprat inside the six nautical mile zone was allowed.

However, the ban was recently overturned by the High Court in a judicial review taken by fishermen Tom Kennedy and Neil Minihane.

The National Inshore Fisherman's Association (NIFA) and National Inshore Fishermen’s Organisation (NIFO), Birdwatch Ireland, An Taisce, Cork Environmental Forum, Cork Nature Network, Coomhola Salmon Trust, Environmental Pillar and Friends of the Irish Environment are signatories to the appeal to Mr McConalogue.

The Irish Seal Sanctuary, Irish Whale and Dolphin Group, Irish Wildlife Trust, Oceana, Seas at Risk, Sustainable Water Network and Our Fish non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have also signed the letter.

The groups say that the policy directive, introduced by Mr Creed, “was one of the most important fisheries policy shifts in the history of the Irish state, and was broadly welcomed as being the right decision from a social, economic, environmental and a social justice perspective”.

The groups say it was backed by expert analysis by the Marine Institute and the Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

“The fishing industry and environmental NGOs are often portrayed as opposing forces, however, the reality is they have a common goal or vision for a healthy marine environment,” NIFA spokesman Alex Crowley said.

“Inshore fishers are acutely aware of the need for a healthy marine environment to support their businesses and way of life, and as an economic sector ... we are particularly exposed to negative environmental impacts,” Mr Crowley added.

Birdwatch Ireland policy officer Fintan Kelly said that “overfishing has hollowed out marine ecosystems” and had “a direct impact on the Irish fishing communities” that depend on collapsing stocks.

Our Fish programme director Rebecca Hubbard said that the Government can “ deliver on ambitions to halt the biodiversity and climate emergency” and “set an impressive example for other European countries to follow” by reinstating the ban.

The Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine said that the minister is “currently considering the implications of the judgment in consultation with his department officials and legal advisors”.

The department noted that “while the applicants did not succeed on four of the five grounds of challenge, the challenge was made against the entire policy directive and was successful”.

The High Court judgment found the policy directive did not impinge constitutional rights, was not disproportionate and did not breach EU law, the department noted.

However, it said that the challenge did succeed on the point that “given the impact... there was a particular duty on the Minister to provide a fuller explanation and engage in further talks with the applicants”.

Published in Marine Wildlife
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 A French-registered fishing vessel has been detained by the Naval Service patrol ship LÉ William Butler Yeats (P63) off the south-west coast.

The detention approximately 45 nautical miles south-west of Mizen Head was in relation to alleged breaches of fishing regulations, according to the Defence Forces press office.

The vessel is being escorted to Castletownbere, Co Cork, where it will be handed over to the Garda.

It is the 12th vessel detained by the Naval Service in 2020, working with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.

As Afloat reported previously, the LÉ William Butler Yeats also detained a French fishing vessel in July, off the Blaskets.

Published in Navy
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An investigation into the death of the young west Cork fisherman Kodie Healy in Dunmanus Bay last year says he may have fallen overboard his boat.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) report published today says Mr Healy had only bought the boat three to four weeks before the incident on October 9th, 2019.

The 23-year-old man was a trained and experienced commercial fisherman and was on a day off when he went fishing for mackerel and pollack in the 5.7-metre open deck GRP vessel Tommy R 

He was not wearing a lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD), and the report notes that he may not have known that there was a satellite personal locator beacon (PLB) onboard the vessel.

The hull was not found, but wreckage was picked up widely, and his body was located by divers north-west of Carbery island in a gulley or crevice in 11 metres of water on October 13th.

There had been an extensive search for Mr Healy, after he was reported overdue by his father, John Healy - from a well known west Cork fishing family - on the evening of October 9th last year.

An autopsy identified death by acute cardio-respiratory failure due to drowning.

The MCIB report concludes that “the most probable cause” of his death was that he fell overboard sometime after 1 pm when close to the northwest shore of Carbery Island.

“The ‘Tommy R’ steering would have been uncontrolled and the boat would have come into close proximity of the Carbery breaker or the seas northwest of Carbery island,” the report says.

The boat would then have been “overwhelmed, broken up and sunk by a breaking sea”.

