Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Tuesday 26 September 2023 Dublin: 16°C
David Jones The LÉ Eithne on patrol.
# Orla Ciara Eithne
The Naval Service is retiring three ships next week - and one might become a floating museum
The vessels, the LÉ Eithne, LÉ Orla and LÉ Ciara have all reached the end of their service life.

THE NAVAL SERVICE is set to decommission three ships next week, The Journal has learned. 

The Government are considering that the former Irish Navy flagship LÉ Eithne become a floating museum either in Cork city or in Dublin.

Sources have said that one consideration for the LÉ Orla and LÉ Ciara is that they be sold to a navy in Asia however the Department of Defence (DOD) has said this has not been confirmed. 

“No final decisions have been made regarding the disposal of the three vessels post-decommissioning. Department officials are examining options to determine the most efficient and effective manner to dispose of the vessels,” a spokesperson said. 

The DOD said that there were a number of options being considered including “safe and environmentally sound recycling via an EU approved ship-recycling facility”.

They are also considering a sale by auction to a private or foreign Government buyer, a direct transfer between Governments and also to donate the ships for a visitor’s attraction or museum.

“Consultations are ongoing with Dublin Port and Cork County Council regarding the donating of LÉ Eithne for use as a tourist attraction or a museum piece. 

“The option of a Government-to-Government transfer of LÉ Orla and LÉ Ciara is also being explored. The Department is not in a position to comment further on those explorations,” the spokesperson added. 

The decommissioning is not in connection with ongoing serious staffing issues faced by the navy as specialist engine room technicians leave the service.  

23715067511_7e4b50d3b9_o Irish Defence Forces The LÉ Orla alongside the German Navy's Ludwigshafen am Rhein. Irish Defence Forces

Defence Minister Simon Coveney mentioned his hope that the Eithne would become a museum while speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday. 

“There is interest in turning the LÉ Eithne into an attraction. We must explore the viability of that proposition.

“If that is viable, then I would like to do it, because this ship has an extraordinary history and people would like to see it being used to good effect.

“Regarding the other vessels, if we can ensure that they have further use in another country which may be able to use them, then we are certainly examining those options now, rather than breaking up or disposing of the ships,” he said. 

The Minister said that it was important to move those ships on as they were costing a lot of manpower in maintaining them.

The Navy has purchased two new inshore vessels from New Zealand in recent months and there are considerations to open a naval base on the West and East Coast. 

The LÉ Eithne was the last Irish naval ship to be built in Ireland in 1984 at Verlome Dockyard in Cobh.

Along with her role of flagship, she patrolled the Atlantic and completed numerous foreign deployments including the Mediterranean rescue mission. 

23771596056_f94a2e60d8_o David Jones / Irish Defence Forces The LÉ Eithne rescuing migrants in the Mediterranean. David Jones / Irish Defence Forces / Irish Defence Forces

She was the only Irish navy ship to have the capability to carry a helicopter with a hanger at the rear of the vessel. 

The Eithne was the first Irish naval ship to cross the Atlantic, when she visited New York and Boston and crossed the equator in 2006 during her historic South American Deployment.

The LÉ Orla was formerly the HMS Swift a British Royal Navy patrol vessel stationed in Hong Kong. She was purchased by the Irish State in 1988.

One of her biggest operational successes was in 1993 when her crew made the biggest drug seizure in the history of the state at the time when she intercepted the 65 foot ketch, Brime.

The LÉ Ciara was also a British Royal Navy ship based in Hong Kong – the HMS Swallow and purchased with the Orla in 1988.

She also scored a big operation against drug trafficking in November 1999 when she was involved in the the second biggest drug seizure in the history of the state at that time with the arrest of the MV Posidonia off the south west coast of Ireland.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel