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A German-registered Spanish vessel which was involved in a confrontation off the Scottish coast over two years ago has been detained by the Naval Service off the southwest coast.

The 26m Pesorsa Dos was detained last Saturday (January 21) by the LE George Bernard Shaw, but it took several days to haul its gear before it could be escorted into Castletownbere, Co Cork yesterday (Thurs Jan 26).

It is also understood that the fishing vessel’s boarding ladder broke when the Naval Service patrol crew was trying to gain access to the vessel.

The same vessel from La Coruna in northern Spain was previously detained in the Irish exclusive economic zone, 250 miles north of Donegal’s Malin Head, in July 2020.

The LE George Bernard ShawThe LE George Bernard Shaw

A Naval Service spokeswoman confirmed that a German-registered vessel was being escorted to port but could not confirm where the detention occurred, beyond stating it was “within the Irish exclusive economic zone”.

The spokeswoman could not give details on the nature of the alleged infringements.

In June 2020, the Spanish-owned vessel was accused of attempting to foul the propellor of Shetland-owned demersal trawler, Alison Kay, some 30 miles west of the Shetland Islands, by towing a heavy warp across its track.

The British authorities said they could not investigate the incident as it was outside the 12 nautical mile limit. It occurred just a month before its detention in Irish waters.

Navy staff shortages

Recruitment and staffing shortages mean that the Naval Service will only have four operational patrol vessels from next week, the Department of Defence has confirmed.

It has confirmed that two patrol ships, LÉ Roisín and LÉ Niamh, are being put into “operational reserve”, and the fleet will be down to four ships from February 1st.

“The decision to place the LÉ Roisín and LÉ Niamh into operational reserve is aimed at stabilising operational delivery and assisting in Naval Service regeneration which entails the prioritisation of personnel training and development of existing Naval Service personnel,” the department said.

“The Naval Service is satisfied that, notwithstanding the withdrawal from operational duties of the LÉ Roisin, they will be able to fulfil their current maritime security and defence commitments, including commitments provided for under the current service level agreement with the Sea Fisheries Protection Agency,” the department said.

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The Naval Service recorded three detentions during 350 fisheries-related inspection boardings last year in the Irish exclusive economic zone.

A review of 2022 released by the Defence Forces press office said that fishing vessels from Ireland, Britain, France, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, and Belgium were boarded and inspected in 2022.

Working with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, the Naval Service patrols 220 million maritime acres of sea (over twelve times the land mass of Ireland), representing 15% of Europe’s fisheries, the press office said.

The Naval Service Dive Section was deployed on four occasions last year, with operations including search and rescue and recovery of missing persons, it said.

There were five separate search and rescue responses from the Naval Service in 2022, while the joint task force on drugs was also “operational”. The task force involves the Naval Service, Air Corps, Revenue Commissioners and Garda Siochána.

Naval Service ships and crew were also involved in ten foreign visits last year to Britain, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, the US and Canada.

The Air Corps responded to more than 415 emergency aeromedical services (EAS) missions last year.

Its Athlone helicopter base supports the National Ambulance Service (NAS) in providing a medical service for seriously ill patients. Its air crew also carried out 49 inter-hospital air ambulance tasks both nationally and internationally to Britain and Europe.

Over 450 hours of maritime surveillance patrol flights were recorded by the Air Corps.

Its aircraft responded to several requests to provide aerial fire-fighting in Mayo, Wicklow and Dublin to protect property in an “aid to civil power” role.

It also continued to support Garda Air Support Unit operations and provided flights “as required to the Garda to repatriate people who had been the subject of “EU removal and exclusion orders”,the press office said.

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A local Government TD says he’s “confident” that Galway will be chosen to host a new naval base for an expanded Irish Navy.

Speaking to Galway Talks yesterday, Defence Minister Simon Coveney confirmed a new base will be sited along the west coast as part of plans to radically increase spending.

He said while Galway is in the running, it could be located anywhere between Galway and Donegal.

