Captain’s Journal LE EITHNE – Monday 27th March
Before retiring on Monday night I examined the LE Eithne’s port quarter, which is carrying the main load of the continuous swell. We have already burst numerous fenders and I sleep with my mind already more or less made up on our departure time. Our day starts with “Call the Hands” at 0730. At breakfast Lt Olan O’Keefe gives me a meteorological assessment, which he has just completed. The assessment is based on the data of the 26th and 27th of March. For European waters there are southwesterly gales expected in areas Romeo, Altair, Charcot, Azores and Pazenn. These areas extend from Sole (south of Ireland) to Gibraltar. So if it is not already windy in Ireland it probably will be soon. From Gibraltar to 8 degrees north of the Equator we can expect north or northeasterly force 5 or 6. This is similar to that which we experienced for much of our passage down but now it will be on the nose and we can expect a rough and occasionally very rough head sea and swell. The news for Brazilian and Equatorial waters is better but it too will become sour from met area Sierra Leone north with a forecast rough northerly swell on our planned track. Leaving as planned on the morning of the 28th of March we will need to make on average 15.5 knots all the way home. This forecast effectively undermines our chances of being able to do just that. Our last service provision is to host the two schools that Fr Brendan Meagher has organised for this afternoon. I take soundings on the impact on morale of sailing early. The general consensus is positive but I know that some are disappointed. I meet with the senior staff officers, Lt Cdr Aedh McGinn Lt Cdr Tony Heery and Lt Olan O’Keefe and give my decision that I have no option but to order that we will sail at 2000 tonight, twelve hours ahead of schedule.
With the various authorities notified we grant liberty to as much of the crew as possible. There is a dash to get last bits and bobs. I wanted to buy a Brazilian coffee table but I fear I have left it too late. The journal needs to be updated for the weekend and besides Father Brendan Meagher and Father Tadgh Herbert and the children will arrive at 1400 so I want to be there to greet them.
After an initial bureaucratic delay at the gate, the children we host this afternoon are permitted into the Port. They are from two schools one private and one disadvantaged. There is a close bond between the children. The programme between the schools seems to be similar to that which I spoke about in my journal entry of Friday the 10th of March when we hosted two schools from Montevideo. I say my few words of welcome and offer my apologies that I can’t stay for the all of their visit.
They are very keen to show me their dance routine, which is based on the influence of African culture on that of Brazil. It is very energetic and accompanied by traditional instruments. The children could be from anywhere – giddy, laughing, joking with a splattering of rogues. I feel guilty rushing off. Before I go they call to make me a presentation – it is a miniature replica of the main instrument they play. I commit to finding somewhere suitable in which to display the gift. Before I go I make a final contribution to Fr Brendan. I can make it because of the generosity of His Excellency Martin Greene, Irish Ambassador to Brazil coupled with a few dollars more of the never ending Naval Association fund which I find in the bottom of the envelope wrapped in a Murray O'Laoire Architects memo. I ask that if possible we would like that he get some furniture for Johana, the lady whose house we painted on Saturday.
Before long I am in Fortaleza trying to find handbags for my two daughters. I feel like a duck looking at thunder. With my one word of Portuguese, “obrigado”, I burble my way to an understanding which results in a beautiful brown eyed Brazilian girl recommending two out of the hundreds that cluttered the shop.
Back on the ship things are cranking up for our departure with alarms being tested and a plethora of other matters receiving attention. I arrive back at the Port where the security guard gives me a lesson in Portuguese in which he articulates his desire to have a toy for one of his children. He is not convinced as I try and “obrigado” it into him that we have given the last of our toys to Father Brendan Meagher and Father Tadgh Herbert. It is hard to believe that the hundreds of toys from Dr Diarmuid Martin’s diocesan collection, the Higher Education Authority, the Royal St George Yacht Club, Our Ladies Children’s Hospital Crumlin, University Hospital Cork and those given by the people of Mayo, Galway, Cork and Carlow as well as numerous other contributors are all gone. Also gone is the opportunity to do anymore for the children of South America – something that the crew of LE Eithne did to the best of their ability.
The pilot boards and LE Eithne is pulled off the berth. It is dark and the lights of Fortaleza are flickering, coaxing Eithne to stay just one more night in this incredible continent. We have had a remarkable five weeks here and nobody could have asked for more of this ships company. We have done our duty and it is time to go. We leave the harbour and a dark squall blanks our radar just as it did when we arrived. This time however it is as if it has a purpose, to aggravate the sadness many of us feel. Sadness for which there is only one cure the security of our families almost four thousand miles away. Our journey home begins and we all feel enriched by the warmth, the support and the welcome we have received from the people of South America. An experience we have invested almost ten thousand nautical miles to accumulate, an experience we would gladly invest another ten thousand miles to replicate. First however we need to invest in those who have really gifted us with the privilege of this experience, our families who wait for us all this time at home.... more tomorrow.
