Discussion in 'Ireland (ie. Irish Defence Force)' started by mordread, Jul 16, 2010.
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Minister to signal purchase of ships - The Irish Times - Thu, Jul 15, 2010
Forgive my ignorance, but I thought that the Irish Government had cut budgets to the bone. It's good to hear that there is still some cash available for the Irish Naval Service. Has the corner been turned on financial austerity?
They have and there will at least another 3 billion in cuts in December, the money will probably have to come from cuts elsewhere.
The ships they are replacing are aging (the first ship to be be replaced (I'm assuming the oldest) will be 36 years old when it is replaced, getting harder to maintain. Holes have been discovered in the hull plating of the oldest 3 vessels.
The Irish EEZ has some of the highest wave heights in the world and they are getting worse. The NS needs them as could soon become a health and safety issue.
The following is the current makeup of the fleet:
LE Emer, commissioned Jan 1978, 1020 tonnes
LE Aoife, commissioned Nov 1979, 1020 tonnes
LE Aisling, commissioned May 1980, 1020 tonnes
LE Eithne, commissioned Dec 1984, 1760 tonnes
LE Ciara, purchased 2nd hand from RN in 1988 (commissioned May 1985), 712 tonnes
LE Orla, purchased 2nd hand from RN in 1988 (commissioned May 1985), 712 tonnes
LE Roisin, commissioned Dec 1999, 1500 tonnes
LE Niamh, commissioned Sept 2001, 1500 tonnes
The rule of thumb is that they expect to get 30 years service out of them, therefore 3 should have been replaced by this year and another 3 in the next 5 years. At 35 years the Minister says they will be withdrawn from service.
The 2 ex-RN vessels were designed for use in the much calmer waters of Hong Kong and are designated coastal patrol vessels, there was a major SAR incident a number of years ago and the weather was so bad they couldn't leave Cork. These badly need to be replaced with larger vessels in order that the NS can be more efficient.
So what is the Government doing?
It was only put out to tender in 2007, the oldest vessel was 29 years old. That was for 3 OPVs (plus 1 option) and 1 larger Enhanced Patrol Vessel (plus 1 option).
The EPVs have been on hold since 2008 when they commissioned consultants to do a report on it. No word on them since.
July this year - the Government announced they would allow the NS to proceed with the contract for 2 OPVs (I presume with the option still available) to cost not more than 98.3 million (total for 2 vessels) to be delivered in 2014 and 2015. The payments is going to spread out until 2017 (as per "An Bord Snip's" recommendations (a report for the Government to find where public service cuts cut be made)).
I had heard, some time ago and it's quite possibly a pub rumour, that one of the options being looked at was a form of "armed merchantman". A vessel that would be able to carry out logistic support for the DF on deployment and also carry out patrol duties closer to home. Interesting concept but I've no idea at all whether it's even vaguely practical.
That was the EPV (Enhanced Patrol Vessel), know around the world usually as a MRV (Multi-Role Vessel) something along the lines of a MEKO 200 frigate or New Zealand's Canterbury:
The Meko 200 MRV (Shipbucket - Archive Forum!)
RNZN - Canterbury
All NS vessels (bar the 2 ex-RN ones) are built to international civilian standards not naval.
Word from the Government is the first two are safe from cuts (probably due to the fact the contract has been signed)
That seems a strangely familiar situation........
Difference is we are talking about 2 vessels around 1500 tonnes that are replacing two 30+ year old vessels that are showing their age.
Looking at the commissioning dates on the oldest vessels , either the naval service will be cut in numbers or the government will have to start scratching around for the next opv pretty sharpish
The contract has been signed for 2 OPVs (there is an option on a third).
There was also to be an Enhanced Patrol Vessel (EPV) which would be much bigger and capable (possibly carrying equipment overseas etc) plus an option on the 2nd. Given the amount of time it has taken us to get the contract for the 2 OPVs signed I would hold out much hope but......
Government policy is that the EPV will be looked at after the delivery of the OPVs.
Some on IMO have suggested that the 2 ex-RN Peacock class CPVs could be replaced by a single (much more capable) OPV - the only things they have going for them are their armament and speed.
Don't BAE have some spare OPVs after trinidad and tobago said thanks but no thanks?
My point is , the naval service is very lucky to have got the funding for the 2 opvs ...where will the government find the money in the not too distant future for future replacements ?
The Irish OPVs are designed to meet very precise specs to meet Irish requirements in some of the roughest seas in the world (which are getting worse).
They don't come close!
Which is why they should have included more options!
At the minute we have a 8 vessel navy which operates:
2 CPVs of the same specs
5 OPVs (of 2 different classes) AFAIK there are difference within the vessels of the same class
1 HPV (Helicopter Patrol Vessel) that was designed to carry a helicopter and only did so for training for a short period of time
If done properly we could have have had 7-8 vessels of two classes and all the savings that would bring!
The first vessel LE Samuel Beckett was commissioned yesterday
LE James Joyce is due for delivery early next year
Wonder if the next one will be Wilde.
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