Niamh (P52)

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LE Niamh (P52).jpg
Niamh sailing in August 2013.
Career (Ireland) Irish Naval Jack
Name: Niamh (P52)
Namesake: Niamh, an Irish mythological character
Builder: Appledore Shipbuilders, North Devon
Commissioned: 18 September 2001
Homeport: Haulbowline Naval Base
Status: In active service
General characteristics
Class and type: Róisín-class offshore patrol vessel
Displacement: 1,500 tonnes standard
Length: 78.84 m (258.7 ft) overall
Beam: 14 m (46 ft)
Draught: 3.8 m (12 ft)
Speed: 42.6 km/h (23.0 kn) maximum
Boats and landing
craft carried:
2 Delta 6.5m and 1 Avon5.4m RHIBs
Complement: 44 (6 Officers and 38 Ratings)
Armament: 1x76 mm OTO Melara Cannon
2x20mm Rheinmetall Rh202 Canon
2x12.7 mm HMG
4x7.62 mm GPMG
Aviation facilities: None

Niamh (P52) is a Róisín Class offshore patrol vessel in the Irish Naval Service. It is named after Niamh, queen of Tír na nÓg, from Irish mythology.


The second of class Róisín-class offshore patrol vessel, Niamh was built by Appledore Shipbuilders in Devon, entered service with the Irish Naval Service in July 2001, and is based at the Haulbowline Island, Cork Harbour Headquarters and Dockyard. Niamh's adopted home port is Limerick City.[1] The Niamh completed the Naval Services first ever deployment to the Far East when it visited Hong Kong, Incheon, Shanghai, Tokyo and Penang over a four-month period in 2002.[2]


The ship was designed by STX Canada Marine (formerly Kvaerner Masa Marine) and has an all-steel hull based on the Mauritian Vigilant patrol vessel launched in 1995, but without the helicopter deck and hangar facilities. The high level of automation incorporated into the ship's systems allows the ship to be operated with just 44 crew including six officers. The crew is provided with comfortable accommodation. The vessel is designed for winter North Atlantic operations.

Weapons systems[edit]

The ship is armed with an OTO Melara 76 mm dual purpose gun installed on the bow gun deck. The gun fires 12 kg shells and is capable of firing up to 85 rounds per minute to a range of over 15 km.[3] It also has two 12.7 mm (.50 inch) machine guns and two 20mm Rheinmetall Rh202 Canon for anti-aircraft defence.[4]

The main gun is controlled by an Ultra Electronics Command and Control Systems, Radamec 1500 optronic director with a daylight TV camera, thermal imaging camera and eyesafe laser rangefinder. System 1500 functions in automatic or manual mode. The system provides fire control for surface engagement with spotting corrections in both line and range and has an effective secondary self-defence anti-air capability. System 1500 can detect a small patrol boat at ranges in excess of 12 km, night or day. The ship's Kelvin Hughes surface search radar, operating at E, F and I bands, is installed high on the main mast over the bridge. The Kelvin Hughes navigation radar operates at I-band.

Command and control[edit]

The communications package includes VHF, HF, Inmarsat Global Maritime Distress Safety System (GMDSS) and Differential Global Positioning System (DFPS) and secure communications. Three inflatable boats are deployed from each ship; two 6.5 m Delta rigid inflatable boats (RIB) launched with Caley davits, and a single Avon 5.4 m RIB.


The ship is powered by two Wärtsilä 16V26 diesel engines each developing 5,000 kW continuous power.[5] The engines drive two shafts with Lips inboard turning controllable pitch propellers via single reduction gearboxes. Each propeller is 2,500 mm in diameter and functions at 300 rpm.

The engines provide a maximum speed of 41 km/h (22 knots) with a range of 11,100 km (6,000 nautical miles) at a cruising speed of 28 km/h (15 knots).

A Brunvoll FU45 CPP bow thruster, rated at 340 kW with 5.6 t (55 kN) thrust, is fitted for precision manoeuvring and station keeping. The vessel is also equipped with a pair of non-retractable anti-roll fin stabilisers.

Three Caterpillar 3412D1-T generators each deliver 405 kWe at 1,500 rpm. One Caterpillar 3406D1-T emergency generator delivers 205 kWe at 1,500 rpm.

Known operations[edit]

Niamh at Haulbowline in February 2008
  • The Niamh played an important role in the seizure of €750 million of cocaine off the Irish coast in November 2008, as part of Operation Seabight. It was used by authorities to approach and board the yacht Dances with Waves, which contained 75 bales of the controlled substance.[6]
  • Niamh took part in a surveillance operation of the yacht Makayabella in September 2014 before it was boarded 200 miles off Mizen Head and subsequently had €80m worth of cocaine seized.[7]
  • Since July 2015, Niamh has been assisting in a humanitarian operation in the Mediterranean, to rescue migrants from unseaworthy vessels.[8] This included a significant incident when Niamh was first to respond to the capsizing of a boat carrying hundreds of migrants off the coast of Libya. 367 migrants were rescued by the crew of Niamh and brought to Palermo - though several hundred were feared drowned.[9] Niamh is due to return to Ireland in October 2015.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "L.É. Niamh P 52". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "History". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  3. ^ "Equipment". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  4. ^ "Equipment". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  5. ^ "Large Patrol Vessel". Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  6. ^ Sharrock, David (2008-11-08). "British criminals believed to be behind Ireland cocaine seizure worth £500m". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  7. ^ "Irish navy intercepts massive cocaine shipment off coast of Cork". Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Siggins, Lorna. "LE Niamh rescues over 360 migrants in the Mediterranean". Irish Times. Retrieved 24 July 2015. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Sean, O'Riordan. "Crew of LÉ Niamh set to return home in October". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 23 August 2015. 

External links[edit]