The Dutchman who purchased former Naval Service ship LÉ Aisling for the bargain price of €110,000 got an added bonus — there was €16,000 of fuel onboard.

The revelation is likely to spark renewed calls into how the vessel was let go so cheaply, especially as the buyer , Dick van de Kamp, recently advertised it for resale at €685,000.

The auctioneer who sold it said he had not been told about the fuel left on board.

There was approximately 35,000 litres of fuel contained in five different tanks on LÉ Aisling when Mr van de Kamp took possession.

The fuel was needed to keep the engines turning over and they were tested at regular intervals before the ship was auctioned off.

The Department of Defence said as it had been sitting in the ship’s tanks for a number of months Naval Service marine engineers determined that the quality of this fuel would not be guaranteed to the standard required for operational use by Naval Service ships.

The Department of Defence said: ‘While there are known methods of fixing or rejuvenating aged fuel, the Naval Service advised that the cost of removing and treating the fuel at an estimate of €41,000 would have been greater than the value of the aged fuel remaining aboard.

Auctioneer Domonic Daly said he received no instructions about the fuel being onboard the vessel before he auctioned it off. On the day after receiving just two bids, he adjourned the auction during which time Department of Defence officials told him it had to be sold.

The minister of state with responsibility for defence, Paul Kehoe, said suggestions that the ship was sold below value “is unsupported.”

However, many people have questioned why she was let go so cheaply, considering that LÉ Emer sold for €320,000 in 2014. In 2001, LÉ Deirdre was sold off at auction for €240,000.

Mr Daly said the lack of interest in LÉ Aisling was probably due to the recent collapse in the market for second-hand ships.

Irish Maritime Forum spokesman Captain James Robinson said his organisation had always been of the opinion that sale of such specialised vessels on the open market garners such little revenue for the Exchequer as to be almost negligible.

“A worthy gesture would be to donate them to one or more of the coastal states on the fringes of the anti-piracy EU naval force area of operations near the Horn of Africa,” he said.

“Currently the UN through the International Maritime Organisation is endeavouring to build patrol capacity in these nations and while the ships are no longer fit for patrolling in the Atlantic, they would be eminently suitable for coastal patrol off East Africa.”

Previously the Department of Defence gifted LÉ Aoife to Malta to help it deal with the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean Sea.


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