But Fine Gael Deputy Ciaran Cannon believes Galway is the most logical choice.

Meanwhile, a Dun Laoghaire TD has repeated her call this week for the 'underutilised' Dun Laoghaire Harbour on Dublin Bay to be a base for the Navy in the capital's waters.

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Irish Naval Service vessel LÉ Róisín (pictured above) will be docked in Britannia Quay, Cardiff Bay from 18th-20th July with members of the public able to come on board.

The ship, constructed at Appledore Shipyards in Devon, and crew are usually patrolling the high seas.

However, they will be docked in Cardiff Bay to host a range of events in collaboration with the Consulate General of Ireland. The visit will celebrate the strong Ireland - Wales relationship and in particular the recent establishment of the Irish Consulate.

LÉ Róisín will be based at Britannia Quay, Cardiff Bay, CF10 4PJ, a short walk from the Millennium Centre and Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament.

Members of the public are welcome to come onto the deck and receive tours of the ship.

The ship will be open for free public viewings from:

  • 14:00-17:00 - Monday 18th July
  • 10:00-12:00 - Tuesday 19th July
  • 14:00-17:00 - Tuesday 19th July

There will also be a crew member on the ground who will be able to talk about life on the ship with any visitors with mobility or accessibility requirements.

This is a rare opportunity to visit an Irish navy vessel, meet the crew, and learn about the Irish Defence Forces and their experiences of seafaring.

Commenting on the Irish Navy’s visit, Consul General of Ireland, Denise Hanrahan said:

“I am delighted that Cardiff Bay will be home to the Irish navy’s LÉ Róisín from the 18th to 20th of July.

We look forward to welcoming many visitors on board in celebration of the close connections between Wales and Ireland, and to express our appreciation for all the support we have had in establishing Ireland’s diplomatic presence in Wales.

Our maritime heritage and the Irish Sea are central to the diverse and vibrant cultural, economic and community relationships between Ireland and Wales.”

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Our Shared Ocean, a collaboration between Irish Aid-Department of Foreign Affairs and the Marine Institute, was launched in Lisbon yesterday by Irish Ambassador to Portugal, Ralph Victory, on board the Irish Naval Service Vessel, L.E. George Bernard Shaw, during the 2022 UN Ocean Conference.

Our Shared Ocean will provide €3.8 million over the next five years to facilitate partnerships on ocean-related issues between research institutions in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their counterparts in Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, Dr Niall McDonough, Director of Policy, Innovation and Research Services at the Marine Institute, said, "we are proud to launch the Our Shared Ocean programme on the occasion of the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon. This flagship programme will support the development of new knowledge and new partnerships between researchers in Small Island Developing States and Ireland. As island nations, Our Shared Ocean can help us work better together to address the common challenges presented by climate change and to find solutions to sustainably benefit from the enormous potential of our ocean and its resources."

Our Shared Ocean aims to:

  • Build the Irish capability and knowledge base in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals related to sustainable ocean management as set out in Global Ireland and the SIDS Strategy;
  • Support capacity building in eligible SIDS partner countries and in Ireland in Oceans and Climate Action, Inclusive and sustainable blue economy and Marine Policy and ocean governance.
  • Establish and grow research partnerships between Irish institutions and international counterparts, providing research and technical support to assist eligible SIDS in addressing specific ocean and climate related challenges and opportunities.

The Marine Institute have developed a suite of research funding instruments in order to achieve these objectives, via Mobility and Travel Grants; Fellowships and Research Projects; and direct contribution to international programmes supporting ocean capacity building in eligible SIDS, with the first calls being launched this month. The programme is a key element of Ireland's contribution to the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The launch of Our Shared Ocean in Lisbon also provided the opportunity to celebrate 80 years of relations between Ireland and Portugal. It recognised the strong marine links between the two countries, including through the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between the Marine Institute and the Instituto do Mar e da Atmosfera.

As Afloat reported earlier, The Fair Seas campaign has welcomed Ireland’s contribution of almost 10 million euro to address ocean challenges faced by developing countries, including small island developing states. The funding was confirmed earlier this week by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney on the eve of the UN Ocean Conference.

