Ahoy Daddy! A little girl welcomed her father home from sea yesterday as the State’s newest Naval Service patrol vessel opened to the public for the first time.
Allie O’Connell, 12, from Ballyvolane, gave her father, CPO Phil O’Connell, a huge hug as he stepped off the state-of-the-art LÉ Samuel Beckett, shortly after arriving at Cork’s city quays yesterday ahead of its formal twinning ceremony with the city later today.
“It was great to see her,” the vessel’s coxswain said.
“We are in the middle of a four-week patrol and it was great to come up the river and to be welcomed by her. My mother, Bridie, was there too.”
Allie and her classmates from Scoil Oilibhéir were due to form a guard of honour on the quayside as part of the twinning ceremonies later today.
LÉ Samuel Beckett passing Blackrock Castle. Pic: Denis Minihane
But the bad weather forecast meant the guard of honour was brought forward to yesterday.
Mr O’Connell, who has served in the Irish Naval Service for almost 30 years, said the new €50m vessel is “absolutely fantastic”.
“It is much bigger than the old ships, it has a range of new systems, and the layout is totally different. It really is state-of-the-art. It is a pleasure to sail on,” he said.
Its skipper, Captain Kenneth Minihane, will sign the formal twinning document with the new Lord Mayor at a formal ceremony in City Hall at 4pm.
The ship will also open for public tours tomorrow from 3 to 5pm.
At 90-metres, The LÉ Samuel Beckett, is about 10m longer than the existing off-shore patrol vessels (OPV)s, and will increase the naval service’s capabilities in the rough waters of the North Atlantic.
The ship is designed to carry a crew of 44 and has space for up to 10 trainees.
Kieran O’Sullivan, whose son Ronan was on board the vessel, arrived to see the ship, along with Ronan’s niece Sophie. Pic: Denis Minihane
It can carry remotely operated submersibles, which will increase its sea area surveillance, and a decompression chamber for divers, which will enhance its capabilities in search and rescue, search and recovery and under sea exploration.
Its expanded deck area will allow the Naval Service to deploy unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, for the first time.
The LÉ Samuel Beckett is the first Irish Naval Service vessel to be named after a man. Beckett, one of Ireland’s greatest authors, served with the French resistance during the Second World War gathering intelligence on German naval movements. He was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance.
Beckett’s Cork connections are well-documented.
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