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#NavalPay- The Irish Times reports that members of the Naval Service rescuing migrants from the Mediterranean are not entitled to full overseas service payments because they are not in danger, the Department of Defence has said.

PDforra, the association representing soldiers, sailors and aircrew, is urging Minister for Defence Simon Coveney to pay those on the international rescue mission in the Mediterranean the same daily allowances as soldiers deployed in world trouble spots.

Members of the Army serving in missions in Lebanon and the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria are entitled to €80 per day tax free as well as their usual salaries.

However, those sailors working in the Mediterranean have been offered €50 per day, tax free.

PDforra says the ships the Naval Service personnel are working on are fully armed and that sailors have had to produce their firearms when pulling up alongside some boats packed with migrants.

Because of that, it believes the personnel are entitled to the full daily payments, which would be worth between €1,500 and €2,000 tax free over a tour of duty.

The newspaper has more on the story, click here.

Published in Navy

#BeckettRescue - The patrol ship LÉ Samuel Beckett of the Naval Service has rescued 242 people off the Libyan coast on its first humanitarian tasking in the Mediterranean, reports The Irish Times.

The ship, which took over from the LÉ Niamh last week, located a wooden craft with 237 men and five women on board about 80 km north-west of Tripoli around 8am Irish time yesterday.

The overloaded craft had been sighted at 3am by an Italian naval helicopter, and the Italian Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre directed a number of ships to the area, including the LÉ Samuel Beckett and the British naval service ship HMS Enterprise.

For more on the story, click here.

Published in Navy

#DeploymentDecember – According to The Irish Independent, the role of Ireland’s migrant rescue mission in the Mediterranean headed by the Naval Service will be suspended from early December.

The Government believes the rescue mission, undertaken in conjunction with the Italian Coastguard, can be suspended given the likelihood that winter weather and Mediterranean storms will drastically reduce the number of migrant boats being launched.

Defence Minister Simon Coveney has hinted that Ireland will consider ordering a fourth Naval Service patrol ship to waters off Sicily and Libya in early 2016 if formally requested to do so by the EU.

Three Irish ships - LÉ Eithne, LÉ Niamh and LÉ Samuel Beckett - have rescued more than 7,500 migrants since the first navy ship was deployed last May.

LÉ Niamh (recently returned) alone rescued more than 4,100 migrants and recovered 39 bodies.

The Government confirmed plans to bring the LÉ Samuel Beckett back to Ireland without a replacement vessel in early December.

The move came as it emerged Cork and Kerry are set to be asked to accommodate the first 100 Syrian refugees to arrive.

For further coverage the newspaper has more by clicking here.

Published in Navy

#LeNiamhReturns - The crew of a Naval Service patrol ship savoured a hero’s welcome home after three months in the Mediterranean during which time they saved more than 4,200 migrants, reports the Irish Independent.

The LE Niamh and her 59-strong crew arrived back yesterday at Haulbowline Naval Base in Cork to full military honours and a dockside thronged by families desperate to be reunited with their loved ones.

The ship made history as the first Irish vessel on which a baby was successfully delivered.

More than 500 relatives, friends and colleagues gathered on the dockside to cheer the crew as they ended their three month tour of duty.

Defence Forces chief of staff, Vice-Admiral Mark Mellet, said the families had every right to be proud of what the crew had achieved.

"In the course of doing their job they have seen things that no-one should have to witness," he added.
LE Niamh also recovered multiple bodies from the Mediterranean after migrant boats capsized and sank.

The vessel arrives in Cork after being replaced on station off North Africa by LE Samuel Beckett which as reported on Afloat.ie met in the western Mediterranean earlier this week to transfer equipment and key personnel.

The new Irish patrol vessel took up duties off the North African coast on Thursday evening. For more about the homecoming of the OPV to Cork Harbour, click here.

Published in Navy

#NavalMedTransfer – In an undisclosed location in the western Mediterranean, the Naval Service L.E. Niamh and L.E. Samuel Beckett met at rendez-vous point yesterday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The pair of offshore patrol vessels (OPV) transferred equipment and key personnel in the early hours. This was followed by an exchange of ceremonial salutes before each of the OPV’s proceeded in opposite route directions.

L.E. Niamh dating from 2001, has completed her search and rescue (SAR) duties of refugees and migrants and was heading west bound in the Mediterranean. She is expected back at the Naval Base in Haulbowline, Cork Harbour this Friday.

Since departing Irish waters in July, L.E. Niamh has served with international navies to assist SAR missions under the authority of the Italian Navy. This has seen numerous SAR calls involving overcrowded and unseaworthy boats trafficking people.

Replacing L.E. Niamh is her successor, L.E. Samuel Beckett which is an enhanced version of the second ‘Roisin’ class OPV80 series. The ‘Beckett’ only entered service last year and forms the leadship of the trio of OPV90 class ordered from a UK shipyard.

The €54m vessel is making an eastbound voyage so to continue in the humanitarian role that was first undertaken earlier this year with the deployment of flagship. L.E. Eithne.

As reported today, funding has been secured for the Defence Forces that is to include a replacement programme for the Naval Service with a second phase of new patrol vessels.

Two of the newbuilds are to be OPV’s. As for the third unit this is to be a multi role vessel (MRV) more like the ‘Eithne’ albeit not designed to the flagship’s Helicopter Patrol Vessel (HPV) early career role when she actually carried a helicopter. The MRV will be able at least to carry out ship to air-lift operations including freight.

