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Displaying items by tag: naval service

#CommodoreBrett – In the obituaries page of The Irish Times: Commodore Liam Brett who has died aged 86, retired as the head of the Irish Navy in 1990.

As a seafarer, he was renowned for his ship handling and his ability to manoeuvre and turn vessels in the tightest of locations. As an officer, he was seen as firm but fair. In his leadership he displayed understanding and compassion and he enjoyed the respect of those he commanded.

William John Brett was born into a farming family in Cappauniac, Cahir, Co Tipperary, the second youngest of the 11 children of Thomas Brett and Bridget Pyne. After primary education at Ballydrehid National School, Kilmoyler, he attended the Christian Brothers School in Tipperary town.

He entered the Irish Naval Service in 1947, and joined the the Naval cadet class a year after the establishment of the service, at a time when training meant moving to the centre of British naval education on the south coast of England – a long way from his landlocked native county.

He received his midshipman training with the Royal Navy at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. Sea time on board British ships allowed him to travel widely, from the home waters around Europe as far afield as Hong Kong, gaining valuable experience in the years immediately after the second World War.

For more about his career involving corvettes and the capture of the 'Claudia' click here.

Published in Navy

#Navy - An offer to purchase the decommissioned Naval Service vessel LÉ Aoife for half a million euro was not taken up by the Government, it has emerged.

RTÉ News reports that a Waterford-based marine engineer made the offer on behalf of a Dutch client with a view to using the OPV for security operations in Africa.

The deal, offered over a year ago, would have been worth far more than the €320,000 for which her sister ship LÉ Emer sold at auction in 2013.

That vessel was recommissioned last month into the Nigerian Navy as NNS Prosperity.

But the prospective purchasers say they never heard back from the Department of Defence, and only learned of the State's donation of the LÉ Aoife to Malta through the media.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE.

Published in Navy
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#Navy - Forty-three new Naval Service recruits join a sea defence fleet that's "the most modern in its history", as the Irish Examiner reports from this week's passing out parade.

The 41 men and two woman saluted their commanding Flag Officer Hugh Tully at the ceremony at Naval Service Headquarters on Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour on Thursday 12 March.

Awards were also presented to the new class, including best shot (to 26-year-old Gary O'Connor), best kit (to 27-year-old Darren Lawlor) and best recruit, which went to 25-year-old local man Shane Downey.

The Irish Examiner has more on the story HERE.

Published in Navy
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#AoifesFate? – Aoife's fate still remains as the former Naval Service OPV is according to the Department of Defence in active discussions with the Maltese authorities, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The department added, that negotiations in relation to the modalities to be agreed in relation to the transfer of ownership of the decommissioned LÉ Aoife (P22).

Should the 1979 built Aoife head for a new career in the Med with the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) naval squadron (and despite the 'junk' comments) one of new roles would be to assist in the humanitarian crisis.  

Be it to deploy 'Aoife' to assist in the effort to rescue refugees fleeing worn-torn regions of North Africa and beyond. In addition to migrants seeking a better life in Europe having taken to the water on boats also organised by people-traffickers.

Could this be somewhat full-circle for the former Naval Service patrol-ship? As the following is a piece I wrote for the Maritime Institute of Ireland's (National Maritime Museum of Ireland) Newsletter Winter 2003/04 and under the heading: Uniquely 'Unique'.

The story read: When going to work on November 5th, I noticed an unusual looking vessel at anchor south-east of Dun Laoghaire in Dublin Bay.The ship was a small coaster and of some vintage too and had characteristics unusual for ships calling to Dublin Bay these days.

It transpired that the vessel, the Mongolian registered 'Unique' was suspected of people-trafficking, as widely reported by the media. This activity turned out to be the first suspected incident of such a case in Irish waters.

The Naval Service L.E. Aoife arrived on November 6th in order to undertake inspections on board the Unique.

Despite searches of the ship and crew, no illegal persons or contraband where found. The Unique was subsequently escorted to Dublin Port on November 13th by the L.E. Ciara.

An Admiralty Court order for non-payment of wages for the crew of Unique were issued on behalf of the International Transport Federation (ITF).

It is now ironic to reflect on that historic incident of suspected people-trafficking and to have involved the deployment of L.E. Aoife from the 8-strong naval fleet.

As the Aoife is no longer in service, the fleet is reduced to 7 patrol vessels until newbuild OPV90 class James Joyce (on sea-trials) enters service this Spring?

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, Cork County Councillors call for Aoife to remain in the southern city as a floating museum. This would see the former OPV vessel as a museum near the Naval Service Base on Haulbowline, Cork Harbour, in the face of what's been taken as a "snub" by the Maltese.

A similar idea to keep Aoife in Irish waters was floated previously by a lobby group in Waterford. They campaigned for the veteran vessel to be kept along Waterford's quays and during her Naval Service days they designated the OPV's adopted 'homeport' to be that city. Aptly the south-eastern city is to where her decommissioning took place in January.

Aoife is currently berthed at the Naval Base. As for her exact location at the HQ's island complex, it is understood she is berthed within the Naval Basin alongside the former Irish Steel Plant. It is from this western quay of the basin is where the steel-plant received cargoships with scrap metal! 

So watch this space and to wherever next?

Published in Navy

#JamesJoyce – James Joyce began builders sea-trials today, she is the second of a trio of OPV90 class newbuilds ordered by the Department of Defence from a UK shipyard, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat.ie has confirmed from the Department that an indicative date for the handover of the yet to be commissioned James Joyce will not be available until the sea trials are completed. She is to directly replace the decommissioned Aoife. 

It is understood that James Joyce departed in the early hours of this morning from Appledore, north Devon from where she was built by Babcock Marine & Technology.

The yard on the banks of the River Torridge is from where her predecessor, leadship LÉ Samuel Beckett (P61) was also floated-out in late 2013.

On that occasion the inaugural newbuild also carried similar trials in the Bristol Channel which took place almost a year ago. 

As recently reported, LÉ Samuel Beckett is undergoing annual maintenance works at Cork Dockyard.

A final sister also costing €54m was added to the original order for the first pair. The unnamed third newbuild will be launched from Appledore but not due for delivery until 2016. 

Published in Navy

#Asbestos- OPV90 class LÉ Samuel Beckett (P61) currently in Cork Dockyard for annual maintenance is where previously a pair of Naval Service CPV had asbestos removed early in the year, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Afloat.ie contacted the Department of Defence to comment on the current status of the CPV (Coastal Patrol Vessels). A spokesperson said that the Health & Safety Authority have indicated to the Naval Service that they are satisfied that all ship-related asbestos matters have been dealt with.

The cost to remove the dangerous material which was located in engine room spaces of the LÉ Orla (P41) and sister LÉ Ciara (P42) was in the region of €350,000.

Both CPV's had also undergone routine refit work at the dry-dock before returning last month to the Naval Base on Haulbowline, Cork Harbour, to where further works were carried out. 

LÉ Orla is expected to resume operations by mid-March and LÉ Ciara is also expected to re-enter service at the end of this month.

Published in Navy

#LÉAoife - Cork county councillors have called for the decommissioned LÉ Aoife to be turned into a floating museum after Maltese military brass branded the vessel as "junk".

"Past its sell by date" is how some members of Malta's armed forces see the 35-year-old OPV that's set to be gifted to the Mediterranean island country to shore up its naval capacity, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Now, Cork county mayor Alan Coleman has offered that a tourism group in Cork Harbour could take on the vessel as a museum near the Naval Service headquarters on Haulbowline, in the face of what's been taken as a "snub" by the Maltese.

According to the Irish Examiner, Mayor Coleman has the unanimous support of his council colleagues for the move to write to Marine and Defence Minister Simon Coveney and make a formal offer.

The mayor also expressed his surprise at the gifting of the LÉ Aoife when her sister ship the LÉ Emer was sold at auction for €320,000.

Jehan Ashmore writes more on the fate of the LÉ Aoife HERE.

Published in Navy

#AoifeFuture? Should the 'Aoife' set sail for sunnier climes in Malta, despite previous reports of disquiet from Mediterranean military quarters, she would become the island state's largest naval unit, writes Jehan Ashmore.

As flagship, she potentially faces the harsh realities of the growing refugee crisis as people flee war-torn regions across North Africa and also the Middle East.

The Verolme Cork Dockyard OPV L.E. Aoife (P22), custom built in 1979 for the Naval Service has been the longest serving patrol vessel spanning 35 years until decommissioned in her 'adopted' homeport in Waterford last month.

Her possible role in the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) naval squadron would be to serve in a fleet that is larger than the Naval Service now reduced from 8 to 7 vessels.

The AFM' naval fleet are mostly high-speed yet small inshore patrol boats (IPV) that are strategically positioned in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea. However, there have been calls from a lobby group to keep the Aoife as a museum ship tourist and educational attraction in Waterford City.

Aoife which has a displacement of 1,019 tonnes and a length of 65.5m, would according to the Maltese Government address a shortfall in the capability of having a longer range vessel and given the country's role in UN mandated missions.

Both Irish and Maltese military have shown increased defence co-operation having recently completed a joint exercise as part of an EU training mission in Somalia. Maltese army personnel would be provided peace-keeping training courses from Ireland as part of the deal with Aoife's gifting to Malta.

The transfer of Aoife to Malta, would be a stop gap measure as their navy are to acquire a new OPV but not due for another four years.

By coincidence, another Maltese naval patrol ship with the same pennant number of the former Aoife's P22 already exists as a unit within a quartet of albeit smaller 21m IPV's of only 40 tonnes displacement. Funding for these inshore Austal built aluminium craft came from the European Union External Borders Fund.

