Minister with responsibility for Defence, Mr Paul Kehoe TD, welcomed the arrival of the fourth new Offshore Patrol Vessel for the Irish Naval Service on Thursday, October 11, 2018.
The ship, which will be formally named and commissioned as LÉ George Bernard Shaw at a later date, arrived at the Naval Base in Haulbowline, Co Cork, after successfully completing its Sea Acceptance Trials.
These trials, which took place near Babcock Marine’s Appledore Shipbuilding Yard in Devon, United Kingdom, were attended by representatives from the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces.
Commenting on the arrival of the vessel, Minister Kehoe said it demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ongoing investment in the Defence Forces.
“In Budget 2019, we have committed to spend an additional €29m on capital projects,” he said.
“I look forward to the future commissioning of this vessel and its addition to the Naval Service fleet where it will be a key driver in the essential provision of defence capability in the maritime domain around our country.”
The arrival of the new vessel will result in six of the current Irish Naval Service fleet having been built in the Appledore facility.
Minister Kehoe acknowledged the relationship between the Defence Organisation and Babcock.
“I would like to compliment Babcock for their ability to produce very well designed and stylish ships with state of the art equipment which have already proven their value to the Naval Service both at home and on overseas missions,” he said.
The addition of the new ship will bring relief to older vessels and support a planned programme of refit and maintenance. LÉ Roisin and LÉ Niamh will receive significant mid-life refits in the period ahead.”
Minister Kehoe said the Department will continue to work closely with military management to address challenges in the Naval Service.
“The current strength of the Naval Service is just over 1,000 personnel and is at approximately 92% of its establishment of 1,094. There is ongoing recruitment to the Naval Service. Any challenges in delivering the full outputs across the Defence Forces are being managed and closely monitored by the Defence Forces and the Department of Defence under my direction on a daily basis.”
Note for Editors:
LÉ Roisin and LÉ Niamh were the first two ships built in the Appledore facility over sixteen years ago – both ships remain key elements of the Irish Naval Service fleet.
The current Naval Service ship replacement programme has seen the supply of four new Naval Service vessels since 2014.Three ships, LÉ Samuel Beckett (named and commissioned May 2014), LÉ James Joyce (named and commissioned September 2015) and LÉ William Butler Yeats (named and commissioned in October 2016) have been delivered and are in full operational service. The value of the three-ship contract was €199.4m, inclusive of VAT.
In June 2016 agreement was reached with Babcock International for the provision of an additional ship for the Naval Service to be built in their facility in Appledore, Devon. The ship will be the same class as LÉ Samuel Beckett, LÉ James Joyce and LÉ William Butler Yeats and is to be named LÉ George Bernard Shaw.
The agreed contract value for the further ship is €67m inclusive of VAT. This aligns with the project planning process in place under the White Paper on Defence, which will determine the Defence Organisation’s maritime capability requirements.
The addition of the latest ship is regarded as urgent and expedient given the age of several of the ships in the fleet, including LÉ Orla, LÉ Ciara and LÉ Eithne, all of which are well over thirty years of age. The additional ship will allow the Naval Service meet its patrol day targets with due cognizance to the significant operational requirements for the Naval fleet on overseas operations. There is an ongoing requirement to maintain and upgrade vessels having regard to emerging operational requirements and changes in technology and the LÉ Roisin and LÉ Niamh are scheduled to undergo a mid-life refit to extend the life of both vessels and to remove obsolescence.
Future Naval Service capabilities are planned as part of the White Paper on Defence project planning process which will determine the Defence Organisation’s maritime capabilities. The White Paper on Defence provides for the replacement of the current flagship, LÉ Eithne, by a multi-role vessel (MRV). LÉ Eithne was built in 1984. Planning has commenced on this project and it is intended to hold a public tender competition in due course to cover the supply of the MRV.
Budget 2019 makes provision for total capital spending of €106m in respect of defence equipment and upgrading of barracks – an increase of €29m on 2018.