LÉ Aoife (P22)
Aoife at Haulbowline in March 2008
|Namesake:||Aoife, step-mother to the children of Lir|
|Laid down:||3 July 1978|
|Launched:||12 April 1979|
|Commissioned:||29 November 1979|
|Decommissioned:||31 January 2015|
|Homeport:||Haulbowline Naval Base|
|Fate:||Donated to Malta, 2015|
|Commissioned:||26 June 2015|
|Status:||in active service|
|Class and type:||Emer-class offshore patrol vessel|
|Displacement:||1019.5 tonnes standard|
|Length:||65.2 m (214 ft) overall|
|Beam:||10.5 m (34 ft)|
|Draught:||4.4 m (14 ft)|
|Speed:||31.5 km/h (17.0 kn) maximum|
|Complement:||46 (5 officers and 41 ratings )|
Serving the Irish Naval Service since 1979, Aoife was decommissioned by Ireland in 2015, and donated to the Armed Forces of Malta. It was commissioned as the patrol boat P62 on 28 June 2015, and is currently Malta's largest naval vessel.
Aoife was first commissioned when European Union (then EEC) funding became available in response to the extension of the Irish Exclusive Fisheries Zone from 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) to 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi) in 1976.
Originally named after Aoife, step-mother to the children of Lir, Aoife operated primarily as a fisheries protection vessel. Aoife also assisted however in emergency rescue operations and other naval support roles.
In 1986 Richard Branson's Virgin Challenger II was attempting to win the Blue Riband[note 1] by making the fastest Atlantic crossing. Challenger left New York Harbour on 26 June 1986. She refueled, as prearranged, at an oil rig on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. However, four tons of water also entered her tanks. Soon, Challenger needed more fuel filters.[note 2] Branson's London control center requested help from the RAF. The Royal Navy did not have a ship in the area. Aoife, 160 miles distant, was informed. An RAF Nimrod dropped a canister of filters to Challenger. At 00:43 29 June, Aoife reached Virgin Challenger II. Aoife's crew refueled Challenger which then proceeded to complete the voyage in a time of two hours and nine minutes shorter than the previous record. Branson invited representatives of the ships company to the celebrations in London, saying "We could not have succeeded without their help".
In July 2007, Aoife assisted in the rescue of over 100 children taking part in a sailing regatta off Dun Laoghaire Harbour.
Despite the ship's home port being Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour, it had a close relationship with the city of Waterford and its crew were involved in fund-raising for the children's ward of Waterford Regional Hospital.
Aoife was commissioned into the Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta on 28 June 2015, and given the pennant number P62. It is the largest vessel in the Maritime Squadron, being larger than the flagship, the Diciotti-class offshore patrol boat P61. It arrived in Malta in November 2015, intended initially for use in humanitarian operations in the Mediterranean.
- or so his publicity material claimed, which he could as the Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade. General opinion is that it is limited to ships on a regular passenger carrying westward voyage
- These fuel filters were blocks of foam encased in a rubber skin. Diesel fuel can pass through them while water is trapped in the foam. After thirty minutes they have to be replaced. They can, as in this event, be drained of water and reused, but it is for decreasing shorter periods of time
- "Malta flag raised on former Irish patrol vessel". Times of Malta. 28 June 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
- "A History of the Naval Service". National Maritime College of Ireland. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- "Former Aoife Arrives As 'P62' New Flagship of Maltese Navy". Afloat Magazine. 28 November 2015.
- MacGinty, Tom (1995). The Irish Navy. Tralee: Kerryman. p. 215. ISBN 0946277222.
- Pike, Dag (15 Feb 1988). The challenge of the Atlantic: man's battle with the world's toughest ocean. Patrick Stephens. p. 178. ISBN 1852600020.
It was midnight before we came up to the Aoife with her lights blazing in the middle of the Atlantic. It was a welcome sight and despite the heavy swell and the difficult conditions they did a remarkably efficient job of passing the fuel across. They also provided us with some excellent hot Irish stew which revived our flagging spirits and within half an hour we were off ...
- "News and Events". 62 Reserve Artillery Regiment. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- "The Mayor of Waterford, Cllr Mary O'Halloran, accompanied by Lt.Cdr. Brian Dempsey, inspects a guard of honour at the Naval Vessel L.E. AOIFE whilst docked in Waterford.". eircom.net. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- Brophy, Daragh (19 February 2015). "We've just given Malta a naval ship, instead of selling it". thejournal.ie. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- "Ireland and Malta to explore further defence co-operation in the context of European security, peacekeeping and crisis management operations". Department of Defence. 19 February 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
- "The P62 arrives in Malta from Ireland". Television Malta (TVM). 28 November 2015.
- "LÉ Aoife en route to Malta to help with migrant crisis". RTÉ News. 21 November 2015.