Simon Coveney, Irish Minister for Defence and Minister for Foreign Affairs has announced the purchase of two Inshore Patrol Vessels from the New Zealand Government. The Government of Ireland has acknowledged that there are ongoing challenges in the Naval Service and these are being addressed as part of a planned approach to regeneration of the Naval Service. This will see, amongst a range of other actions, the withdrawal of three ships from service – LÉ Orla, LÉ Ciara and LÉ Eithne and their replacement on a phased basis. It is the intention that the two ships will be transported to Ireland in 2023 after a programme of works to restore them to Lloyd’s Classification has been carried out in New Zealand.
The investment of €26 million in these two Inshore Patrol Vessels will provide replacements for LÉ Orla and LÉ Ciara. These Inshore Patrol Vessels have a lesser crewing requirement than the ships they replace, and will provide the Naval Service with an enhanced capacity to operate and undertake patrols in the Irish Sea on the East and South East Coast. The project to provide for the replacement of the flagship LÉ Eithne with a new more modern and capable Multi Role Vessel is underway, with consultants having been engaged with a view to initiating a tender competition in due course. The Minister thanked the Naval Service, Contracts Branch in the Department of Defence and the New Zealand Defence Forces for all of their work in bringing the proposal to contract stage.
The Lake-class inshore patrol vessel (also known as the Rotoiti class and the Protector class) is a ship class of inshore patrol vessels (IPVs) of the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) which replaced the RNZN’s Moa-class patrol boats in 2007–2008. All four vessels are named after New Zealand lakes. Pukaki was launched in Whangarei Harbour on 6 May 2008. Its primary duties included border and fisheries protection patrols, surveillance, boarding operations and search and rescue response. Pukaki was the third ship of this name to serve in the Royal New Zealand Navy and is named after Lake Pukaki. Rotoiti was fitted out in Whangarei and on 20 November 2007 started contractor sea trials. After delays due to problems with gear and fittings, she was commissioned on 17 April 2009. Rotoiti is named after Lake Rotoiti.
The Naval Service (Irish: An tSeirbhís Chabhlaigh) is the maritime component of the Defence Forces of Ireland and is one of the three branches of the Irish Defence Forces. Its base is in Haulbowline, County Cork. Ships in the Irish Naval Service are designated with the ship prefix of Long Éireannach (Irish Ship), which is abbreviated to LÉ. Though preceded by earlier maritime defence organisations, the Naval Service was formed in 1946. Since the 1970s a major role of the Naval Service has been the provision of fisheries protection in Ireland’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Other roles include sea patrol, surveillance, and smuggling prevention. Occasionally the service undertakes longer missions in support of other elements of the Defence Forces, Irish peacekeepers serving with the United Nations, or humanitarian and trade missions.
Royal New Zealand Navy Lake-class inshore patrol vessel HMNZS Rotoiti (P3569) and HMNZS Pukaki (P3568) (at rear) conducting Fleet Officer of the Watch Manoeuvres in the Hauraki Gulf