The decommissioning ceremony for the longest serving vessel in the Irish Naval Service fleet, the LÉ Aoife took place today along the quayside in Waterford city. Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe TD attended the ceremony.
The LÉ Aoife provided 35 years of outstanding service to the State. The vessel travelled in excess of 600,000 nautical miles, an equivalent of circumnavigating the globe 28 times, and her crew has boarded over 4,700 vessels at sea and detained over 440 fishing vessels. The LÉ Aoife was involved in many successful operations, primarily involving her role as a fishery protection vessel but also searches and rescue missions, most notably, and the recovery in 1985 of the black box from Air India Flight 182 off the south west coast.
The Minister stated: I am pleased to report that the Department of Defence is continuing to progress the Ships Replacement Programme. The first of the ships under the current programme, the LÉ Samuel Beckett was handed over at the end of April 2014 while the replacement vessel for LÉ Aoife, the LÉ James Joyce, is scheduled for delivery in the coming months. Furthermore, last year the Department of Defence placed an order for a third new Offshore Patrol Vessel scheduled for delivery in the middle of 2016.
The LÉ Aoife is twinned with Waterford and has had a long association with the city. In this context, the Minister commended the crews of LÉ Aoife whom he stated have taken great pride in her close association with the city and have over the years raised many thousands of euros on behalf of the Children’s Ward in the University Hospital in Waterford.