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irish navy

Irish Naval Service will have just 'two ships full time' to patrol seas for the rest of 2023

The ships available to go to sea will be the LÉ Samuel Beckett and LÉ William Butler Yeats – it is understood a third ship will be on standby.

THE IRISH NAVY will have just two ships available to go to sea until the new year and sources have said that considerations are being made to have a reduced fleet in 2024 due to the ongoing staffing crisis.

The ships available to go to sea will be the LÉ Samuel Beckett and LÉ William Butler Yeats – it is understood a third ship will be on standby.

A high level meeting has taken place in Haulbowline Naval Base in Cork Harbour in recent days when the issue was discussed.

Following this meeting senior naval officers met with crews of the affected vessels and informed them that they were forced to tie up all but two of the eight ship navy until the end of the year. 

It is understood that training specialists in critical equipment means that the ships’ crews are reduced which means that they do not have the required personnel to go to sea.  

Sources have told The Journal that the contingency planning for the reduced fleet will ensure that at least one ship will be at sea at all times. It is believed that a third vessel can be called on as a “standby ship” but that this is unlikely to be activated.  

It is the latest blow to the Naval Service that has suffered repeated incidents of naval vessels being short on crew

The crews of the LÉ James Joyce and LÉ George Bernard Shaw have been told that their planned patrols have been cancelled.

The LÉ William Butler Yeats has recently returned from a deployment to the Mediterranean where it patrolled off the coast of Libya to enforce an arms embargo as part of European Union mission Operation Irini. 

A statement from the Irish Defence Forces said the military were unable to comment on operational matters. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Defence confirmed that there was plan to tie up ships in Haulbowline but claimed that it would be three ships. 

The spokesperson would not reveal operational details or the names of the ships involved. 

“The Department of Defence has been informed of the further consolidation of the Naval Service fleet. This strategic decision has been taken in order to streamline operations, bolster existing capabilities, and ensure optimal resource allocation in the Naval Service.

“The Department has been advised that the Naval Service is adopting a three ship posture with immediate effect,” the spokesperson said. 

The Department of Defence added that the Naval Service was continuing to conduct Maritime surveillance and fisheries patrols in Irish coastal waters and the Irish Naval Service Fisheries Monitoring Centre in Haulbowline will continue to monitor vessels in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone EEZ on a 24 hour basis. This is further augmented by the Air Corps maritime patrol aircraft.

“The challenges around recruitment and retention within the Defence Forces have been identified for some time. A range of initiatives have been implemented with a view to addressing these challenges,” the spokesperson added. 

A spokesperson for the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers:  “This is disappointing but not surprising. It’s an recognition by naval management of the current situation, and the inability to attract and retain suitably personnel.

“The reasons for this are well known; failure to implement safe and fair working conditions, failure to pay adequate allowances for hours worked, and an inability to match policy with resources.”

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