Contributory factors identified by the MCIB include adverse weather, with a small craft warning and rough seas in Dunmanus Bay.; and the fact that Mr Healy was not wearing a PFD.

The report says he was fishing “on his own in very dangerous seas off Carbery breaker and Carbery island”, and the vessel was not suitable for those sea conditions on that day.

The qualified commercial fisherman who trained at the National Fisheries College, Castletownbere had left to fish in Dunmanus Bay at 8 am on that morning,

The Irish Coast Guard, RNLI, Naval Service, West Cork Underwater Search and Rescue dive team and Blackwater SAR Daunt and Cork Sub Aqua were among units involved in the extensive search.

Shortly before 10 pm that first night, boat wreckage was found at Drishane point on the Dunmanus peninsula.

The report says that the Tommy R was previously a fishing vessel named the FV Jamie Andrea, and was removed from the fishing vessel register by application in August 2017. As a recreational craft, it was exempt with compliance with the EU directive on fishing vessels of this size.

It says that “from the type and condition of the wreckage, it may be deduced that the boat’s sinking was rapid leaving little time for the casualty, if he was on board and not incapacitated, to send out a distress signal, call for help, grab a lifesaving device or prepare to abandon the boat”.

The report says Mr Healy used the boat for recreational fishing on several occasions prior to the incident.

The boat, built-in 1983, had declarations of compliance, with stability declared as satisfactory.

There was no record of a VHF licence, but the radio was reported to be working. However, there was no reported VHF communication from the vessel.

The report says Mr Healy intended to use a dive board method - a device with several fish lures attached which is trolled at the end of a line behind a boat moving slowly forward at around two to three knots.

In correspondence, Mr Healy’s father John included a number of omissions in the draft report.

Mr Healy said his son was a very experienced seaman, having fished from the age of seven and in waters from “Rockall to the English Channel” in later years.

“Personally, I believe that without more sightings of the boat on that day or, ideally, having the GPS tracker for that day, it is fair and reasonable to say at this time that only the sea holds the mystery of what happened,” Mr Healy wrote.

Published in MCIB
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About the Irish Navy

The Navy maintains a constant presence 24 hours a day, 365 days a year throughout Ireland’s enormous and rich maritime jurisdiction, upholding Ireland’s sovereign rights. The Naval Service is tasked with a variety of roles including defending territorial seas, deterring intrusive or aggressive acts, conducting maritime surveillance, maintaining an armed naval presence, ensuring right of passage, protecting marine assets, countering port blockades; people or arms smuggling, illegal drugs interdiction, and providing the primary diving team in the State.

The Service supports Army operations in the littoral and by sealift, has undertaken supply and reconnaissance missions to overseas peace support operations and participates in foreign visits all over the world in support of Irish Trade and Diplomacy.  The eight ships of the Naval Service are flexible and adaptable State assets. Although relatively small when compared to their international counterparts and the environment within which they operate, their patrol outputs have outperformed international norms.

The Irish Naval Service Fleet

The Naval Service is the State's principal seagoing agency. The Naval Service operates jointly with the Army and Air Corps.

The fleet comprises one Helicopter Patrol Vessel (HPV), three Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), two Large Patrol Vessel (LPV) and two Coastal Patrol Vessels (CPV). Each vessel is equipped with state of the art machinery, weapons, communications and navigation systems.

LÉ EITHNE P31

LE Eithne was built in Verlome Dockyard in Cork and was commissioned into service in 1984. She patrols the Irish EEZ and over the years she has completed numerous foreign deployments.

Type Helicopter Patrol Vessel
Length 80.0m
Beam 12m
Draught 4.3m
Main Engines 2 X Ruston 12RKC Diesels6, 800 HP2 Shafts
Speed 18 knots
Range 7000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 55 (6 Officers)
Commissioned 7 December 1984

LÉ ORLA P41

L.É. Orla was formerly the HMS SWIFT a British Royal Navy patrol vessel stationed in the waters of Hong Kong. She was purchased by the Irish State in 1988. She scored a notable operational success in 1993 when she conducted the biggest drug seizure in the history of the state at the time, with her interception and boarding at sea of the 65ft ketch, Brime.

