LÉ Eithne (P31)
Eithne during the Belfast Tall Ships event in 2009.
|Namesake:||Ethniu, a tragic heroine in an early Irish romantic tale|
|Builder:||Verolme Dockyard, Cork|
|Laid down:||15 December 1982|
|Launched:||19 December 1983|
|Commissioned:||7 December 1984|
|Homeport:||Haulbowline Naval Base|
|Status:||in active service|
|Type:||Offshore patrol vessel|
|Displacement:||1,920 tonnes (full load)|
|Length:||84.8 m (278 ft) overall|
|Beam:||12 m (39 ft)|
|Draught:||4.3 m (14 ft)|
|Speed:||37 km/h (20 kn) maximum|
|Complement:||86 (9 officers and 77 ratings)|
|Aviation facilities:||helicopter flight deck|
LÉ Eithne (P31) is a patrol vessel in service with the Irish Naval Service. The ship is named after Eithne, a tragic heroine and the daughter of the one-eyed Fomorian King, Balor in an early Irish romantic tale. Eithne is currently the flagship of the Irish Naval Service.
Eithne was originally built as a Helicopter Patrol Vessel for long-range fisheries patrol vessel, intended to be at sea for up to 30 days. She is the only ship in her class, as the other planned members of the Eithne-class were never built.
Eithne was designed to carry a SA365F Dauphin helicopter, and is the only ship in the Irish Naval Service fleet to have a flight deck. Helicopter operations were limited primarily to the vessel's early years of service. These operations stopped in later years, due in part to the purchase of CASA CN235-100MP Persuader Maritime Patrol Aircraft and decommissioning of the Dauphin helicopters. The vessel was fitted with retractable fin stabilisers to reduce rolling during helicopter operations at sea.
Eithne was the last ship of the Irish Naval Service to have been built in Ireland, constructed at Verolme Dockyard at Rushbrooke, County Cork and completed in 1984. Shipbuilding operations ceased at the yard in 1984, and the yard went into receivership.
In April–June 2006 Eithne travelled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the first-ever deployment of an Irish ship in the southern hemisphere, in order to participate in commemorations of the impending sesquicentenary of the death of Admiral William Brown who had been born in Ireland. The ship brought back a statue of Brown for display in Dublin.
In 2014, asbestos was found on the ship necessitating a clean-up. Eithne was the third Naval Service vessel found to contain the cancer-causing substance, after asbestos was also found on board LÉ Ciara and LÉ Orla.
In May 2015 Minister of Defence Simon Coveney announced the deployment of Eithne to the Mediterranean as part of the EU's ongoing rescue mission for migrants. Together with other Naval Service vessels, between 2015 and 2017 Eithne undertook a number of deployments in the Mediterranean, rescuing several hundred migrants as part of each mission.
In late 2018, the navigation systems onboard Eithne were upgraded to use a Warship Electronic Chart Display and Information System (WECDIS), reportedly making it the first vessel in the Naval Service fleet to "achieve paperless navigation".
In mid-2019 LÉ Eithne, together with LÉ Orla, was "withdrawn from operations [..] indefinitely due to a lack of personnel". The manner and messaging on the vessel's removal from service caused some controversy, as statements from the Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe (who suggested that the vessel was removed for "routine maintenance") contradicted previous statements made by Flag Officer Commander Mick Malone (who confirmed that the vessel would be tied-up "until adequate numbers of [..] personnel are available").
- Conrad Waters, ed. (2014). Seaforth World Naval Review 2015. Seaforth Publishing. p. 123. ISBN 9781848323308.
Emer class vessels [..] were followed by the larger P31 class Eithne in 1984; the only helicopter-capable ship in the Irish Naval Service to date. Plans for additional members of the class were never progressed and the Verolme yard closed for lack of orders after Eithne was completed
- Tom McCaughren. "RTÉ Archives - 1985 - Dauphin Helicopter For Irish Air Corps". rte.ie. RTÉ. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
- Jehan Ashmore (27 October 2018). "Adverse Weather Forces LÉ Eithne to Open to Visitors in Dublin Port And Not Dun Laoghaire Harbour". afloat.ie. Afloat Magazine. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
the use of the ship's design for French built 'Dauphine' helicopters were rarely used and took place early in the career of the 1,900 tonnes flagship
- "International Fleet Review 2005 Souvenir Supplement". Navy News. July 2005. p. v. Cite magazine requires
- Mark Mellett (February 2006). "Voyage diary: L.É. Eithne departs for Buenos Aires, Argentina". Irish Naval Service. Archived from the original on 28 April 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2006.
- Daragh Brophy (3 June 2014). "Fleet-wide check under way after asbestos found on Naval ships". thejournal.ie. Journal Media Ltd. Retrieved 20 September 2014.
- Pollak, Sorcha (5 May 2015). "LÉ Eithne to be dispatched in migrant search on May 8th". Irish Times. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
- "LÉ Eithne rescues 519 migrants off coast of Libya". rte.ie. RTÉ News. 22 June 2015.
- Ralph Riegel (22 May 2017). "LE Eithne to depart for Mediterranean rescue mission on Tuesday". independent.ie. Independent News & Media. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
- Jehan Ashmore (12 June 2017). "Rescue of 346 Migrants by LÉ Eithne off Libya". afloat.ie. Afloat Magazine. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
- Sean Murray (25 June 2017). "Irish naval vessel rescues over 180 refugees in the Mediterranean". thejournal.ie. Journal Media Ltd. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
- Jehan Ashmore (11 December 2018). "Irish Naval Service Flagship First to Achieve "Paperless Navigation"". afloat.ie. Afloat Magazine. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
- "Decision on Mediterranean rescue missions met with disappointment". irishtimes.com. Irish Times. 9 July 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
- "Internal documents show frustration over Naval Service ships controversy". irishtimes.com. Irish Times. 11 August 2019. Retrieved 2 November 2019.
- O'Riordan, Sean (18 March 2020). "Navy returning LÉ Eithne to service as Cork Covid-19 testing centre". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
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