THE IRISH NAVAL Service vessels the LÉ Aoife and LÉ Emer were well known around the country – but the two latest vessels will be called decidedly more high-brow names.
The LÉ Aoife and Emer were both recently decommissioned, and Minister for Defence Alan Shatter TD announced yesterday that a decision has been made on the names of the two new ships.
The first of the ships is scheduled for delivery in January 2014 and will be named LE Samuel Beckett, while the second ship will arrive in early 2015 and will be named LE James Joyce. Beckett and Joyce are, of course, two of Ireland’s most famous literary figures.
The Minister said in response to a parliamentary question that the names “will facilitate greater recognition of the ships when they visit foreign ports and when they are operating in the international maritime domain”.
It is my view that these names portray a very strong sovereign link between the State and the Naval Service and sets the tone both domestically and abroad in reflecting on a more modern Ireland and Naval Service organisation.
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Andrew Doyle, welcomed the decision, saying that naming them after these famous Irish writers “will set the tone both for Ireland and overseas as a nation with a modern Naval Service and one with a strong international maritime presence”.
He added that Minister Shatter has been working closely with the Irish Defence Forces, particularly the Irish Naval Service, to ensure that an adequate number of vessels are patrolling Irish waters at any given time.
In 2012 alone, 1,258 patrol days were covered along with 1,329 vessel boardings, ensuring Ireland remains equipped for maritime patrol and maintains a steady fleet of eight patrol vessels.
The LÉ Emer and LÉ Aoife will be decommissioned in September 2013 and September 2014 respectively, and Doyle said that the Department of Defence has recently brought in people to assist them with the sale of the two ships.
The LÉ Emer has been in service since 1978 and LÉ Aoife since 1979.