Muscle and Blood LÉ SAMUEL BECKETT is a fine ship. She represents the first of her class and already in her four short years of service she has travelled far and wide, and she has been involved in several substantial and difficult operations. Yet despite all her exceptional engineering, her advanced technology and her substantial firepower; she is but an inanimate collection of steel plates, electronic cables, and marine fuel oils; rendered redundant in all her marvellous sophistication without a crew.A crew of sailors is needed to provide the ship with its muscle and blood; without them, this wondrous craft won’t ever weigh anchor or slip from a quayside. The metaphorical ink is still wet on this page, as the first responses to the swell rolling into Cork Harbour are felt onboard LÉ SAMUEL BECKETT as she proceeds past the twin forts of Meagher and Davis, towards Roches Point and the Atlantic beyond. This is home for her crew of forty-six, during this next Maritime Defence and Security Operations (MDSO) patrol. She will provide everything they need to sustain themselves during operations off the Irish coast and they in their turn will tend to their ship, while carrying out the duties assigned by Naval Operations Command (NOC).
Changing of the Watch. In the days of sail, the ships bell would ring out the passing of time and signal to the crew that it was time for the change of the watch. That bell has pealed on Haulbowline and Commodore Hugh Tully, Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service (FOCNS) has handed over his watch to the newly promoted Commodore Michael Malone, with effect from the 26th of December last.And what a watch it has been, Commodore Tully has given 42 years of exemplary service to the Irish nation. His career spanned some of the most challenging periods of the Navy. Joining the service in 1975 in a class of three cadets, these future Naval Officers were dispatched to Dartmouth in the United Kingdom (UK). They returned from the UK and were sent to sea on LÉ DEIRDRE, which at the time was the only Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) in service, commissioned in 1973, she joined the three venerable minesweepers GRÁINNE, FOLA, BANBA which comprised the entirety of Irelands Naval assets. When he qualified as a Naval watchkeeper, he joined LÉ FOLA as the Navigation and Gunnery officer combined. Rotating ashore he spent some time on Spike Island with the Cadet College, where he was, in fact, the cadet class officer for Commodore Malone.
Empty. If only the innocent could be kept afloat by faith,until the rescuers come walking on the waves,to carry the children to the cradle of their mother,not let them tumble in the surf,greeting the morning with their backs,silent and stiff, the red shirt on the tiny frame.
Mothers of Many Nations. Mothers are mothers, white, brown, yellow, black.no divide amongst the races by colour, creed or social status,each mother cradles two generations inside her during gestation,endless cord to the dawn of time,when your mother's mother was also mine. The abuse and danger a mother will endure,as she sets out unsure - to fleefetching up on a Libyan shore,with the precious child, her world.
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?
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.
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.
Lá breithe shona duit, tSeirbhís Chabhlaigh. On the 1st of September, the Naval Service will slip into its seventy-fourth year and go 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.