Type Coastal Patrol Vessel
Length 62.6m
Beam 10m
Draught 2.7m
Main Engines 2 X Crossley SEMT- Pielstick Diesels 14,400 HP 2 Shafts
Speed 25 + Knots
Range 2500 Nautical Miles @ 17 knots
Crew 39 (5 Officers)

LÉ CIARA P42

L.É. Ciara was formerly the HMS SWALLOW a British Royal Navy patrol vessel stationed in the waters of Hong Kong. She was purchased by the Irish State in 1988. She scored a notable operational success in Nov 1999 when she conducted the second biggest drug seizure in the history of the state at that time, with her interception and boarding at sea of MV POSIDONIA of the south-west coast of Ireland.

Type Coastal Patrol Vessel
Length 62.6m
Beam 10m
Draught 2.7m
Main Engines 2 X Crossley SEMT- Pielstick Diesels 14,400 HP 2 Shafts
Speed 25 + Knots
Range 2500 Nautical Miles @ 17 knots
Crew 39 (5 Officers)

LÉ ROISIN P51

L.É. Roisin (the first of the Roisín class of vessel) was built in Appledore Shipyards in the UK for the Naval Service in 2001. She was built to a design that optimises her patrol performance in Irish waters (which are some of the roughest in the world), all year round. For that reason a greater length overall (78.8m) was chosen, giving her a long sleek appearance and allowing the opportunity to improve the conditions on board for her crew.

Type Long Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 78.84m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 X Twin 16 cly V26 Wartsila 26 medium speed Diesels
5000 KW at 1,000 RPM 2 Shafts
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)
Commissioned 18 September 2001

LÉ NIAMH P52

L.É. Niamh (the second of the Róisín class) was built in Appledore Shipyard in the UK for the Naval Service in 2001. She is an improved version of her sister ship, L.É.Roisin

Type Long Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 78.84m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 X Twin 16 cly V26 Wartsila 26 medium speed Diesels
5000 KW at 1,000 RPM 2 Shafts
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)
Commissioned 18 September 2001

LÉ SAMUEL BECKETT P61

LÉ Samuel Beckett is an Offshore Patrol Vessel built and fitted out to the highest international standards in terms of safety, equipment fit, technological innovation and crew comfort. She is also designed to cope with the rigours of the North-East Atlantic.

Type Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 90.0m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 x Wärtsilä diesel engines and Power Take In, 2 x shafts, 10000kw
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)

LÉ JAMES JOYCE P62

LÉ James Joyce is an Offshore Patrol Vessel and represents an updated and lengthened version of the original RÓISÍN Class OPVs which were also designed and built to the Irish Navy specifications by Babcock Marine Appledore and she is truly a state of the art ship. She was commissioned into the naval fleet in September 2015. Since then she has been constantly engaged in Maritime Security and Defence patrolling of the Irish coast. She has also deployed to the Defence Forces mission in the Mediterranean from July to end of September 2016, rescuing 2491 persons and recovering the bodies of 21 deceased

Type Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 90.0m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 x Wärtsilä diesel engines and Power Take In, 2 x shafts, 10000kw
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)

LÉ WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS P63

L.É. William Butler Yeats was commissioned into the naval fleet in October 2016. Since then she has been constantly engaged in Maritime Security and Defence patrolling of the Irish coast. She has also deployed to the Defence Forces mission in the Mediterranean from July to October 2017, rescuing 704 persons and recovering the bodies of three deceased.

Type Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 90.0m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 x Wärtsilä diesel engines and Power Take In, 2 x shafts, 10000kw
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)

LÉ GEORGE BERNARD SHAW P64

LÉ George Bernard Shaw (pennant number P64) is the fourth and final ship of the P60 class vessels built for the Naval Service in Babcock Marine Appledore, Devon. The ship was accepted into State service in October 2018, and, following a military fit-out, commenced Maritime Defence and Security Operations at sea.

Type Offshore Patrol Vessel
Length 90.0m
Beam 14m
Draught 3.8m
Main Engines 2 x Wärtsilä diesel engines and Power Take In, 2 x shafts, 10000kw
Speed 23 knots
Range 6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots
Crew 44 (6 Officers)

Ship information courtesy of the Defence Forces

Irish Navy FAQs

The Naval Service is the Irish State's principal seagoing agency with "a general responsibility to meet contingent and actual maritime defence requirements". It is tasked with a variety of defence and other roles.

