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Ireland Naval Service

The Naval Service provides the maritime component of the States Defence capabilities. It is the States principal sea-going agency and is tasked with a broad range of roles. On a day to day basis, routine patrols are multi-tasked to encompass security, safety and surveillance, port security, fishery protection, drug interdiction, pollution control and search and rescue. The Fisheries Monitoring Centre at the Naval Base is the designated national centre with responsibility for monitoring all fishing activity within the Irish Exclusive Fishery Limits and all Irish fishing vessels operating around the world. The Naval Service is also a partner at the National Maritime College and the Maritime Energy Research Campus and Commerical Cluster (MERC) at Cork. In addition, Naval Service vessels have, on occasion, undertaken supply and reconnaissance missions in support of overseas peace support operations and participated in foreign visits in support of Irish trade and diplomacy.

The Naval Service is based at Haulbowline, Co. Cork and has a flotilla of eight ships, an operational headquarters, an operations command, a logistical support command and a Naval Service College. Naval Service Training is conducted by the Naval College at two centres. All aspects of military training is conducted at the Naval Base and all aspects of professional training is conducted at the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI). The remit of the Naval College and the focus of Naval training is to prepare Naval personnel for the challenges of naval life in the 21st century. All of this is achieved through basic, continuous and specialist training and education, benchmarked against the highest relevant standards both nationally and internationally.

In relation to maritime operations, the expansion of the area of State jurisdiction to encompass the continental shelf together with engagement in counter narcotic operations in areas of the high seas present new operational challenges for the Defence Forces. These challenges are of particular relevance in the context of providing for the security of the State, the provision of maritime law enforcement services and other services associated with State obligations and enhanced economic activity in areas of State jurisdiction.

The 2000 White Paper specified that the Naval Service be based on an 8 ship flotilla and recommended a ship replacement programme. The LE Niamh was commissioned in 2001 costing some 30m. Proposals were being considered by 2006 for a replacement programme to provide for retirement of up to 3 vessels in the next 4/5 years. The year 2005 marked the completion of a five-year implementation plan for improved patrolling activity, which shows a 52% increase in patrol days at sea. Some 90% of that patrol time has been allocated to fishery protection.

An extensive implementation plan designed to deliver on the effectiveness and efficiency recommendations made by Price Waterhouse was drawn up for the Naval Service and approved by the Minister. Aspects of the Plan were:

  • A new organisation structure with a manpower level of 1,144. The structure has separate Operations and Support Commands, each reporting to the Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service (FOCNS);
  • A Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources came into effect in January 2003. Additional SLAs with the Departments of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Health and Children, and Environment and Local Government were under development by 2006;
  • The service embarked on a continuous, highly active recruitment program, with a dedicated Recruitment Officer;
  • The Naval College collaborated with Cork Institute of Technology in the establishment, staffing and management of the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI). The NMCI is now the center of Naval Service non-military and professional maritime training;
  • A program of refurbishment has been completed in the accommodation blocks of the Naval Base and a new Combined Operations and Support Building is being provided;
  • The LIRGUARD fishery protection system project has been completed. This means that real time information can be passed to ships on patrol. The National Fisheries Monitoring Centre at Haulbowline is manned on a 24/7 basis.
A contract was awarded to Babcock Marine, Appledore, North Devon in 2010 for the provision of two new 90 meter Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) for the Naval Service at a cost of circa 100m, exclusive of VAT. The new vessels will replace existing vessels which are coming to the end of their useful life. Payments on the contract will be made over a period of seven years (2010 to 2017). Significant design work and hull model evaluation has been ongoing and construction of the first vessel commenced in November 2011 at the Appledore facility. The keel for the first ship was laid by Commodore Mellet, Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service, on May 18th, 2012 at Babcock Marines shipyard in Appledore, North Devon. The first new vessel is scheduled for delivery in January 2014 with the second vessel to follow in January 2015. Payment for the provision of the two new vessels was further advanced during 2011. The new OPVs (PV90) are based upon the STXM PV80 design, two vessels delivered to INS in 2000 and 2001, with an increased length (10m) and depth (0.60m). In addition, the vessels will have an increased speed to 23 knots. These design changes will improve INSs operational capability in rough waters in the Atlantic.

The Naval Service is the States principle sea-going agency and provides the maritime element of the States defence capabilities. In 2011, the fleet completed a total of 1,480 patrol days. 1,287 of the completed patrol days were directed towards fishery patrols and other ATCA duties. The nature of Naval Service vessel capabilities and taskings means that in practice, multiple activities across a range of roles may be performed concurrently during such patrols. In meeting the patrol day output, the fleet of eight ships completed a total of 72 sailing orders ranging from one to four weeks duration.

The requirement to maintain a Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC) is established in National and European Law. The FMC is located in the Naval Base in Haulbowline and is staffed on a 24/7 basis, 365 days a year by Naval Service personnel. The FMC monitors the fishing activity of all Irish vessels worldwide. It monitors the activity of all foreign fishing vessels operating in waters under Irish jurisdiction. The provision of fishery protection services are based on outputs agreed with the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA). FMC Officers regularly represent Ireland at Expert Group meetings in the EU pertaining to fisheries control in the EU and global sphere.




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