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The HNLMS Karel Doorman in Cobh last weekend - an Irish Air Corps helicopter can be seen on the flight deck. Niall O'Connor/The Journal
Adriaan Palm

EU countries looking to persuade Irish navy to move contracts away from UK

Three Dutch naval vessels paid a courtesy visit to Cork harbour last weekend.

THE DUTCH AMBASSADOR in Dublin has said that shipbuilders in Netherlands are likely to compete for the construction of the proposed Irish Navy multi-role vessel (MRV) when it goes to tender.

Ireland has engaged a shipyard in the UK to build ships in the past but, sources have said, in the wake of Brexit that contracts are likely to go to European partner countries.

While the tendering process has not begun to build the ship Adriaan Palm said there is “competition” to take on the contract.

Palm confirmed to The Journal that he met with Irish officials from the Irish Navy, the Irish Air Corps and the Department of Defence (DOD) who visited a Dutch navy ship in Cobh last week.

Planning is underway in the DOD to purchase the MRV and it was a key recommendation in the Commission on the Defence Forces – the cost of the project could be in the region of €200 million. 

Palm said that the officials were given a tour of the vessel, HNLMS Karel Doorman, which is a multi-role vessel similar to that mooted for the Irish navy.

Recent visit

During the visit an Air Corps helicopter landed on the flight deck on the ship’s expansive flight deck as officials watched on.

The Karel Doorman and two other Dutch warships, the HNLMS Groningen and HNLMS Zeven Provincien were in Cork Harbour last weekend on a courtesy call to Cork city and Cobh. 

“We also know that in the past, a lot of the Irish ships were built by British shipyards, we know that there’s competition there.

“I’m sure that Damen is following everything very closely, because any multi purpose vessel would be a substantial investment that would be interesting for businesses,” he said. 

The Karel Doorman, which is capable of acting as a seabourne helicopter carrier, an amphibious assault craft and cargo vessel was docked in Cobh while the other vessels were docked at a nearby facility and on the quays in the city. 

Palm said that the visit was for the ships’ crews to enjoy rest and recuperation following an intensive naval exercise in the Atlantic but said that Irish officials were given the opportunity to visit the giant ship in Cobh.

“There was a tour for people from the (Irish) Navy, and of course, the landing of a helicopter onboard the ship, which was the first landing of an Irish helicopter and there were people from DOD as well to witness that.

“We gave them a tour of the ship and they could feel both people from the Navy and from the Air Corps how we use a ship like that,” he said. 

The Karel Doorman was built by Damen Shipyards based in Rotterdam. While there were no officials from the shipyard onboard the vessel the ambassador believes it would be a good opportunity for a business arrangement with Ireland.  

“One of the things that they are considering is investment in the Navy, if it comes to that decision.

“I don’t know what the timeline is for that but that Ireland would say we would be able to open up a tender procedure that may very well be that Damen would be interested in that,” he added. 

The Ambassador described that view as speculation on his part but said that as the Karel Doorman has proven the shipyard’s ability to build a multi-role vessel. 

“It’s clear that they are capable of delivering a most impressive vessel. And there are not that many companies in Europe or elsewhere in the world who can do so,” he added.

A small protest was held in Cobh at the arrival of the Karel Doorman by approximately ten protestors. 

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