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A French-registered fishing vessel has been detained by the Naval Service off the south-west coast.

The LÉ William Butler Yeats (P63) detained the vessel for alleged breaches of fishing regulations after a boarding inspection approximately 11 nautical miles south-west of the Blasket Islands.

The vessel is being escorted to Dingle, Co Kerry, where it will be handed over the Garda, the Defence Forces press office said.

This is the eleventh vessel detained by the Naval Service in 2020.

Published in Fishing
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Roberta O’Brien was one of the first women to enter the Naval Service when she joined as a cadet in 1995.

Then in 2008 she broke the glass ceiling by becoming the first female captain of a navy patrol vessel, the LÉ Aisling.

Now the ceiling is shattered even further as the 25-year veteran has made history as the Naval Service’s first woman to attain the rank of commander, as the Irish Examiner reports.

The move comes just weeks after Sub-Lieutenant Tahlia Britton became the first woman to join the ranks of the Naval Service’s elite diving unit, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

And the now Commander O’Brien hopes that her promotion will be a signal that a career at the highest ranks of the Naval Service is achievable to women.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Navy
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Ryan Tubridy was a guest of the Irish Naval Service yesterday having taken a private tour and coastal trip onboard LÉ Ciara from Dun Laoghaire Harbour into Dublin Bay before the onset of Storm Ellen, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The broadcaster of the Ryan Tubridy Show on RTE Radio 1, spoke on his programme this morning following his naval tour-trip, citing a limited knowledge of nautical terms. This was clearly demonstrated when boarding LÉ Ciara in Dun Laoghaire Harbour where he mentioned 'boat' but the crew corrected him with a reply of 'ship'.

Despite the introductory slip-up, Ryan was clearly impressed of the work involved in the Naval Service as crew of the LÉ Ciara gave him an insightful tour. This included the bridge, mess-room and the galley, where the menu is constantly changing, given the variety is all too important to keep a crew of 39 (including 5 Officers) content while working at sea.

Among the equipment highlighted on the bridge, was the satelitte tracking of ships represented by 'lights' as Tubridy refered to, however the distinct absence of such notably off the south-west coast was due to Storm Ellen, which kept fishing vessels decidely away from such dangerous seas.

It was during yesterday morning that Afloat routinely tracked online shipping, among them LÉ Ciara to Dun Laoghaire Harbour and by concidence this took place shortly before listening to the Tubridy Show discussing the pending invite from the Naval Service.

Prior to this, LÉ Ciara had sailed from Cork Harbour to Dun Laoghaire Harbour where the radio presenter (to grace TV screens in September with RTE's flagship 'Late Late Show') was taken out on a short coastal trip into Dublin Bay. This included a transit through Dalkey Sound which took place before noon which then led the Coastal Patrol Vessel (CPV) return to Dun Laoghaire Harbour having rounded Dalkey Island.

It was in these same waters where Afloat reported last week, a rockfall incident within Coliemore Harbour, Dalkey which forced the temporary closure of the passenger ferryboat service to the island 300m offshore. This remains so also given the tail end of Storm Ellen.

As for LÉ Ciara, the sleek CPV has been in the Naval Service for more than 30 years, following an initial career albeit brief of just 4 years with the UK Royal Navy's Hong Kong Patrol Squadron before its Irish role where the ship was not the only ship in Dun Laoghaire Harbour yesterday as outlined below.

Firstly though was the excursion vessel, St. Bridget of Dublin Bay Cruises that was berthed ahead of LÉ Ciara while routinely alongside St. Michael's Pier, though given the increasingly inclement weather not surprisingly no cruises took place among them around Dalkey Island. The bad weather led St. Bridget yesterday afternoon make a 'repositioning' short passage across Dublin Bay to take a berth in the capital port next to the tug, Giano as Afloat has also reported.

While back in Dun Laoghaire Harbour the homeport of ILV Granuaile which berthed at Carlisle Pier and where nearby the Commissioners of Irish Lights operate the tender from their headquarters located beside the port's marina. Asides leisure craft and yachts is the former Dutch barge Stella at the 'Coal' Harbour and a former UK based Thames lighter tug, Swiftstone which is undergoing restoration as a 'heritage' tug.

The UK connection continues as L.É. Ciara was formerly a Royal Navy vessel HMS Swallow stationed in the waters of Hong Kong as part of a coastal patrol squadron based at the former colony. The 62m vessel which has a shallow draft of 2.7m, was acquired by the Irish Government in 1988 and the CPV celebrated more than three decades in service as Afloat previously highlighted in recent years.

L.É. Ciara's primary armament consists of a 76mm OTO Melara compact gun mounted at the fo'c'sle near the bow in addition a Canon Radamec Fire Control System. As for service speed is given as 25 knots but can be more.

Following the media-naval rendez-vous, Afloat observed the L.É. Ciara re-enter Dublin Bay yesterday as the CPV at almost 14.15 was offshore of The Muglins where a lightbeacon is located on the rocky islet to the east of Dalkey Island.  For more on local coastal matters, see: 'Maritime' Dalkey series (2011-2016) published in the Dalkey Community Council Newsletters.