The Naval Service is based in Ringaskiddy, Cork harbour, with headquarters in the Defence Forces headquarters in Dublin.

The Naval Service provides the maritime component of the Irish State's defence capabilities and is the State's principal seagoing agency. It "protects Ireland's interests at and from the sea, including lines of communication, fisheries and offshore resources" within the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Naval Service operates jointly with the Army and Air Corps as part of the Irish defence forces.

The Naval Service was established in 1946, replacing the Marine and Coastwatching Service set up in 1939. It had replaced the Coastal and Marine Service, the State's first marine service after independence, which was disbanded after a year. Its only ship was the Muirchú, formerly the British armed steam yacht Helga, which had been used by the Royal Navy to shell Dublin during the 1916 Rising. In 1938, Britain handed over the three "treaty" ports of Cork harbour, Bere haven and Lough Swilly.

The Naval Service has nine ships - one Helicopter Patrol Vessel (HPV), three Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV), two Large Patrol Vessel (LPV) and two Coastal Patrol Vessels (CPV). Each vessel is equipped with State of the art machinery, weapons, communications and navigation systems.

The ships' names are prefaced with the title of Irish ship or "long Éireannach" (LE). The older ships bear Irish female names - LÉ Eithne, LÉ Orla, LÉ Ciara, LÉ Roisín, and LÉ Niamh. The newer ships, named after male Irish literary figures, are LÉ Samuel Beckett, LÉ James Joyce, LÉ William Butler Yeats and LÉ George Bernard Shaw.

Yes. The 76mm Oto Melara medium calibre naval armament is the most powerful weapon in the Naval Services arsenal. The 76mm is "capable of engaging naval targets at a range of up to 17km with a high level of precision, ensuring that the Naval Service can maintain a range advantage over all close-range naval armaments and man-portable weapon systems", according to the Defence Forces.

The Fleet Operational Readiness Standards and Training (FORST) unit is responsible for the coordination of the fleet needs. Ships are maintained at the Mechanical Engineering and Naval Dockyard Unit at Ringaskiddy, Cork harbour.

The helicopters are designated as airborne from initial notification in 15 minutes during daylight hours, and 45 minutes at night. The aircraft respond to emergencies at sea, on inland waterways, offshore islands and mountains and cover the 32 counties. They can also assist in flooding, major inland emergencies, intra-hospital transfers, pollution, and can transport offshore firefighters and ambulance teams. The Irish Coast Guard volunteers units are expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time of departing from the station house in ten minutes from notification during daylight and 20 minutes at night. They are also expected to achieve a 90 per cent response time to the scene of the incident in less than 60 minutes from notification by day and 75 minutes at night, subject to geographical limitations.

The Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service (FOCNS) is Commodore Michael Malone. The head of the Defence Forces is a former Naval Service flag officer, now Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett – appointed in 2015 and the first Naval Service flag officer to hold this senior position. The Flag Officer oversees Naval Operations Command, which is tasked with the conduct of all operations afloat and ashore by the Naval Service including the operations of Naval Service ships. The Naval Operations Command is split into different sections, including Operations HQ and Intelligence and Fishery Section.

The Intelligence and Fishery Section is responsible for Naval Intelligence, the Specialist Navigation centre, the Fishery Protection supervisory and information centre, and the Naval Computer Centre. The Naval Intelligence Cell is responsible for the collection, collation and dissemination of naval intelligence. The Navigation Cell is the naval centre for navigational expertise.

The Fishery Monitoring Centre provides for fishery data collection, collation, analysis and dissemination to the Naval Service and client agencies, including the State's Sea Fisheries Protection Agency. The centre also supervises fishery efforts in the Irish EEZ and provides data for the enhanced effectiveness of fishery protection operations, as part of the EU Common Fisheries Policy. The Naval Computer Centre provides information technology (IT) support service to the Naval Service ashore and afloat.