The newbuilds are to replace an ageing trio, the above mentioned L.E Eithne and also dating from 1984, a pair of coastal patrol vessels, CPV’s L.E. Orla and sister L.E. Ciara.

For more about the latter CPV’s existing career following that carried out in warmer climes, Ships Monthly (current issue) features the former Royal Navy ‘Peacock’ class that began service in Hong Kong.

Published in Navy

#FundingDefence - A significant boost in capital funding across the Defence Forces has been welcomed by the Minister of Defence. The funding for the Defence Sector is contained in the Capital Plan as an important element of the implementation of the White Paper on Defence.

The €437m allocated to Defence, including an additional €65m over the 2016-2021 timeframe, will provide a major boost from a strategic perspective and it will allow Defence to make significant investments in equipment and infrastructure over the lifetime of the Capital Plan.

Overall, the Defence capital envelope for the period 2016-2021 is €437m. This allocation will facilitate strategic decisions on planning for ongoing investment in defence equipment and infrastructure, over the coming years. The recently published White Paper on Defence sets out Ireland’s defence policy framework for the next decade. It has identified the increasingly complex nature of security threats in the world today and the associated capability requirements. It sets out proposals for the replacement of major equipment platforms over the next decade and other priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service, in accordance with capability requirements.

The funding allocated in this Capital Plan will play a vital role is ensuring that the priorities identified in the White Paper can be met and that the Defence Forces can deliver fully on the roles assigned by Government. The duration of the plan, 2016 to 2021, is particularly significant in allowing for strategic medium-term planning so critical in the Defence environment.

While specific investment decisions, as prioritised in the White Paper, are still at the planning stage, the broad areas in which these capital funds will be invested are as follows:-

• Replacement programmes for defensive equipment for the Naval Service (as previously reported on Afloat.ie) across the Army and the Air Corps, including payments arising under the Naval Vessel replacement programme;

• Investment in Defence Forces Built Infrastructure including refurbishment of the Defence property portfolio and provision of replacement and additional facilities where required;

• Development of an international facility at the UN Training School in the Curragh – to facilitate training in peace support and in conflict resolution;

• Purchase of new and replacement Information and Communication Technology hardware across the Department and the Defence Forces.

Published in Navy

#Beckett2Med - Due to depart her base in Haulbowline, Co Cork, this morning, LÉ Samuel Beckett (P61) is to take over refugee rescue missions in the Mediterranean from LÉ Niamh.

According to The Irish Examiner, it’s expected that she will take a week to get to her area of operations between Sicily and Libya and prior to starting her mission, her 59-strong crew under the command of Lieutenant Commander Anthony Geraghty, will get a briefing from the Italian authorities in Sicily.

Meanwhile, LÉ Niamh’s crew have finished their mission and are currently enjoying some R&R in the Maltese capital Valletta.

Yesterday the crew hosted a reception for the Irish ambassador and they will depart for home on Saturday. Depending on weather she should arrive in Haulbowline on Friday, October 2.

Both ships will rendezvous somewhere near Gibraltar in the coming days, where some personnel and equipment will be transferred between them.

For much more on the refugee migrant crisis, click here.

Published in Navy

#CadetClass- Simon Coveney, Minister for Defence, this morning attended a Naval Service Commissioning Ceremony of the 53rd Naval Service Cadet Class.

The event took place at the Naval Base, in Haulbowline, Co. Cork, where the Minister offered his congratulations to the newly commissioned officers and remarked that “I offer my warmest congratulations to all of you for the commitment you are making to the State. Each one of you, together with your families and friends, can be justifiably proud of your achievement”.

Minister Coveney also paid tribute to the ongoing humanitarian work being carried out by the Naval Service in the Mediterranean “The actions of both the LÉ Eithne and LÉ Niamh have highlighted the capability and commitment that has always been the hallmark of Ireland’s Naval Service”.

The Minister said that the L.É. Samuel Beckett will be deployed to the Mediterranean from the end of September until the end of November this year and stated that “The people of Ireland can truly be proud of the marvellous work the Naval Service has done and is continuing to do and I wish them every continued success with their work”.

Published in Navy

#navy – L.É. Niamh under the command of her captain, Lieutenant Commander Daniel Wall departs the Naval Base, Haulbowline this evening, en route for the Mediterranean to assist the Italian authorities in the humanitarian operation to rescue migrants fleeing North Africa.
The Minister for Defence, Mr. Simon Coveney, T.D., had announced earlier this month that L.É. Niamh would deploy to the Mediterranean to continue Ireland's contribution to the search and rescue mission. L.É. Eithne has spent the past eight weeks in the Mediterranean and has set out on her return to Irish shores. A total of 3,377 people have been rescued by L.É. Eithne from the waters between Libya and Sicily.
Defence Minister Simon Coveney said "I had the opportunity of visiting L.É. Eithne last Tuesday. I conveyed to the personnel our deep appreciation for the outstanding manner in which they performed their duties on overseas service on behalf of the Government and the people of Ireland. I am pleased to be here today to convey my appreciation to you, in advance of your deployment."
L.É. Niamh with a crew of 55 Naval Service personnel and 2 medics from the Army Medical Corps will continue the remarkable work started by L.É. Eithne. The Minister went on to say "L.É. Niamh is expected to be deployed in the Mediterranean until September, dependent on the operational demands and requirements arising."
The Minister concluded by saying "I want to wish Lieutenant Commander Daniel Wall and the crew of L.É. Niamh a safe and successful mission. You are travelling to the Mediterranean with my best wishes and with those of the rest of the nation."

Published in Navy
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