According to online tracking, L.É. Ciara headed back to its homeport of Cork Harbour as Storm Ellen progressed, though the CPV arrived just before 2300hrs last night where the small ship remains at anchorage.

Published in Navy

A gunnery officer from Donegal has become the first female diver in the history of Ireland’s Naval Service, as RTÉ News reports.

Sub-Lieutenant Tahlia Britton received her diving log book along with two other newly qualified divers in a ceremony at Haulbowline yesterday, Friday 14 August.

It came after all three had graduated from an 11-week course noted for its difficulty and high attrition rate — and now they will become part of the Naval Service’s elite diving service.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Diving
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A German-registered Spanish fishing vessel detained last week by the Naval Service near Rockall had been at the centre of an alleged confrontation off the Scottish coast last month.

As The Irish Examiner reports, the 29-metre Pesorsa Dos was detained by Irish navy patrol ship LÉ William Butler Yeats some 250 miles off Malin Head, Co Donegal for “alleged infringements of EU fishing regulations in Irish waters” on July 16th.

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael has highlighted the Irish detention, noting the British authorities said they could not take any action over an incident involving the same Spanish vessel off Scotland.

However, defence force sources have said the Irish detention was for a separate alleged infringement.

Video footage of the gill netter, from the Spanish port of La Coruna, filmed on June 11th, showed it allegedly trying to foul the propeller of a Scottish fishing vessel, Alison Kay, some 30 miles west of the Shetland islands.

The British Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) was urged to investigate the incident, which Scottish skippers claimed to be the latest in a series of such confrontations over fishing grounds.

However, the MCA said it had no jurisdiction to investigate it as it was outside the 12-mile jurisdictional limit in which it could take action against foreign-flagged vessels.

It said its maritime investigations team had written to the German maritime administration “to raise its concerns”, as it was the responsibility of the flag state.

The German federal police department for maritime security has been reported as stating there is “no suspicion of an offence under German law”.

It is understood the vessel was gillnetting near Rockall, and had ten tonnes of monkfish on board when it was boarded and detained by the LÉ William Butler Yeats.

The vessel was escorted to Killybegs, Co Donegal and handed over to the Garda and the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA).

Mr Carmichael said the fact that “the Irish authorities were able to detain the Pesorsa Dos entirely undermines the argument of the UK and German authorities that there was nothing to be done about its dangerous activities”.

He told the MCA in a letter that the actions of Spanish fishermen had “caused a great deal of anger and frustration for trawlermen in my constituency and across the north of Scotland in recent years”, due to both “aggressive acts such as those outlined, and the wider use of gill-nets which can cover large areas and thus prevent other fishermen from working in those areas”.

The SFPA said that a 24-hour detention order for the vessel was granted on July 21st at Carrick-on-Shannon district court in Co Leitrim. It said it could not comment further as the case was before the courts. It was the Naval Service’s seventh detention at sea this year.

Read more in The Irish Examiner here

Published in Navy
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The Naval Service patrol ship LÉ James Joyce prepared to depart Galway port at the weekend, as COVID-19 virus test centres in the west were scaled down.

The LE James Joyce berthed in Galway on April 8th, replacing the LÉ William Butler Yeats which set up the first field hospital in Galway for the Health Service Executive last month (march).

It is understood the test facilities at Galway’s dockside were used minimally over the ten days, and the LÉ James Joyce was informed at the weekend that its services were no longer required.

Two other patrol ships are still providing assistance to the HSE – the LÉ Niamh on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay in Dublin, and the LÉ Eithne on Albert Quay in Cork.

Testing is not taking place at the LÉ Eithne, but the ship’s crew has been assisting with storage of personal protection equipment and decanting hand sanitisers.

.Galway had 273 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus as of yesterday, an increase of seven over a 24-hour report period.

Both Galway and Mayo are said to be at the lower end of the scale of confirmed cases of the virus.

The HSE has said it is up to date on COVID-19 test referrals, with waiting time for an appointment at under 24 hours.

Paying tribute to all staff involved, it said that community test centres could be stepped up again if required.

Published in Galway Harbour

Crew of the LÉ Eithne, which EchoLive.ie reported earlier today, have been tasked to deliver personal protective equipment to HSE locations across Cork city.

The Naval Service vessel is docked in Cork city since March 20, awaiting a tasking from the HSE as part of the Covid-19 operation.

Since Tuesday, the vessel’s crew has been delivering PPE and alcohol-based handrub to numerous locations.

A spokesman for the Defence Forces said the locations change every day.

He also said it is unlikely that the LÉ Eithne will be used as a test centre in the immediate future. 

The LÉ Samuel Beckett (Afloat adds recently taken over by LÉ Niamh) in Dublin and LÉ William Butler Yeats in Galway are already being used as test centres. (Albeit Afloat adds using field tents set up on quaysides)  

Two weeks ago, the Defence Forces notified the Navy to place vessels in Cork, Dublin, and Galway for a possible tasking by the HSE.

For more on the story click here. 

Afloat previously stated incorrectly that LÉ Eithne is been used as a test centre. 

