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#BacktoMed - Plans have already been made by the Naval Service to send LÉ Roisin to the Mediterranean Sea writes The Irish Examiner, in the event the next government decides to renew last year’s humanitarian mission there.

News of the planned deployment came yesterday as crews from LÉ Eithne, LÉ Niamh and LÉ Samuel Beckett were accorded a civic reception in County Hall for saving the lives of 8,631 men, women and children.

Naval service top brass have been making preparations in recent weeks in anticipation that they will be called on again to aid ‘Operation Pontius,’ supporting the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre in rescuing migrants trying to cross into Europe from Libya.

Mayor of County Cork, Independent councillor John Paul O’Shea said on behalf of the people of Cork he wanted to thank the three ships’ crews for their phenomenal work and dedication.

To read more on the humanitarian deployments last year and the civic reception, click here.

Published in Navy

#OPVtwinning - L.É. James Joyce (P62) the Naval Service’s newest OPV90 / 'Beckett' class was twinned with the City of Waterford last Sunday, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The Port of Waterford was host to the event which saw Waterford City and County Council twin the L.É. James Joyce with the south-eastern maritime city. The €50 million newbuild was commissioned in September 2015 and replaced L.É. Aoife (P22) which too was twinned with the city and also from where she was decommissioned last year.

The morning twinning ceremony of L.É. James Joyce took place at the Frank Cassin Wharf on the City Quays, where the offshore patrol vessels career will be the focus of attention of the council and people.

Following the twinning, Mayor John Cummins hosted a ceremony at City Hall where among the attendees where Minister for Defence Simon Coveney, Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellet, Officer Commanding the L.E. James Joyce, Lieutenant Commander Brian Dempsey and crew of 44 personnel along with family members.

The twinning also consolidated an existing fundraising relationship between the Naval Service and staff from the Paediatric Ward at University Hospital Waterford, who also attended the ceremony.

During the weekend, the OPV was open to the public with tours of the newbuild built by Babcock Marine & Technology, Appledore Devon. This is where the final of three OPV90 class sisters, L.É. William Butler Yeats is under construction.

Published in Navy

#Navy2015- The humanitarian crisis that unfolded earlier this year, led to three Irish Naval Service ships deployed under 'Operation Pontus' to the Mediterranean supporting the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre with Search and Rescue assistance.

The total number rescued in 2015 by the men and women of Óglaigh na nÉireann was 8,631, sadly 39 bodies were also recovered. The Naval Service, on behalf of the Defence Forces, received the People of the Year Award for the mission in the Mediterranean in 2015.

Fisheries

Domestically, provisional figures indicate that the Naval Service has completed 1076 boardings and made 10 detentions so far in 2015 for alleged infringements of fishing regulations during their 1205 patrol days.

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, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Belgium and Denmark were boarded and inspected in 2015.

Specialist Dive Team Operations

The Specialist Naval Service Dive Team was deployed to 43 operations so far this year. Military Operations include underwater maintenance of Naval Service Fleet, sub-surface explosive ordnance disposal operations and berth clearances for visiting foreign warships.

The Naval Service Dive Team has been involved in 9 separate Search and Recovery operations following requests from the Coast Guard and An Garda Síochána, many of these operations lasting several days. The remains of six (6) individuals have been recovered in the process of these searches this year and returned to their loved ones.

They have also carried out four (4) searches on behalf of Customs & Excise, searching the hulls of suspect vessels entering our ports and conducted security/ berth clearance dives for visiting naval ships. This year the Naval Service Diving Section assisted with the annual conference for IDSA (International Diving Schools Association), which qualifies Naval Divers commercially in SCUBA and Surface Supplied Diving Equipment (SSDE).

Training Education and Innovation

The exchange programme with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) continued where RCN Officers embark on Naval Service vessels, honing their seamanship skills, primarily in the area of coastal navigation.

This mutual exchange programme has seen Irish Naval Officers undergo Fleet Navigation and Mine Clearance Diving Officer courses in Canada during 2015.

Training support was provided to the Maritime Squadron from Malta in preparation for the successful handover / takeover of the (former) Irish Naval Service vessel the LÉ Aoife (P22).

This training support will continue into 2016. As per the UK/Irl Bilateral Agreement on Defence Cooperation (signed in Jan 2015), training exchange initiatives were undertaken with the UK Royal Navy to increase inter-operability and these will continue in 2016.

Educational initiatives during 2015 focused on meeting the requirements of our new ship technologies and on bringing leading edge research at the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) into the classroom.

The ‘Aeolus 1’ and ‘Aeolus 11’ research projects focusing on the use of kite technology at sea continue to progress in cooperation with the Halpin Research Institute, NIMBUS centre and IMERC (Irish Maritime Energy and Resource Cluster) partners.

