Written answers

Thursday, 17 November 2022

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Social Democrats)
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195. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the number of naval vessels that have been bought from New Zealand in 2021 and 2022; if he is satisfied that the State has the capacity to store and / or moor the ships; and if there is an adequate number of fully-trained personnel to service the ships. [57170/22]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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My priority as Minister for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Defence Forces is maintained to the greatest extent possible to enable them to carry out their roles as assigned by Government.

Two Inshore Patrol Vessels have been purchased from the New Zealand Government to replace the decommissioned LÉ Orla and LÉ Ciara. The two vessels are undergoing an extensive programme of works in New Zealand and following completion of works it is planned that they will be transported to Ireland in 2023.

The Defence Forces have reviewed the requirements and consider that the ships are suitable for Irish operations in the Irish Sea on the East and South-East Coast. The Defence Forces believe that the vessels are suitable in terms of allowing for increased patrol day outputs from available crews, given the reduced crewing requirement for these vessels and the reallocation of existing crews from decommissioned vessels that are being disposed of as they have reached the end of their service life. In addition, as the Deputy will be aware, there has been significant recent investments made in improving the infrastructure at the existing Naval Service base with more to come in 2023. To that end, I am satisfied that the current infrastructure provision is sufficient to enable the Naval Service to carry out its current operational requirements.

Notwithstanding the current staffing challenges, the Naval Service continues to carry out all roles assigned by Government, including fishery protection and maritime security operations surveillance in the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and their ongoing capacity to do so is carefully monitored. I am advised that the fleet is managed and maintained to ensure maximum availability to meet operational requirements.


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