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These Irish seamen are setting sail for the Mediterranean today

There’s 68 on board the LÉ Eithne.

NAVAL VESSEL THE LÉ Eithne and 68 crew will depart from Cork today to help with migrant rescue efforts in the Mediterranean.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny joined Defence Minister Simon Coveney at the Naval base in Haulbowline this morning ahead of the early dispatch of the patrol vessel.

The LÉ Eithne was selected as it’s the largest vessel in the Irish Naval Service and will begin Ireland’s six-month operation in the Mediterranean.

The Defence Forces say that vessel’s role will be to provide a search and rescue capability as well as undertaking humanitarian rescue operations.

Assistance to persons in distress at sea will also be provided in accordance with international law.

The vessel will be under the command of Commander Pearse O’Donnell with Coveney saying this morning that the crew, “will be in our thoughts throughout the duration of your tour of duty.”

“The despatch of an Irish naval vessel represents a tangible and valuable Irish national contribution to assisting the Italian authorities in the humanitarian search and rescue operation,” he added.

The Naval Service says that most the 68 person crew are in their twenties and have a range of skills including telegraphists, engineers and technicians. A quarter of the ship’s company are seamen.

It’s estimated that, since January 2015 over 1,700 refugees and migrants have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe.

Earlier this week, Ireland agreed to accept more migrants than was originally planned under a new EU quota.

Read: Ireland WILL be sending the LÉ Eithne to help with the Mediterranean refugee crisis >

Read: Taoiseach: ‘The equivalent of three jumbo jets were lost in the Mediterranean’ >

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