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Displaying items by tag: Mark Mellett

The Russian military exercises which had been due to take place within Ireland’s Exclusive Economic Zone ( EEZ) raise some serious questions, according to former Defence Forces chief of staff Mark Mellett.

Mellett believes the Russian Federation’s original plan was intended to “unsettle the EU”, while showing an “utter disregard for Irish sovereign rights”, for Irish defence forces, the rights of fishers and protection of the environment.

He said the exercises' timing, with severe tension over Russian military build-up on the border with Ukraine, was no accident.

"Mellett believes the Russian Federation’s original plan was intended to “unsettle the EU”

Maritime lawyer Prof Clive Symmons has said the government was wrong to state initially that it was powerless to prevent Russia holding exercises within the EEZ.

Symmons said the UN Law of the Sea Convention is a “grey area” when it comes to military exercises – as distinct from the right of innocent passage on the high seas, which is defined.

Map showing the area (in red) where Russia planned to conduct military manoeuvresMap showing the area (in red) where Russia planned to conduct military manoeuvres

However, he pointed out there are provisions for a state to protect its economic resources within an EEZ.

The initial Russian plan some 240 km off the south coast– which was dropped after intervention by the Irish South and West Fish Producers’ Organisation and correspondence between Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and the Russian defence minister – was “unprecedented”, Mellett observed.

Speaking to Wavelengths on the issues raised, Mellett said that “greater complementarity” is required between the EU and Nato, which recognises member-state sovereignty. He also spoke about what this means for Ireland’s policy of neutrality.

You can listen to Wavelengths HERE

Published in Naval Visits

When Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett became head of our Defence Forces in September 2015, he was the first Navy officer to take the post.

The Mayo man, who learned to sail at Rosmoney and around Clew Bay’s islands, has served several times overseas with the UN and has a PhD in ocean governance. He is passionate about the sea and its potential, and about its future in an era of climate change. He has spoken in several recent issues about climate breakdown as our greatest threat, and climate justice as a major global issue.

Vice Admiral Mellett is due to retire in September, and will be succeeded by former Air Corps search and rescue pilot Major General Sean Clancy.

He spoke to Afloat about some of the issues he has dealt with – from the Defence Forces response to the Covid-19 pandemic to diversity and inclusion in the military.

LÉ James Joyce (P62) one of the Irish Navy's offshore patrol vesselsLÉ James Joyce (P62) one of the Irish Navy's offshore patrol vessels

“Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance,” he explains, emphasising the benefits to an organisation of diversity and “disruptive” thinking.

He also spoke about the ongoing issue of pay and retention within the Defence Forces.

“When I look at the quality and the loyalty and the dedication of our women and men within the Defence Forces, you could never pay them too much,” the outgoing chief of staff says.”They are extraordinary servants of the State...

Vice Admiral Mellett spoke about his future plans, and remembered how emotional he felt about looking in at the Mayo coast from the sea and not having a decent berth for a ship on his home coast.

The development of offshore renewable energy may be a gamechanger for west coast ports like Rossaveal and further north, he predicted.

I first asked him about that famous arrest at sea which he received a distinguished service medal for in 1994 – the capture the previous year of the drug-running ketch Brime.

Listen to Wavelengths HERE

Published in Wavelength Podcast
Tagged under

#Maritime - Ireland has been "sea-blind" for decades and needs a "strong maritime constituency" to make the most of our significant ocean and coastal resources, according to the nation's highest ranking naval officer.

Rear Admiral Mark Mellett DSM was speaking at the launch of a new book celebrating 25 years of RTÉ Radio's Seascapes programme at the National Maritime Museum in Dun Laoghaire last Monday 1 December.

Citing Ireland's mostly maritime jurisdiction - "three times the size of Germany, one million square kilometres, 92% of which is underwater... with trillions of euros of yet-to-be-found hydrocarbon and mineral resources" - he lamented that the nation had taken so long to embrace the sea.

"Over many decades, in my own view, in particular since the foundation of the State, we've been sea-blind. We haven't recognised our maritime heritage to the level that we should," said the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces.

"And that's why it's important that institutions like the Maritime Museum of Ireland have stood us in good stead by re-establishing our constituency, and more recently I'm delighted that Government from the centre, through Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, is driving that maritime constituency."

In particular, Admiral Mellett hailed "initiatives like the Irish Maritime and Energy Resource Cluster... [that] aim to establish at least 3,000 jobs in the maritime sector" in the coming years.

"But good governance needs a strong maritime constituency," he added. "And it needs champions... But more than that, it needs thought leaders, thought leaders like Tom MacSweeney, thought leaders like Lorna Siggins [Irish Times Marine Corr – Ed] and thought leaders like Marcus Connaughton, people who define and set the agenda in the maritime."

WM Nixon has much more on the Sailing By book launch in his latest blog entry HERE.

Published in News Update

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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