While the largest vessel of the Malta Navy fleet is an OPV with the pennant number (P61) which is another coincidence given the same number is also designated to the Irish Naval Service's newest built OPV90 leadship, L.E. Samuel Beckett. Second sister of the trio ordered, 'James Joyce' is to directly replace the Aoife and is due for delivery within months.

When commissioned, the Babcock Marine built newbuild from Appledore in the UK will be designated pennant number P62. As for the yet to announced name for the final OPV due in 2016 and as the P63.

As for the largest Maltese patrol vessel commissioned in 2005, the single P61 class OPV has a 399 displacement and is based from the design of an Italian Coast Guard class 54m cutter. However, she unlike the Aoife, has the advantage of a helicopter deck in addition to a stern ramp for launching a 7 metre RHIB. 

This capability along with some other classes can easily deploy a fast-response rescue RIB for the humanitarian crisis. The lack of this feature on the Aoife has been raised as a concern by certain quarters of the navy and by the Maltese media. 

With continued negotiations underway between Irish and Maltese departments of Defence, Aoife and 'P71' painted across her bows?

Published in Navy

#LEAoife - Ireland's donation of the LE Aoife to Malta is not going down well with military authorities in the Mediterranean island country, according to The Irish Times.

Days ago it was reported that Ireland would be donating the decommissioned Irish Naval Service OPV to help address a shortfall in Malta's current naval capacity as it faces a growing humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean.

But it's now emerged that members of Malta's armed forces view the 35-year-old vessel as "past its sell by date", with one retired serviceman saying it "sets a very very bad precedent for other junk to follow being dumped on us."

The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.

Published in Navy

The death has taken place of Commodore (Retired) Liam Brett, former Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service. Commodore Brett was instrumental in the expansion of the Naval Service beginning with the L.É. DEIRDRE in the early 1970s.

He was pivotal in the operations to detain the "Claudia" and the "Marita Anne" IRA gun running ships in the 70s and 80s, and also the Aer Lingus Viscount and the Air India recovery operations in his earlier years before commanding the Naval Service as Flag Officer until 1990.

He retired from the Naval Service after a 44 year career and is survived by his four children, son in law and five grand children.

Published in Navy
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Fastnet Yacht Race 

This race is both a blue riband international yachting fixture and a biennial offshore pilgrimage that attracts crews from all walks of life:- from aspiring sailors to professional crews; all ages and all professions. Some are racing for charity, others for a personal challenge. For the world's top professional sailors, it is a 'must-do' race. For some, it will be their first-ever race, and for others, something they have competed in for over 50 years! The race attracts the most diverse fleet of yachts, from beautiful classic yachts to some of the fastest racing machines on the planet – and everything in between. The testing course passes eight famous landmarks along the route: The Needles, Portland Bill, Start Point, the Lizard, Land’s End, the Fastnet Rock, Bishop’s Rock off the Scillies and Plymouth breakwater (now Cherbourg for 2021 and 2023). After the start in Cowes, the fleet heads westward down The Solent, before exiting into the English Channel at Hurst Castle. The finish is in Plymouth, Devon via the Fastnet Rock, off the southern tip of Ireland.

  • The leg across the Celtic Sea to (and from) the Fastnet Rock is known to be unpredictable and challenging. The competitors are exposed to fast-moving Atlantic weather systems and the fleet often encounter tough conditions
  • Flawless decision-making, determination and total commitment are the essential requirements. Crews have to manage and anticipate the changing tidal and meteorological conditions imposed by the complex course
  • The symbol of the race is the Fastnet Rock, located off the southern coast of Ireland. Also known as the Teardrop of Ireland, the Rock marks an evocative turning point in the challenging race
  • Once sailors reach the Fastnet Rock, they are well over halfway to the finish in Plymouth.
  • The lighthouse first shone its light on New Year’s Day in 1854
    Fastnet Rock originally had six keepers (now unmanned), with four on the rock at a time with the other two on leave. Each man did four weeks on, two weeks off

At A Glance – Fastnet Race

  • The world's largest offshore yacht race
  • The biennial race is 605 nautical miles - Cowes, Fastnet Rock, Plymouth
  • A fleet of over 400 yachts regularly will take part
  • The international fleet is made up of over 26 countries
  • Multihull course record: 1 day, 8 hours, 48 minutes (2011, Banque Populaire V)
  • Monohull course record: 1 day, 18 hours, 39 minutes (2011, Volvo 70, Abu Dhabi)
  • Largest IRC Rated boat is the 100ft (30.48m) Scallywag 100 (HKG)
  • Some of the Smallest boats in the fleet are 30 footers
  • Rolex SA has been a longstanding sponsor of the race since 2001
  • The first race was in 1925 with 7 boats. The Royal Ocean Racing Club was set up as a result

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