Captain’s Journal LE EITHNE – Tuesday 28th March
Another day, another hemisphere – at 1225 local time here which is four hours behind Irish time, we cross the equator. The equator is 0 degrees latitude and it intersects the Amazon to our West in South America and Gabon to our East in the African continent. The sun is almost directly overhead as it’s daily zenith tracks north towards the tropic of Cancer where around the 22nd June (Our longest day of the year) it will reverse, moving south again towards the Tropic of Capricorn, which it will reach around the 21st of December (Our shortest day of the year). Overnight we ran the gauntlet of the Canoa, that insignificant boat which epitomises the courage and tenacity of the people of Fortaleza and the North Eastern Brazilian coast. We are over 200 nautical miles offshore and making satisfactory progress into a low Northeasterly sea and swell.
The frame of the marquee has been stripped and stowed together with its decking. After some exercise some of us lie up on the tarpaulin, which covers it looking directly up at the sun. I have time to reflect on the various strands of the deployment and how the catalyst for this venture has enabled so much more to be achieved. While the original invitation for us to come to these waters came from the Argentine Government the motivation really centred on the need to honour that great Mayoman Admiral William Brown. At seventy years of age William Brown was to undertake the same voyage we do now and return to Ireland but unlike us he was to return to his adopted country Argentina where he was to live another ten years. Before he died the important Argentine newspaper “El Nacional” was to acknowledge for the first time that someone who defends a nation where he chooses to live does not have less merit than someone who does so because he happens to have been born there. I think that there are many other actions that a non-national can undertake that justify similar consideration.
Throughout the day the flying fish returned in force sometimes seemingly using the bow wave of LE Eithne as a ski jump to launch them across the sea. Flying wing guard, on either side of the flight deck, the gannets stacked like aircraft waiting for their slot. With an imperceptible wing adjustment they then break in pursuit of the fish and with deadly accuracy capture their prey before rejoining the circuit. The adaptability of nature seems to know no bounds.
Overnight we were forced to drop the engines back slightly as the high seawater temperature forced them to enter the alarm zone. Today we have been able to bring the engines back up to normal cruising speed.
The north and south Atlantic oceans are subjected to two main current circulations. In the north Atlantic this rotates clockwise and in the south it is anti-clockwise. The main cause of these surface currents is the direct action of the wind on the sea surface. Winds of high constancy blowing over large areas of ocean clearly will have the most influence. Therefore the Northeast and Southeast trades of the two hemispheres are the main driving forces for the circulation patterns. The Trade winds in the north Atlantic are balanced by wide bands of variable westerly winds – which we know only too well in Ireland.
I asked Lt Olan O’Keefe to do an assessment on the influence of the Atlantic currents for our passage home. His brief has raised a number of issues some of which bear on us currently and others will be important in the coming days. We are presently being set to port of track by the Guiana Current which is that part of the South Equatorial current that runs along the north Brazilian coast crossing the equator at the Amazon and sweeping its way into the Caribbean. In parts it is described as being one of the strongest ocean currents in the world. For us to counteract this westerly set we should steer more to starboard, but that brings the wind, sea and swell more onto the bow, it also means the influence of the current will slow me down more. In discussion with Olan we agree that the penalty of accepting the set to the west is more than adequately covered by the advantages of greater speed and more comfort. As we get further north we are going to be subjected to the North Equatorial Current which will also set us to the west. Feeding into the north equatorial current is the Canary current, which is strongest, near the Canaries and will set us to the southwest, slowing us down. Therefore Olan’s recommendation is not to fight the current and let it set us to the west because in doing so it is also taking out of the mainstream of the Canary current. Once we clear the Canary current we will begin to pick up the influence of the Gulf Stream which will first set us east and then northeast and home.
Since we left our berth in Fortaleza last night the depth of water under the keel has changed form 1.5 metres to over 4000 metres. Tomorrow we will cross the mid Atlantic ridge which runs like a curved spine up the centre of the North Atlantic, occasionally peeping above the surface in places like the Azores and Penedos De Sao Pedro e Sao Paulo which I first mentioned on the 15th of February last. Then we passed them close to starboard tomorrow we pass 400 nautical miles to the West. We continue to make good way homeward bound but with over 3000 nautical miles between here and Cork there is plenty that can happen.…more tomorrow.
Captain’s Journal LE EITHNE – Wednesday 29th March
Our progress north continues to be good. Overnight we had a slight increase in sea and swell. We advanced our clocks one hour at 0200 so we are now three hours behind Ireland.
As previously mentioned in this journal throughout the deployment LE Eithne makes daily reports to Met Eireann in which data are collected relating to, wind direction and speed, cloud height and cover, visibility, temperature, barometric pressure, significant present and past weather, our course and speed and finally wind waves. These data are in turn fed into a computer at Glasnevin and shared worldwide. I say this now because over the next few days LE Eithne will enter a particularly interesting area in terms of reporting. This is the area where many of the tropical storms which wreak havoc in the Carribean and South East United States are born.
Most authorities are agreed about the necessity of at least two pre-requisites for the development of a tropical storm;
LE Eithne’s seawater temperature is currently nearly 29 degrees and our latitude tonight is approaching 7 degrees north. There is still some argument regarding the physics of a tropical storm; however there is general agreement that the energy for such a storm comes from the latent heat released by the condensation of moisture in an ascending tropical air mass. In brief if you have a near stagnant tropical air mass which is getting hotter and more moist in the lower layers because of prolonged isolation and evaporation, a point is reached where it becomes unstable and there is an upsurge. This upsurge leads to the condensation of moisture as it hits the colder air mass above. Historically there has been a complete absence of tropical storms in the south Atlantic and this has been thought to be the result of lack of a sufficiently high sea surface temperature. Prior to leaving Rio De Janeiro I do recall that some Naval Commanders were saying that in recent times things are changing and that there have been indications that tropical storms may be starting to form in the south Atlantic.
Where we are now tropical storms generally, in their early stages, move from east to west influenced by the trade winds with a small additional movement north which is the result of coriolis. I would like to try and explain what the coriolis force is but I can’t – not without graphics at least! Suffice to say that it is greatest near the poles and it causes objects to be deflected to the right of their track in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern. It is the key force which theoretically makes the water go down the plughole in a clockwise manner in the northern hemisphere and visa versa in the south. Having said all of this tropical storms for these latitudes are most prevalent in the period May to Dec so we do not expect to encounter such a phenomena.
Throughout the day we climbed over 3500 metres up the side of the mid Atlantic ridge and we currently have soundings of about 500 metres below the keel.
In a bid to make the best of the weather before we move up to the mid latitudes and higher we had another bar-b-q tonight. We brought our speed back a little for comfort. The food was great as ever. As I have said before the three pre-requisites for a happy ship are a good crew, occasional flat seas and most importantly good food. We also made the presentation to the sailor of the deployment having established a selection committee at the last officer’s forum. There were a number of nominees, Able Mechanician Aime Healy (who has already been selected as the Naval Service Sailor of the Year), Chief petty Office John Hogan, Petty Officer Tom Kennedy, Able Communications Operative Tracy Wilks (who incidentally foiled a mugging attempt by striking the would be thief in the head with a stiletto). The runners up selected by the committee were Leading Communications Operative Mark Ansbrow, Petty Officer Michael Broderick and Leading Seaman Noel Dunne. In the citation for the winner the Chairman of the selection committee Warrant Officer John Walsh read “It is said that the Bar was placed near the ground no higher than a tennis court net when the deployment was first talked about, that bar was steadily raised, the standards lifted to meet the challenges ahead. Once committed to the deployment it is said that the bar was as high as a trapeze artist’s platform – the recipient of the award not only reached that bar but jumped over the bloody thing”. As Captain I had the honour to open the winner’s envelope – it was the ship’s senior logistician, our counsellor, and my friend Senior Petty Officer Sam Fealy…more tomorrow.
Captain’s Journal LE EITHNE – Thursday 30th March
We have travelled over ten thousand nautical miles since we left Cork. Since we left Brazil, apart from the Canoa we saw on the first night we have only met one other ship and that vessel was over 12 miles away. It is easy to become convinced that there is nothing else around. Even the gannets have disappeared although the flying fish are still practicing off the bow wave ski jump. There is however a whole world beneath the waves about which there is very little known. While man may be fascinated and interested in what he can see – I sometimes think it is at his peril that he ignores the sophistication and complexity of the ocean beneath the surface. The ocean is more important to the sustainment of life on earth than all off the rain forests in the world.
Throughout the day the ocean floor tumbled from less than 500 metres below our keel to more than 6000 metres where it currently lies. It is so far below the hull that our depth sounder is unable to register the depth. In the past twenty four hours we have travelled from over the Mid Atlantic Ridge to the Gambia Abyssal Plain, an area the size of France, Spain, Portugal and Italy combined.
Just over three hundred and eighty miles ahead and to starboard are the Cape Verde islands which we passed close to on February 13th last. Eight hundred miles to our East is Dakar and Senegal and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania on the African Continent. The coast of Senegal and Mauritania slopes rather quickly into the Gambia Abyssal Plain. It is on these continental margins that man has at least carried out some research often done in conjunction with oil exploration programs. For example since 1998 a company known as Woodside Mauritania Ltd a wholly owned subsidiary of Australia’s largest independent oil exploration company has been exploring for hydrocarbon deposits offshore from Mauritania. Surveys undertaken in 1999-2000 have revealed the presence of carbonate mounds at approximately 500 metres depth and greater on the continental slope. These mounds are approximately 100 metres in height and 500 metres wide and cover a linear extent of at least 190km. They are almost identical to carbonate mounds found in abundance off the west coast of Ireland. Core samples from the mounds were found to contain dead fragments of Lophelia Pertusa the deep water coral which is also found in great quantity off the west coast of Ireland. Video surveys of the area have revealed large areas of coral rubble suggesting that corals were previously the dominant component of the benthic community. They also have revealed live hard coral polyps. It is considered that the areas surveyed have been exposed to physical impacts that have resulted in the damage to the coral communities and the nature of the damage suggests that it is almost certainly the result of demersal fishing activity where bottom trawlers impact on the delicate ecosystem. Similar damage has been observed off Ireland. Once damaged or destroyed it can take hundreds if not thousands of years for the systems to recover – presuming that the activity giving rise to the damage is to stop. In a country like Mauritania, where economic rights are more imaginary than real, it is difficult to see enforcement regimes being introduced to protect these delicate ecosystems. Reef forming corals are listed in CITES, the Convention on Illegally Traded and Endangered Species. In Europe they are protected by the Habitats Directive. Notwithstanding the many instruments in place under National and International Law serious damage is being done to such ecosystems and it is most likely that the decline in the systems is contributing to the decline of fish habitats. As a consequence it is also adding to the decline of fish stocks which are already under severe strain because of over fishing.
There is much discussion as to how communities of living creatures including corals can survive at such depths where there is no sunlight. The surface currents that I have already mentioned such as the equatorial and canary currents are predominant. In addition to these however a series of sub-surface currents are active. Between 100 – 400 metres a north flowing undercurrent occurs. Between 2000-3800 metres the North Atlantic Deep Water is believed to flow south and below this flowing in a northeast direction is the Antarctic Bottom Water. The strongest hypothesis is that up-welling and currents generate accelerated flows across the seabed providing a nutrient rich environment in which corals and other life can survive. The presence of chemosynthetic communities using hydrocarbons as an energy source is also a feature of these ecosystems. A similar hypothesis applies off the west coast of Ireland.
Ireland has the potential to exercise sovereign rights over almost 1,000,000 square kilometres of seabed and sub seabed resources. I have taken this detour from my general comment on surface and atmospheric conditions simply to make the point of the complexities that face a state gifted as Ireland is with a huge maritime resource. In the final analysis the Naval Service has a key role to play in upholding Ireland’s Sovereignty and that includes its rights and obligations over the seabed and sub seabed. I’ll be up for air tomorrow.
Captain’s Journal LE EITHNE – Friday 31st March
Overnight we picked up some Portuguese chatter on Marine VHF which was probably from fishermen. It is difficult to say what distance the vessels were from the ship as they did not show up on radar. Ship to ship marine VHF normally does not extend much beyond 20 nautical miles. It is dependant on the height of the antenna, the power of the transmitter and generally requires line of sight with the receiving antenna although atmospheric conditions can extend and reduce the range.
We have seen no other traffic all day. Not a single bird of any description has passed by and the only life we have seen again is flying fish.
Throughout the day the seabed has climbed up a little from the Guinea Abyssal Plain as we hug the Cape Verde Plateau. We are currently about 160 miles to the West of the Cape Verde Islands which lie 385 miles west of the African continent. The Arquipelago de Cabo Verde consists of ten islands and five islets. They are divided into two groups locally known, rather appropriately, as Barlavento (Windward) group and Sotavento (Leeward) group. The largest island is Santiago in the Sotavento group and it is here that the Capital Cidale de Praia is located. Between 1975 and 1976 the population of the islands rose from 306000 to 360000 due to immigration from the Republic of Angola.
In 1460 when the islands were first discovered they were uninhabited with the first settlers arriving in 1462. The Portuguese colonised the islands with slaves from Africa between the 15th and 16th centuries with the Islands being administered by the Portuguese from 1587. Today the population is a mixture of Europeans, Africans and Mulattoes (Caribbean/South American extraction). The archipelago became independent on the 5th of July 1975.
The islands are mountainous and of volcanic origin with Ilha de Fogo in the Sotavento group still being active. The climate is quite healthy although in the rainy season (August to October) it is not quite so. The flora is tropical and the trees do not appear to be indigenous. There are no wild animals or venomous reptiles although there is a large herbivorous reptile which is unique to the archipelago.
Agriculture plays an important part in the economy although tourism is also becoming increasingly important with an increase in property investment. I have heard that at least one Irish company is promoting property opportunities on these isalnds. Fishing is also an important industry which perhaps throws more light on the VHF chatter I mentioned earlier.
Overnight as we clear the Cape Verde plateau we will move into the Cape Verde abyssal plain and then on towards the Canary basin.
Throughout the week routine onboard has been returning to normal. There is a great amount of follow up work, administration, report writing, evaluations, associated with a deployment like this. In addition the normal ships routine must carry on. While we are still compiling the list of services delivered by LE Eithne during her visit to South America it is clear that the number of individual events will be in the region of 150. The services have been classified mainly into four categories, military, diplomatic, economic and humanitarian. Setting aside the military type services which account for about one third of what we did and focussing on the other services the break down proportionally between the three is as follows:
The magnitude and variety of the services provided by LE Eithne in the course of this deployment provides an irrefutable quantitative and qualitative benchmark. This benchmark is a measure of the flexible utility of a Naval platform for furthering the Policy objectives of Government not only in the International Maritime domain but also on the land environment. In brief the augmentation of the Defence Forces capabilities provided by Naval Ships offers decision makers huge flexibility in terms of service provision and has the potential to be tied into a plethora of programs in support of government policy in areas ranging from defence, policing, economic, humanitarian, public service and many others. ….more tomorrow.
Captain’s Journal LE EITHNE – Saturday 1st April
Again last night there were occasional transmissions on the Marine VHF Channel 16. Unlike the night before these transmissions were more sinister, with the transmitting vessel making racist remarks. This kind of abuse of the international calling and distress channel 16 although illegal is unfortunately not uncommon. With large numbers of merchant seafarers coming from a few specific countries there is always a good chance that such taunting will find the ears of an intended target. In which case there is a high chance it will elicit a response and the perpetrator like any bully will have won. In a frail bid to stop the racket and call the offending vessel to order, LE Eithne requested the abusing vessel for its international call sign, this needless to say he did not give, but he did shut up!
All day we have progressed North making good time. The deviation to port of our planned track which we accepted earlier in the week is now paying dividends. We seem to be avoiding the main thrust of the Canary current which if anything is now only setting us to port with a force of less than a quarter of a knot. Unlike home, the weather remains in our favour – but once we pass 30 degrees north all bets are off and we can expect it to become more changeable. Atlantic depressions usually move in an easterly direction keeping above 30 degrees north. For the first time in weeks I have felt that we are nearing northern waters. The wind has shifted just west of north and there is a low but increasing swell from the west. Both are signs that we are approaching the northeast Atlantic. Approaching, but we are not there yet. What is also a sign is the fact that we shift our clocks forward one more hour tonight so that tomorrow we will be just one hour behind Ireland.
We are currently 500 nautical miles south west of the Canaries and crossing the Cape Verde Abyssal plain. Beyond the Canaries to Starboard we have the island of Madeira and ahead and to Port we have the Azores. We will be abeam of the Canaries around lunchtime tomorrow. The geological features of the islands prove that at one time they formed part of the African continent. The shape and position of the Island of Fuerteventura are such that it once formed part of the Atlas Mountains. Since about the thirteenth century discharges of lava in this area have been confined to Islands of Lanzarote, La Palma and Tenerife. The summit of Tenerife, Pico de Teide is in fact an extinct volcano last erupting in 1909 and yielding a lava stream three miles long. Since then volcanic activity was detected on the ocean floor of the Island of Tennerife in 1933. Although this area of the world is not one of the earth’s major earthquake areas, the marine area of the northwest of Africa has experienced earthquakes in the past century. Agadir one of the principal ports Morocco was destroyed by an Earthquake around the 29th of February 1960.
