Built in Ireland by Verolme Cork Dockyard was handed over to the Naval
Service in May 1973. After 28 Years service and nearly 500,000 miles clocked
up she was decommissioned and sold.
For many of her crew it will be a sad occassion. They may very well relive some of the events that have occured during her period of service. On November 24th 1973 just a year after her delivery to the Naval Service all leave was cancelled for her crew, and it began taking on extra arms and ammunition. The following day with Garda personnel, it patrolled the south coast, in tandem with two other naval service vessels LE Grainne and LE Fola.
Then came a report from a Nimrod aircraft, using the reference, Dandoline. This was the code-name for a vessel under surveillance, which was sighted on the 12-mile limit. At 2120hrs. on Tuesday November 27th 1973, Dandoline approached Dungarvan Bay and was met by a smaller craft. LE Deirdre sent a boarding party to the ship just over half an hour later. The vessel's name was Claudia and on board was one of the largest consignment of arms and ammunition bound for the IRA. 250 rifles, 244 revolvers, 350 sub machine-guns, 100 anti-tank guns, 100 cases of anti-personnel mines, 5000 lbs of explosives and cortex fuses, and 500 hand-grenades.
In 1977 while patrolling the rich fishing grounds off Ireland and operating the new 50 mile exclusion zone LE Deirdre came across nine Dutch trawlers and a hospital ship off the Old Head of Kinsale 45 miles inside the limit. LE Deirdre sent a boarding party to check one of the trawlers the MV Monica. The Dutch captain refused to haul her gear and leave Irish waters. The Captain of LE Deirdre arrested all the Dutch fleet including the hospital ship-10 vessels in all.
Of the two most tragic events during her life one was the 1979 Fastnet Yacht race rescue after storms struck 302 competing craft on August 13th. LE Deirdre located and stood by 17 yachts in distress. It gave direct assistance to six vessels. 15 lives were lost and 23 yachts abandoned. It was one of the worst accidents in offshore yacht racing history.
The second tragic event happened on the night of January 30th 1990. A Spanish fishing vessel which had been previously detained on fisheries offences in Irish waters ignored a storm warning and put to sea going aground on rocks on Roancarrigbeg in Bantry Bay. In response to the distress call LE Deirdre despatched Leading Seaman Michael Quinn and Able Seaman Paul Kellet in the ships inflatable Gemini to attempt a rescue of the Spanish Seamen. The conditions were extremely bad and the seas too rough so the Gemini attempted to turn back and was capsized by a large wave. Able Seaman Kellet made it to the rocks and scrambled ashore, but Leading Seaman Quinn drowned. Leading Seaman Quinn's body was recovered the next day. The Spanish Crew were subsequently rescued by helicopter. The King of Spain awarded the Spanish Cross of Naval Merit to Seaman Paul Kellet.