Harnessing our Ocean Wealth (HOOW) ‘Seafest’ was hosted in July in collaboration with the Marine Institute and CIT and this also included the opening of the UCC Beaufort Centre in Ringaskiddy. HOOW encompassed more than 150 maritime industrial, commercial, academic and research partner’s interacting to promote national and international maritime development for Ireland. An estimated 8,500 members of the public also attended the event. The Beaufort Centre incorporates the largest seawater test tanks in Europe and houses over 120 top-level maritime energy researchers.

The Naval Service, as a partner in IMERC, was pleased to note the opening in 2015 of the EntrepreneurShip, a business incubation hub in IMERC, designed to support and spin-out/ spin –in business enterprises related to the research and maritime innovation with which the NS is involved.

Published in Navy

#BeckettReturns - As LÉ Samuel Beckett (P61) docked in Haulbowline, Co Cork yesterday, sailors were reunited with families just in time for Christmas, after a successful mission in the Mediterranean which involved saving the lives of 1,088 migrants.

Commanding officer Lieutenant Commander Tony Geraghty said the crew got in the festive spirit in the last few days of their mission with a full-scale Christmas playlist on rotation on board the ship.

“The atmosphere on board has been fabulous the last couple of days. People smiling from ear to ear. People playing Christmas music. We were playing ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ by Chris Rea earlier today. That was fabulous. It’s a great day. It is a really important day for the families.”

For much more The Irish Examiner has the story accompanied by photos of crew members meeting families at the naval base, click here.

Published in Navy

#BeckettReturns - LÉ Samuel Becket (P61) has returned to Irish waters having completed her humanitarian role in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Commodore Hugh Tully, Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service is to visit the crew of the leadship OPV90 class which arrived in Cork Harbour this morning.

It is understood her last port of call was Malaga, Spain having sailed from duties in the central Mediterranean where she was heavily involved in rescuing refugees from unseaworthy small craft off the coast of Libya. 

LÉ Samuel Beckett is this morning to berth at Haulbowline Naval Base from where she departed on deployment in September. Onboard are a crew of 58 who were joined for the humanitarian mission by two medics from the Army and the Air Corps.

The Naval Service OPV successfully rescued 1,088 people over the course of five operations in co-operation with the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre.

As previously reported, the Government may deploy another naval vessel  in early 2016 to assist with the ongoing crisis.

 

Published in Navy

#FourthMedShip? - Another Naval Service ship to the Mediterranean may be sent by the Government early next year to assist with the ongoing refugee crisis after the LE Samuel Beckett completes its current tour of duty later this month, according to Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney.

Mr Coveney said the LE Samuel Beckett is due back at Naval Service HQ in Haulbowline on December 17th and a full assessment will be undertaken then on the mission which has seen the LE Samuel Beckett, the LE Eithne and the LE Niamh rescue some 8,631 refugees to date.

“I would be expecting to send a ship out at the end of February/early March next year - that would be the expectation but obviously that will be a government decision and in all likelihood it will be a new government at that stage,” he said.

To read more, The Irish Times reports also reports on possible Defence Forces deployments elsewhere.

Published in Navy

#InflatableRaft - Following an intense spate of rescuing refugees last week, LÉ Samuel Beckett carried out its latest mission in the Mediterranean yesterday when 111 people were found in an inflatable raft off Libya.

At 05:39 am Irish time the LÉ Samuel Beckett began a search and rescue (SAR) operation 32 nautical miles off the north African coast following a task assigned to the OPV by the Italian Marine Rescue Co-ordination Centre (IMRCC) to investigate an inflatable rubber craft.

At the scene, the LÉ Samuel Beckett took on board 111 people (107 males and 4 females)*. The SAR was completed at 08.34am. All people embarked are receiving food, water and medical attention where required.

Figures for yesterday's operation are provisional until they are confirmed by the Italian authorities.

Since the LÉ Samuel Beckett was deployed to the Mediterranean in late September for 'Operations Pontus',  the OPV has rescued a total 977 people (not including yesterday's SAR mission).

The leadship of the OPV90 / Beckett class is third Irish Naval Service vessel to deploy to the area of operations. The OPV has a crew of 59 personnel, including an Army and Air Corps medic and is commanded by Lieutenant Commander Anthony Geraghty.

Published in Navy

#BeckettRescues- Following yesterday's rescue by LÉ Samuel Beckett and in the transfer off 99 people to MSF Dignity 1 off Tripoli, Libra, the OPV was involved today in further humanitarian missions in the Mediterranean Sea.

This brings to a total of three consecutive days that the Naval Service has successfully carried out search and rescue (SAR) operations off the failed North Africa state.

At 4.10 am Irish time today, the LÉ Samuel Beckett located an un-seaworthy craft carrying 108* people 60 kilometres east north east of Tripoli. The LÉ Samuel Beckett was appointed on scene coordinator and using their rigid hull inflatable boats (rhibs) transferred the 108 people to the MV Bourbon Argos.