This headquarters includes specific responsibility for the Executive/Operations Branch duties. The Naval Service Operations Room is a coordination centre for all NS current Operations. The Naval Service Reserve Staff Officer is responsible for the supervision, regulation and training of the reserve. The Diving section is responsible for all aspects of Naval diving and the provision of a diving service to the Naval Service and client agencies. The Ops Security Section is responsible for the coordination of base security and the coordination of all shore-based security parties operating away from the Naval base. The Naval Base Comcen is responsible for the running of a communications service. Boat transport is under the control of Harbour Master Naval Base, who is responsible for the supervision of berthage at the Naval Base and the provision of a boat service, including the civilian manned ferry service from Haulbowline.

Naval Service ships have undertaken trade and supply missions abroad, and personnel have served as peacekeepers with the United Nations. In 2015, Naval Service ships were sent on rotation to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean as part of a bi-lateral arrangement with Italy, known as Operation Pontus. Naval Service and Army medical staff rescued some 18,000 migrants, either pulling people from the sea or taking them off small boats, which were often close to capsizing having been towed into open water and abandoned by smugglers. Irish ships then became deployed as part of EU operations in the Mediterranean, but this ended in March 2019 amid rising anti-immigrant sentiment in the EU.

Essentially, you have to be Irish, young (less than 32), in good physical and mental health and with normal vision. You must be above 5'2″, and your weight should be in keeping with your age.

Yes, women have been recruited since 1995. One of the first two female cadets, Roberta O'Brien from the Glen of Aherlow in Co Tipperary, became its first female commander in September 2020. Sub Lieutenant Tahlia Britton from Donegal also became the first female diver in the navy's history in the summer of 2020.

A naval cadet enlists for a cadetship to become an officer in the Defence Forces. After successfully completing training at the Naval Service College, a cadet is commissioned into the officer ranks of the Naval Service as a Ensign or Sub Lieutenant.

A cadet trains for approximately two years duration divided into different stages. The first year is spent in military training at the Naval Base in Haulbowline, Cork. The second-year follows a course set by the National Maritime College of Ireland course. At the end of the second year and on completion of exams, and a sea term, the cadets will be qualified for the award of a commission in the Permanent Defence Force as Ensign.

The Defence Forces say it is looking for people who have "the ability to plan, prioritise and organise", to "carefully analyse problems, in order to generate appropriate solutions, who have "clear, concise and effective communication skills", and the ability to "motivate others and work with a team". More information is on the 2020 Qualifications Information Leaflet.

When you are 18 years of age or over and under 26 years of age on the date mentioned in the notice for the current competition, the officer cadet competition is held annually and is the only way for potential candidates to join the Defence Forces to become a Naval Service officer. Candidates undergo psychometric and fitness testing, an interview and a medical exam.
The NMCI was built beside the Naval Service base at Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, and was the first third-level college in Ireland to be built under the Government's Public-Private Partnership scheme. The public partners are the Naval Service and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and the private partner is Focus Education.
A Naval Service recruit enlists for general service in the "Other Ranks" of the Defence Forces. After successfully completing the initial recruit training course, a recruit passes out as an Ordinary Seaman and will then go onto their branch training course before becoming qualified as an Able Body sailor in the Naval Service.
No formal education qualifications are required to join the Defence Forces as a recruit. You need to satisfy the interview board and the recruiting officer that you possess a sufficient standard of education for service in the Defence Forces.
Recruit training is 18 weeks in duration and is designed to "develop a physically fit, disciplined and motivated person using basic military and naval skills" to "prepare them for further training in the service. Recruits are instilled with the Naval Service ethos and the values of "courage, respect, integrity and loyalty".
On the progression up through the various ranks, an Able Rate will have to complete a number of career courses to provide them with training to develop their skills in a number of areas, such as leadership and management, administration and naval/military skills. The first of these courses is the Naval Service Potential NCO course, followed by the Naval Service Standard NCO course and the Naval Service senior NCO course. This course qualifies successful candidates of Petty officer (or Senior Petty Officer) rank to fill the rank of Chief Petty Officer upwards. The successful candidate may also complete and graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership, Management and Naval Studies in partnership with Cork Institute of Technology.
Pay has long been an issue for just the Naval Service, at just over 1,000 personnel. Cadets and recruits are required to join the single public service pension scheme, which is a defined benefit scheme, based on career-average earnings. For current rates of pay, see the Department of Defence website.

 

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