STRIPPED.W hat if all you had was gone? What if all you had was a black bag and the clothes on your back? What if all you loved went limp and slipped from your fingers into the deep blue?
Nuestra Senora de Gardtoza, January 30th 1990. The Aer Corps have a motto 'Go Mairidis Beo' its accepted translation is 'So others may live' which echos the US Air Force Pararescue motto. It stands as a statement of commitment from the people who will place the lives of others above their own.It also is very apt to apply it to Irish sailors, who in all weathers will put to sea in small RHIBs, against the fury of the ocean and into the face of the storm to save their fellow mariners who are in peril on the sea.On the night of the 30th of January 1990 the LÉ DEIRDRE was at anchor in Lawrence's Cove in the shelter of Bere Island from severe gale force winds. A terrible drama was unfolding close by, the Spanish fishing vessel, Nuestra Senora de Gardtoza, (Our Lady of Gardtoza) had run aground on rocks near Roancarrigmore Light, North East of Bere Island in Bantry Bay. She was taking water and she had 16 souls onboard.LÉ DEIRDRE received the 'MAYDAY' at 2100hrs and as quickly as she could, the crew weighed anchor and headed out of shelter into the severe gale towards the distressed vessel.
The Middle Sea. If you drew back the ocean waves,the graveyard of the middle sea would be seen,strewn with the bodies of the poor,from a hundred nations, they lie scattered by the thousands,on the seabed, blanketed in the forever dark. The ocean has no memory or mercy,the sand will not a headstone make,there will be no names carved in Tripoli or Valetta for these nameless bones,locked or trapped inside decrepit hulks,they tried to cross the waters with pitiless men.
Merciful Sleep. Nameless and blameless,drownings not painless, Saint, sinner, soldier and thief, weeping child for their mother,father lost brother, Muslim, Christian and Sikh.
Faces. I draw faces on the nitrile* gloves with care,never more struck by my privilege,until I meet those without a home,a child alone,the laughter and delight at a simple toy,a joy,they are gathered at my feet,their little bundles stand out in stark relief,drawing in the bright sun,on expensive paper with cheap crayons.
Soldier Still See the reverent hands unfold the cloth,medals laid with old memories to rest,blanketed in a white shroud,serving to muffle the scraping sounds,like April's soil absorbed the impact of screeching mortars.
Guard. As the rain it fell,they stood in silent sentinel,youth whose life barely fills a page,for those, alas, who will never age,most gave their life on foreign soil,where the cedar bleeds or in Katangian dust.
House 50. The delivery of a professional service by the Navy with a high degree of certainty requires specific fleet standards, quality control and the monitoring of personnel and equipment in action. The standards necessary to operate the fleet, are the ‘bedrock’ of an effective service. Their importance is heightened when the ships taskings become more complex. It was deemed vital to establish an organic operational evaluation capability in order to meet the delivery of these requirements and to this end, in September of 2008, the Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service (FOCNS) directed the establishment of the NS Fleet Operational Readiness, Standards and Training (FORST) section within Naval Operations Command (NOC).The aim of FORST is to facilitate organisational learning and continuous improvement by highlighting best practice and the fleet standardised processes required for the generation, maintenance and evaluation of our operational capability (GMEOC).
Rebuilding Somalia – “The sea is our future” This article will also feature in the upcoming edition of Emergency Service Ireland magazine.The horn of Africa for decades has been a much-troubled location. Recently Paul O’Brien MA delivered an overview of the conflict in this publication and in this follow-up article, I will focus on the efforts underway to rebuild the country.A lasting peace will be built not only by the absence of conflict but by resetting the foundations of the state; this must bring together many different interconnected parts to provide a place where a functioning government can use its natural resources for the benefit of all its citizens.One of the greatest resources open to Somalia is the sea. They have the longest coastline on mainland Africa and in the middle East, at 3,025km. The waters off Somalia have become synonymous with piracy and lawlessness, yet this will be one of the key areas where economic activity is brought back to the impoverished country, which is balanced on a knife edge with regards to its own security and stability.
Technical Training School, Irish Naval ServiceH aulbowline Island, located in the second largest natural harbour in the world, where the Lee flows down to meet the sea, is a place of rich history. Tucked away in an unassuming corner of a disused building, a historical gem had been awaiting rediscovery…In 2012 while passing the Seamanship Bay on the Naval Base during some renovation works PO/ERA Alan Duggan chanced to come across a collection of old machinery. He spotted what he thought might be a type of ‘Hot Blub’ stationary engine and he began to seek out information as to how it came to be there.
Happy Birthday. On the 1st of September 2016, the Naval Service slipped into its seventieth year and went about its duties with the same quiet professionalism that it has always had and hopefully always will. The crews of the modern navy who have acquitted themselves so well off the coast of Libya are following in the footsteps of those who laid the foundations of the Service in September 1946.The Naval Service is the principal sea going agency of the State and performs a whole host of duties for the government and other stakeholders. Fisheries protection in Irelands Exclusive Economic Zone, narcotics & arms interdiction, search & rescue; these are only some of the tasks which they can be called upon to perform at any time during Maritime Defence and Security Patrols.In projecting the law of the State beyond the horizon, they defend Irelands interests with their presence and as self-contained mobile units they are capable of undertaking tasks which no other state agency can perform.
Charting a new course: The Defence Forces represents a career and a lifestyle like no other. It affords great opportunities with great challenges as well. The military ethos with its traditionally strong bonds of friendship and camaraderie soaks into the fibre of everyone that passes through.However, like all good things in life it must come to an end at some point.In this article, I explore how NCOs who have retired from the Defence Forces have found the transition to civilian life. In particular, what impact the training and education they received within the DF has had on their search for employment, what they have experienced and what tips would they give to anyone who is thinking about making the leap.