The sea change in the recruiting process was demonstrated yesterday at a passing-out ceremony.
A number of the 37-strong recruits at the Haulbowline naval base boasted degrees in English, history, journalism, and other third-level qualifications, including science and technology, quantity surveying, engineering, and business studies.
The flag officer commanding the Naval Service, Commodore Hugh Tully said that in recent years, recruits “were highly educated and had options of even more education throughout their career”.
Meanwhile, a regular feature of the ceremony is to name the recruit class after someone with Irish maritime connections.
The latest class, which had undergone 19 weeks of training, was named after Robert “Erskine” Childers, who in 1914 used his yachtto smuggle 900 Mauser rifles into Howth. On November 10, 1922, the author of was arrested by the Free State Forces on the charge of possessing a Spanish-made pistol which was a gift from Micheal Collins.
Childers was convicted and executed two weeks later.
The majority of those passing out came from Cork but others hailed from counties such as Armagh and Donegal.
One of the recruits, Polish-born Mateuz Durzynski, has resided in Galway for the last nine years. He joins English, Maltese, and Spanish seamen in the service.
During the course of their training, the recruits, who include two women, raised €5,100 through a rowathon which they donated to the Cork Penny Dinners charity.
The best recruit award went to Gary Starmer, the oldest of four boys from Waterford City. The best kit award was presented to Dean Kirby, a former pupil of Glanmire Community College, and the best shot award was secured by Dillon Cullinane, 22, also from Cork.
Commodore Tully congratulated the new recruits, saying while the navy now had sophisticated equipment and state-of-the-art ships, it relied on “highly trained and motivated personnel”.
He confirmed the €70m LÉ William Butler Yates — being built in Appledore dockyard in Devon — will undergo sea trials in the next two weeks with a planned July delivery. It will replace the 36-year-old LÉ Aisling.