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Castletownbere RNLI was launched last night (Wednesday 09 March 2022) just after 22:00 to go to the assistance of a crewman onboard the Irish Navy vessel L.E. George Bernard Shaw who had become injured during sea exercises off the coast of West Cork.

Castletownbere lifeboat volunteer crew were requested to launch by Valentia Coastguard Marine Coordination Centre to provide assistance to the man who was on board the naval vessel which was at anchor at Lawrence Cove off Bere Island in West Cork. The lifeboat was launched within minutes under the command of Coxswain Dean Hegarty with crew David O’Donovan, Martin Cronin, Dave Fenton, Seamus Harrington, Marc O’Hare and Donagh Murphy.

At 22:23 the lifeboat arrived on the scene and the conditions were described as very calm. The crewman was transferred by stretcher from the naval vessel to the lifeboat where he subsequently received casualty care. On arrival at Castletownbere RNLI Station at 22:56, the injured man was met by paramedics from the National Ambulance Service and he subsequently received medical assessment and attention.

Commenting on the callout Castletownbere RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Paul Stevens, stated: ‘Thankfully, this was a very straightforward call out and everything went very smoothly – we wish the injured crewman a full and speedy recovery’.

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An exhibition about the Naval Service has opened at the Passage West Maritime Museum, recounting how the Cork Harbour village has been a strong provider of Navy personnel.

Intriguingly, it includes a detailed account of 21 years’ service by local man Jim McIntyre, who enlisted at the age of 15 in October 1956. Recalling the days of corvettes and minesweepers, bought from the Royal Navy, he recounts that “crews were scarce in those days.”

Naval Exhibition at Passage West MuseumNaval Exhibition at Passage West Museum

That challenge faces the Naval Service again today, pointed out at the opening of the exhibition which follows the Commission on the Defence Forces Review that highlighted the need to increase personnel and ships.

Jim Mcintyre in the Engine Room of L.E.Maev in 1964Jim Mcintyre in the Engine Room of L.E.Maev in 1964

The Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, Michael Malone, accepts that this is a challenging time for the Service. “But we have seen peaks and troughs over the years. People are slow to engage in joining the defence forces, but we will turn that corner. We will get the personnel we need. Seagoing is something you have to be dedicated to. We will get the personnel we need,” he told me in an interview at the Naval Base.

Podcast below

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The Naval Service and Air Corps say they have observed north America, Russian and French vessels both inside and outside Ireland's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) over the past week.

These observations include two Russian warships within the Irish EEZ and a third warship believed to be a NATO vessel.

In footage captured between January 31st and February 3rd, the Defence Forces press office say they have also observed a British RAF combat aircraft south-east of and outside the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The international naval vessels are transmitting on the automatic identification system (AIS) and are outside Irish territorial waters – as in the 12- mile limit – the press office states.

Russian Vessel EKHOROVRussian Vessel EKHOROV

The Defence Forces press office says that this activity is “in line with UN Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS) rules for transit through international waters”.

French Navy 793French Navy 793

It says that under UNCLOS, there is “no restriction on warships operating on the high seas inside and outside of EEZs”.

US Navy 80US Navy 80

This point has been disputed this week by Prof Clive Symmons of Trinity College, Dublin, who is an international maritime law expert, and who says Ireland is within its rights to decline requests for military exercises within its EEZ.

However, military ships are allowed a right of freedom of passage under UNCLOS, he says.

RAF Eurofighter TyphoonRAF Eurofighter Typhoon

Images were taken by the Air Corps Casa maritime patrol aircraft “Charlie 252” include a number of US, Russian, French and UK warships south-east of and outside Irish EEZ during daylight hours between January 31st and February 3rd.

RAF Eurofighter Typhoon jets were observed in the vicinity of these ships, and the Naval Service patrol ship LE Samuel Beckett was in the area.

