US admiral pays secret visit to Cork

Alan Barton, Lifeboat operations manager, explaining the finer points of the Atlantic 75 lifeboat to Admiral Bob Papp at Crosshaven lifeboat station. Pic: Jon Mathers/RNLI

The head of the US Coast Guard (USCG) has made a whistle-stop visit to Ireland amid tight security.

In a visit shrouded in secrecy, Admiral Robert J Papp, one of America’s four joint chiefs of staff, slipped into Cork Airport on Sunday night on board the USCG’s Learjet.

The four-star admiral and 24th Commandant of the USCG, who leads the largest component of the Department of Homeland Security, then spent most of the day in — and above — Cork, getting a taste of the State’s naval, air corps, and maritime rescue services.

Accompanied by the director of the Irish Coast Guard, Chris Reynolds, Admiral Papp and his entourage paid a visit to Crosshaven lifeboat station where operations manager, Alan Barton, explained how the voluntary service works.

Admiral Papp travelled to the National Maritime College of Ireland in Ringaskiddy for a briefing by Irish naval officers.

He was then taken on a flight on board one of the Coast Guard’s new S92 rescue helicopters, before he returned to Cork Airport where an Air Corps Casa aircraft was waiting to take him on another flight.

Mr Reynolds said the Irish Coast Guard had been liaising with the US embassy for some time to arrange what was just the second visit to Ireland by a head of the USCG.

He added: “What Admiral Papp found particularly interesting was the level of volunteerism in our agency here, and the outsourcing of our helicopter contract.”

Ireland already has close ties with the USCG base in Boston. Mr Reynolds said he hoped Admiral Papp’s visit would deepen ties and relations between the two agencies.

Admiral Papp left Cork Airport on Monday night for Bahrain.


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