Navy crew ‘abandon ship’ over problems on LÉ James Joyce

A Naval Service crew was forced to ‘abandon ship’ when further problems were detected on the new €70m LÉ James Joyce.

A full crew was dispatched last week via lorry and ferry to the dockyard in North Devon, where the ship was built in the hope of being able to bring it back to their base in Haulbowline, Cork.

LÉ James Joyce was supposed to be handed over to the Naval Service a number of months ago, but has suffered from several teething problems.

It had been hoped that everything would go smoothly on her most recent sea trials.

However, it turned out there was a major problem with oil leaking from the main engine and the crew was forced to return home again by ferry last weekend.

It was the third time that navy personnel had been dispatched to check out the vessel, which was built at Babcock Marine, the same company which also built the LÉ Samuel Beckett.

The Government has also put in an order for a third, as yet unnamed vessel, which is expected to be delivered early next year.

Sources said the problem didn’t lie with Babcock Marine, but with an Italian company which has supplied the engine to it.

A few weeks ago, plans to bring the ship home were scuppered during sea trials when it transpired the shaft connecting the engines to the propellers had not been properly aligned.

One source said the “noise was unbearable” when the ship was being brought up to full speed during sea trials in the Bristol Channel.

Following that incident, Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said he regarded the problems “as serious enough” not to sign off on accepting the vessel until they were rectified.

He said while the Government had a very good relationship with Babcock Marine — it also built LÉ Róisín and LÉ Niamh — he would not sign off on taking the LÉ James Joyce until the problems are resolved.

Meanwhile, Mr Coveney will be in the Maltese capital Valletta this morning, where he will meet the crew of the flagship LÉ Eithne.

The ship, which is being resupplied, has rescued 3,376 migrant men women and children from unseaworthy vessels.


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