Thursday, 18 November 2021
Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
I thank the Deputy. The White Paper on Defence sets out an ambitious programme of capital investment in the Naval Service, including the mid-life refit and upgrade of the P50 class of vessels and the replacement of the flagship LÉ Eithnewith a multi-role vessel, MRV. The MRV is an important element of the defence equipment development plan and is provided for in the Government's national development plan as a major capital project. It is the Government’s intention that this new vessel will provide a flexible and adaptive capacity for a wide range of maritime tasks. The Naval Service retains certain capabilities that allow for underwater search and surveying, for example, an underwater remotely operated vehicle, ROV, and a magnetometer system. As part of the ongoing development of capabilities, further capabilities that will enhance the Naval Service’s under-sea situational awareness, such as multibeam echo sounder systems, are also being developed. Projects for other vessel replacements, such as the replacement of the coastal patrol vessels the LÉ Ciaraand LÉ Orla, will be considered over the lifetime of the White Paper on Defence in the context of overall capability development and funding, along with the overall equipment development plan process.
I accept that our capacity for subsurface surveillance is somewhat limited but we do have some capacity, particularly with the use of the ROV. These issues will be considered as part of the work of the Commission on the Defence Forces, which will be reporting in the next few weeks on capacity within the Naval Service, Air Corps and Army. We have to prioritise within the budget envelopes and capital investment plans we have.