The LÉ Róisín has completed a 12-week humanitarian mission in the Mediterranean Sea during which she rescued 1,263 migrants and recovered the bodies of four people.
The ship is currently in an Italian port where she is dropping off medical supplies and is scheduled to return to base at Haulbowline Island in Cork harbour on Friday week, July 15.
Meanwhile, this coming Friday, LÉ James Joyce is due to depart the naval base to take over the Irish contribution to the humanitarian mission.
The ship, captained by Lieutenant Commander Nial Manning has a crew of 57 who are all volunteers.
For two of the crew, it will be their second time in the Mediterranean Sea on migrant rescue missions.
A spokesman for the Naval Service said it’s expected the two ships will rendezvous east of Gibraltar next week where they will exchange equipment and information.
It is expected LÉ James Joyce, also tasked for a 12-week tour of duty, will have the honour of being the Irish ship which helps the Naval Service pass the 10,000 figure for the number of migrants rescued since the humanitarian operation started last year.
LÉ Eithnealong with LÉ Niamh and LÉ Samuel Beckett had been involved in operations in the Mediterranean Sea in 2015 with a combined rescue of more than 8,500 migrants.
If the Italian authorities still require further Irish assistance with their humanitarian operations after LÉ James Joyce has completed her tour of duty, the LÉ Samuel Beckett will be dispatched to replace it.
Meanwhile, the Naval Service has confirmed the LÉ William Butler Yeats has just started its sea trial after being built at Babcock International headquarters in Appledore, Devon.
If sea trails go according to plan, it is envisaged the patrol boat will be delivered to the Naval Service next month. The Department of Defence has also agreed to purchase another new vessel from the company, with a reputed cost in the region of €70m.
“The acquisition of a fourth sister ship of the same class as those recently commissioned will secure crewing, training, logistical and maintenance advantages”, junior minister Paul Keohoe said.
“This is a major benefit to the State and will be a further significant enhancement of defence capability.”
This new ship, which is as yet unnamed, is expected to be delivered within the next two years.
The Naval Service spokesman said, as yet, there was no decision on what will happen to LÉ Aisling which has just been decommissioned after 36 years service.
In the past, the Department of Defence has publicly auctioned off decommissioned ships to the highest bidder. But the trend changed after former defence minister Simon Coveney gifted LÉ Aoife to the Maltese Navy to help it with humanitarian operations. It is now the biggest ship in their fleet.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved