Ship ahoy! Navy top brass have confirmed that key personnel will shortly be sent to Devon to familiarise themselves with technology onboard their newest vessel before taking her on sea trials later this month.
The confirmation came from Officer Commanding the Naval College, Commander Dave Barry, after he took the salute at a passing out parade of 23 recruits — some of whom will be among the 45-strong crew to man the new €50m LE Samuel Beckett.
It is expected the stealth-style vessel will arrive at Navy headquarters in Haulbowline next month and will be followed in 2015 by her sister ship, LE James Joyce.
Stephen Histon, who acted as petty officer of the recruit class, has already been appointed bosun on the LE Samuel Beckett and will be among the first to put the ship through its paces.
Big brother was also watching — on the double. Leading mechanic Ian Kavanagh from Waterford and Wexford-born able seaman Stephen Whitty watched as their respective younger brothers, Peter and Luke, completed their 18 weeks of training, which included seamanship, basic sea survival, naval boarding, foot drill, weapons handling, first aid, damage control, and firefighting.
“It’s a proud day,” said Stephen. “We have a 10-year-old brother, Dick, and you never know, maybe one day he’ll be here.”
However, there was no comparable ‘sister act’, as the number of women recruits passing out has dwindled in recent years.
There are four women currently serving who have commanded ships and the latest, Orla Gallagher, was out at sea yesterday. The Navy got its first female petty officer last year and more are expected to be elevated to that rank shortly.
The latest recruit class was named after 19th century Wicklow-born mariner Robert Halpin, who captained cable-laying ships, serving to connect countries and continents via submarine telegraph cables.
The best recruit award went to Michael Tobin from Waterford; Robert Smith from Carlow was best shot; and Cork’s Anthony Linehan got an award for best kit.
As is customary, the recruits raised money for charity, this time with a rowathon. They raised €2,500 which was handed over to the children’s unit at Cork University Hospital.
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