Russian vessel 055Russian vessel 055

During nighttime on the same dates, “Charlie 252” observed two Russian warships within Ireland’s EEZ, and a “third warship also in the vicinity which is believed to be a NATO vessel”.

Russian vessel 461Russian vessel 461

All footage and images were taken between 31 Jan - 03 Feb 2022.

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The actor Niamh Cusack temporarily enlisted with the Naval Service to give a professional reading of a significant poem on board the L.É.James Joyce while alongside Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

Her nuanced, balanced and knowing delivery of the work, recorded by the Defence Forces Audio Visual Section, can be viewed below.

For this phase of the Naval Service’s 75th Anniversary year, a poem submitted by a serving member of the Navy was selected by Naval Headquarters to mark the occasion.

The poem is entitled ‘Statio Bene Fida Carinis’ (Latin for ‘A Place Most Suitable For Ships’). It envisages the Navy’s fleet circumnavigating Ireland from its Base in Cork Harbour, touching on Irish maritime historical and mythological events en route.

The poem makes the point that Ireland’s maritime tradition spans the centuries.

More from the Dublin Gazette here.

Published in Navy

“We are mission ready and interoperable with international Navies at home and overseas,” the Naval Service, which celebrated its 75th year of foundation this year, says in the Defence Forces ‘Year in Review’ annual report issued today.

It records a ‘first’ for the Service this year: “In April the Naval Service achieved NATO accreditation by completing the OCC self-evaluation. This was a first for the Service.”

The Navy arrested nine fishing boats during the year in 269 inspections. Irish, British, French, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Russian, Belgian and boats from the Faroes were inspected.

The full Maritime section of the report describes Naval activities in detail:

75th Anniversary - The Naval Service celebrated 75 years from its foundation this year. Various events culminated in September with fleet exercises, a review by An Taoiseach and a parade of sail into Dublin and Cork. Naval vessels were escorted by the Air Corps and Irish Coastguard and were met in Cork by their colleagues in the emergency services.

Fisheries - So far this year, the Naval Service has conducted 269 fisheries boarding’s resulting in nine (9) detentions. The Naval Service patrols 220 million maritime acres of sea (over twelve times the land mass of Ireland) representing 15% of Europe’s fisheries. Fishing vessels from Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Belgium and The Faroes were boarded and inspected in 2021.

NSDS - The Naval Service Dive Section (NSDS) was deployed to 20 operations so far this year. Military Operations include underwater maintenance of the Naval Service Fleet, maintenance of Service Level Agreements with External Agencies, and berth surveys/clearances for visiting ships. The Naval Service Dive Section was involved in one (1) Search and Recovery operation following a request from the Coast Guard. One (1) deceased individual was recovered in the process of this search and returned to their loved ones.

Search and Rescue (SAR) - There have been eleven (11) separate SAR responses from the NS this year, a number of them attracting media attention.

Protests - During 2021 there were some civilian protests at Cork and Dublin sea ports. The Naval Service provided Rigid Inflatable Boats and personnel providing a safety role.

NATO Operational Capability Concept (OCC) - In April of this year the Naval service achieved NATO accreditation by completing the OCC self-evaluation. This was a first for the Naval Service and ensures we are mission ready and interoperable with international navies at home and overseas.

Naval Service Variant DPM - On the 1st of May Naval Service Personnel changed over from the GDR rig to our new Naval Service DPM uniform. This uniform was the result of years of research and combines breathability and comfort with increased fire and safety properties while promoting the Defence Forces brand.

L.E.P - L.É ROISIN completed her Life Extension Programme (LEP) in April bringing to a close a 25-month long project which ensures the continued availability of key Naval Assets. Following suit, L.É NIAMH has now entered her LEP which will continue into 2022.

MAOC-N Medal - In October Cdr Cathal Power was awarded the MAOC-N medal in recognition of the work by the Naval Service Operations and Intelligence Team in countering drug trafficking. The Naval Service in conjunction with our Joint Task Force colleagues were instrumental in providing intelligence that led to major seizures by MAOC-N partner agencies this year.

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