Onboard ship today Lt Cdr Aedh McGinn took rounds. I will follow with my own rounds on Wednesday. By then we will have completed our internal reorganisation so that we are ready for service in home waters with the specialist equipment embarked for the deployment set aside and ready to land. We also need to focus on our next patrol which will entail training with other ships and off course getting back into the provision of fishery protection services. For some, the provision of fishery protection services will be an anti climax after the types and variety of service provision experienced in the course of this deployment. Indeed I know myself it will take a bit of effort to raise the bar. Nevertheless fishery protection for the Irish Naval Service has resulted in the Irish Navy becoming proficient in small boat operations. In fact small boat operations is our niche area of expertise and our navy is probably one of the best in the world at launching, operating and recovering small boats. The harsh environment in which we operate with sea and swell conditions as bad as they are means that over the years the Irish Naval Service has developed a doctrine which it continues to refine. That is not all however; the same competencies and capabilities required for fishery protection duties are also largely transferable to other areas of service provision, counter drug operations, counter terrorism, search and rescue and so on. Since January of this year we have worked in conditions off shore where two navies were also operating. In the conditions we were able to safely conduct small boat operations when they were not. One event took place in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere. Both navies had significantly greater resources at their disposal compared to our service. Nevertheless while they may have been balanced towards high end military service provision the fact is that their inability to put a boat in the water in a force six is a significant shortcoming especially if you want to maximise your capacity for the broadest range of services possible. In my eyes for a post modern navy tasked with service provision requirements from defence through policing to public services – proficiency is small boat operations is essential. Even in high end military operations the complexity and variety of scenarios associated with today’s asymmetric threats are such that a navy unable to deploy small boats could very quickly be backed into using lethal force in a scenario that might not just warrant such a response.
Well its 2330 on Saturday night and I am sure most readers have other things on their mind tonight unless they are complete anoraks like me – have a good night and more tomorrow!
Captain’s Journal LE EITHNE – Sunday 2nd April
Today two of our Mechanichian celebrate their birthdays. Brian Hastings is twenty and Amy Healy is twenty two. So it is great for them and the rest of us that we wake to a beautiful Sunday morning with light winds and glorious sunshine. It stays like this all day – perfect for Sunday routine. LE Eithne continues to make excellent progress towards her home port. A meandering depression off the Portuguese coast with forecast Gale force winds may cause some difficulties and will need to be watched closely.
Just when we think we are going to see nothing for the day, two turtles pass by. They are about two and half feet long and just less than two feet wide. One even pops his head up, looks at us and then dives.
Our focus continues to be on our readjustment for service in home waters as well as our arrival in home port. Once through today our experience is that the week will not be long passing. Saturdays and Sundays always seem to drag at sea as our thoughts are with our families and the simple things – like what is on for Sunday lunch, who is calling over.
Our estimated time of arrival has been set at Midday on Friday 7th April at which time we will enter the Basin at our Naval Base in Haulbowline. The Basin is a four walled man made area in which our ships can berth, on three of the walls at least. The West wall where we cannot berth is part of the Irish Steel site. Haulbowline used to be a Royal Naval Base and many of the buildings go back to the 18th century. There are various explanations as to where the name of the island comes from – the most plausible in my eyes is Haul Bow Line – from the days in which the bow line of sailing ships were hauled from the island. The Irish name for the island is Inis Sionnach the Island of Foxes. With the closure of Irish steel, sited on the island, which is being dismantled as we speak the island offers great potential for development. The Naval Service has its requirements not least of which is berthage. At present with eight ships in the fleet, our ships need to raft (tie up alongside each other) when off patrol. This can present difficulties for maintenance. It can also make it difficult when manoeuvring in the Basin area and there is always a risk of collision when manoeuvring close to other ships. The west wall of the basin where the Irish Steel site used to be, would be of great value especially if the size of our Naval vessels is to increase. If the wall is not made available to the Naval Service there will probably be a need to embark on a multi million euro building program to build berthage elsewhere.
Your comments and suggestions have continued to come into our mailbox. Early in the deployment it was suggested that we give a pen picture of the crew-members. Over the next few days we will give a brief pen picture of our crewmembers by division – that is the area in which they work. Logistics today…..Engineering tomorrow.
Meet the Crew
Note. See samples of e-mails received by Commander Mellett click........Here.....