This afternoon Afloat confirmed with the Naval Service which said that LÉ Eithne remains alongside Cork City as part of the Defence Force’s efforts to generate more capacity to help the HSE to fight Covid-19. To date the vessel has not received any tasking relating to a testing centre. 

Published in News Update

Naval Service vessel the LÉ Samuel Beckett arrived in Dublin this morning (Sunday 15 March) as part of Óglaigh na hÉireann’s efforts to generate more capacity to help the HSE during the current Covid-19 response.

The Irish Defence Forces said: “P61’s facilities, resources and crew will be ready when requested by primary response agencies to fight Covid-19.”

The latest guidelines for the public are available on the HSE website HERE.

In an urgent need to address gaps in maritime and air security, and the threat posed by cyber attacks, they feature prominently in submissions made to the country's first national security strategy.

A total of 60 submissions have been made in a public consultation launched by the newly-established National Security Analysis Centre.

The NSAC, based within the Department of the Taoiseach, is drawing up the State's first-ever National Security Strategy.

While the submissions have not yet been published by the department a number are available on the websites of bodies that have made them

In its detailed submission, the Association of Retired Commissioned Officers (ARCO) said the threats to Ireland's national security range from energy security, espionage and extremism to hybrid warfare, major pandemics, nuclear contamination and terrorism.

The submission, authored by Brigadier-General Paul Pakenham (Retd), said that ISIS is “likely to reemerge in the short to medium term”.

It said the concept of military neutrality was “flawed and outdated” and that cyber-enabled attacks and hybrid warfare “do not respect Ireland's military neutrality posture".

ARCO said a “substantial increase” in investment in defence capabilities is required, pointing out that Ireland has the lowest defence spend in the EU, at 0.3% of GDP (average 1.3%).

It said the trans American-European sea and air lanes are in “close proximity” to Ireland and that Ireland's significant reliance on sea lanes presents a potential risk.

The Irish Maritime Forum, an independent professional body, also looked at on sea lanes of communication.

It wants an increased focus, by boosting the Naval Service, to protect Ireland's maritime domain, which is the largest in northwest Europe, with 92% of Ireland's area being underwater.

“We are a small trading nation living on an island and 99% (by volume) of everything we import or export is transported by sea," it said.

“The sea and air traffic between northern Europe and the USA passes close to our shores and through or above waters over which we have jurisdiction or for which we have responsibility.”

Much more from BreakingNews.ie here.

Published in Navy

A Naval Service diver who was involved in migrant rescue in the Mediterranean is one of seven recipients of Defence Forces value awards conferred by President Michael D Higgins on Wednesday evening writes Lorna Siggins

Able Mechanician Ryan O’Driscoll, originally from Rush, Co Dublin, and a Naval Service diver for the past three years, was also involved in the recovery operation after the loss of four Irish Coast Guard air crew in the Rescue 116 crash off north Mayo over two years ago.

The Defence Force value awards aim to celebrate outstanding service, and acknowledge the support and encouragement of the families of the recipients.

Also awarded were Corporal Caitriona Lacey, Gunner David Stack, Corporal David McCormack, Private Thomas Carew, Sergeant PJ McCabe and Regimental Sergeant Major John Murray.

Able Mechanician O’Driscoll served on the Naval Service ship LE Samuel Beckett in the Mediterranean during Ireland’s participation in Operation Pontus, a bilateral rescue initiative with Italy, and the now-suspended EUNAVFOR Med Operation Sophia.

As a diver, he participated in many missions in Irish waters and was directly involved in the recovery of the body of Irish Coast Guard co-pilot Capt Mark Duffy from the wreckage of the R116 helicopter off Blackrock island in north Mayo in March, 2017.

He was described in his citation as being a natural leader who has the respect of his peers.

Private Thomas Carew Private Thomas Carew, from Ferrybank in Waterford, was awarded for his “commendable selflessness” in saving the life of a civilian motorcyclist in a road accident in which he was propelled by the impact of the collision into an estuary in high tide.

Private Carew, from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Battalion, was nominated by a former superior.

Cpl David McCormack from Galway, was nominated by many of his comrades from the 1st Infantry Battalion for his response to an assault which left him with life-threatening injuries after he had returned from overseas service with the UN.

Cpl Catriona Lacey from Athlone, Co Westmeath, was nominated by fellow soldiers in 6th Infantry Battalion, having demonstrated moral courage after the loss of her brother, Thomas, to suicide in 2014.

Her father, Frank served 31 years in the Defence Forces brass band as a bugler and played at former president Eamon De Valera’s funeral. He is retired 20 years.

President Higgins said he was pleased to have been asked by Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett, head of the Defence Forces, to facilitate the event and “to celebrate the outstanding service given by seven deserving awardees”.

“ I am so pleased to have the opportunity of acknowledging in general, the support given by the families of so many members of our defence forces – a support that makes the contribution of their partners possible,” Mr Higgins said.

“You have all displayed a magnanimous resolve and steadfast commitment to uphold the central values of the Defence Forces, and your individual efforts and service to Ireland are being highlighted in this ceremony today,” Mr Higgins said.

Published in Navy
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The Irish Navy 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

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 sea lift, 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.

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