Thursday, 8 July 2021
Department of Defence
The Naval Service is the State's principal seagoing agency and is tasked with a variety of defence and other roles. The main day-to-day role of the Naval Service is to provide a fisheries protection service in accordance with the State's obligations as a member of the EU. The service is tasked with patrolling all Irish waters from the shoreline to the outer limits of the exclusive economic zone. These patrols are carried out on a regular and frequent basis and are directed to all areas of Irish waters as necessary. I am advised by the military authorities that the fleet is managed to ensure maximum availability to meet operational requirements. On any given patrol day, the Naval Service can carry out a number of tasks on behalf of other State agencies such as the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority, An Garda Síochána and the Customs Service of the Revenue Commissioners.
The Naval Service has nine ships in the fleet, of which six are currently available. LÉ Orla and LÉ Eithne are currently in operational reserve, but can be called upon for surge operations in times of national emergency, as was the case when LÉ Eithne was deployed to Cork city from 20 March to 24 June last year in support of Operation Fortitude and the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The military authorities have advised that there would be a minimal cost in terms of maintenance, servicing and certification of equipment associated with returning both ships to operational status.
LÉ Niamh is commencing a pre-planned Mid Life Extension Programme of works, similar to one recently completed on LÉ Roisin which has returned into service. LÉ Niamh will return to maritime defence and security operations on completion of works.
I am satisfied that the Defence Forces have the necessary resources available to them, including a modern and effective range of equipment which is line with best international standards in order to fulfil all roles assigned to them by Government.
217. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of days in 2018, 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021 that each ship was not at sea due to mechanical problems or repairs whether scheduled and unscheduled in tabular form. [36918/21]
218. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of days in 2018, 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021 that Naval Service vessels were not at sea due to staff shortages in tabular form. [36919/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 216, 217 and 218 together.
The Naval Service is the State's principal sea-going agency and is tasked with a variety of defence and other roles. The primary day-to-day tasking of the Naval Service is to provide a fishery protection service in accordance with the State's obligations as a member of the European Union. The Naval Service is tasked with patrolling all Irish waters from the shoreline to the outer limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone. These patrols are carried out on a regular and frequent basis and are directed to all areas of Irish waters as necessary.
Scheduled patrol days can be impacted by a range of factors including adverse weather conditions, unscheduled maintenance as well as staffing issues.
The table below sets out the number of patrol days carried out by each of the Naval Services 9 ships from 2018 up to the end of May 2021. There is also a table outlining the number of cancelled Naval Service patrol days broken down by number of days lost due to mechanical reasons and due to personnel reasons.
Total number of days at sea completed by ship2018 - 2021
|Ship||2018||2019||2020||To end May 2021|
|LÉ Samuel Beckett||166||166||155||72|
|LÉ James Joyce||202||164||159||74|
|LÉ WB Yeats||204||159||163||74|
|LÉ GB Shaw||13||149||166||106|
Naval Service cancelled Patrol days
|2018||2019||2020||To end May 2021|
|Scheduled Patrol Days Lost: Mechanical Reasons*||154||42||53||47|
|Scheduled Patrol Days Lost: Personnel Issues||53||52||28||101|
*For operational and security reasons a breakdown of this information by ship cannot be released at this time.