Upon completion at 7.20 am the LÉ Samuel Beckett located another vessel brought 119* persons on board from a rubber craft.

On Wednesday, at 8.15 am Irish time, the LE Samuel Beckett was appointed on scene coordinator for SAR operations 87 kilometres east north east of Tripoli, Libya.

On this first SAR of the three days of operations, the OPV with assistance from the Italian ITN Aliseo and its helicopter assets directed the Medicins Sans Frontiére (MSF) vessel MV Dignity 1 which embarked 100 people, 27 of whom are women, 3 of whom are pregnant.

The LÉ Samuel Beckett is awaiting further direction for the Italian Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC.)

*Figures for today's operation are provisional until confirmed by the Italian authorities.

So far the LÉ Samuel Beckett has directly rescued 661 people since it's deployment, excluding today's figures.

Previous to the LÉ Samuel Beckett's deployment to the Mediterranean with OPERATION PONTUS, the LÉ Eithne & LÉ Niamh rescued 7,397 people.

Published in Navy

#CrewCommended - On a visit to Malta yesterday, Minister for Defence Simon Coveney visited L.É. Samuel Beckett currently deployed in the Mediterranean on humanitarian search and rescue operations.

Earlier in the day, the Minister met with EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella to discuss key issues in relation to fisheries and the increasing potential of the blue economy to contribute to national recovery and to the wider EU economy.

In the afternoon, the Minister visited L.É. Samuel Beckett berthed in Valetta for resupply and met with the ship’s captain, Lieutenant Commander Anthony Geraghty, and members of the crew to review the ongoing operation and to commend the important work they are doing in addressing the humanitarian fallout from the migrant crisis in the central Mediterranean.

The Minister was accompanied on his visit by Assistant Secretary General Ciaran Murphy and the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett.

Speaking to the crew on deck of L.É. Samuel Beckett, the Minister said: “While the tempo of operations in this part of the Mediterranean may have declined somewhat in the past few weeks, we cannot become complacent. As the sea condition worsens, there is an increasing risk for all those who embark on the dangerous journey from North Africa to Europe. We must continue to be ever vigilant to their plight and continue to operate to the highest standards to ensure as far as is humanly possible that all those at risk in this sea are rescued.”

L.É. Samuel Beckett replaced L.É. Niamh at the end of September and will continue Ireland’s contribution to the search and rescue mission up to December 2015, subject to ongoing assessment of the crisis and the operational need to continue to provide such assistance.

The operation is being conducted in close coordination with the Italian authorities. The vessel will not be replaced on withdrawal but a review of the mission to date and consideration of possible further participation in operations in the Mediterranean next year will be evaluated over the coming months.

L.É. Samuel Beckett with a crew of 59 Naval Service personnel including 4 Defence Forces medics drawn from the Army, Navy and Air Corps is continuing the remarkable work started by L.É. Eithne and continued by L.É. Niamh.

To date, L.É. Samuel Beckett has rescued 562 men women and children, bringing the total rescued by Naval Service vessels to date to nearly 8,100.

Addressing the crew directly the Minister said: “The work of the Naval Service to date, here in the Mediterranean, stands as testament to what a small committed country can do if there is the political will to respond. It’s not about being large or small but about commitment to serve. You, the members of this ship’s company, stand witness to the tragedy unfolding here in the Mediterranean. Not alone do you mount important rescue operations and bring hope to those you rescue, but you also focus the continuing attention of Irish and international public opinion on this crisis. I have no doubt, but that in the best traditions of the Naval Service and of the Defence Forces you will continue to do your duty.”

Minister Coveney concluded “Migration is a major challenge confronting the EU and there are no easy answers. However, Ireland is committed to doing its part as a committed member of the Union in responding to that crisis. You are a key part of that national response and, on behalf of myself and the Irish Government, I would like to thank you all for your outstanding work in the Mediterranean to date. I wish you every success for the future and a safe return to your families.”

Published in Navy

#NavalTwinning – The Munster Express writes that Waterford City and County Councillor Eddie Mulligan, has called for the twinning of Irish Navy’s newest vessel with the city.

The twinning of LE James Joyce with Waterford city the councillor said was to ‘revive a unique bond that exists between ship and the city’.

The LE Aoife, the last navy ship to be twinned with the city, was decommissioned in January (not May, Afloat adds) before it was presented to the Maltese Government.

Commenting on the twining, Cllr Mulligan stated: “In 1998 Waterford City and the Navy began a 17-year relationship that would see the LE Aoife visit the city on numerous occasions.

Click here for more on the proposed twinning of the OPV that was commissioned and named in Dun Laoghaire Harbour in September.

Published in Navy
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