€54m Navy patrol boat hailed as being 'great value'
THE Government has taken up an option to buy a third offshore patrol vessel for the Naval Service.
The move, announced by Taoiseach and Defence Minister Enda Kenny, is a major boost to the service, whose existing fleet includes some vessels which are more than 30 years old.
The third ship will cost €54m and will be delivered to Naval headquarters at Haulbowline, Co Cork, in 2016.
It will be identical to the recently commissioned LE Samuel Beckett and the LE James Joyce, which is currently under construction.
A vessel replacement strategy to upgrade the fleet has been in progress since 2007, and after a tender competition, British firm Babcock Marine was chosen for the purchase of two offshore patrol ships with an option on a third.
Mr Kenny said yesterday he had recently attended the commissioning ceremony of LE Samuel Beckett and this brought home to him the necessity to continue the strategy.
"The new ship is impressive and offers excellent value and I am convinced this is the right time to maintain the momentum with the replacement strategy and move forward with a placing of a contract for a third patrol vessel," he added.
By taking up the option under the existing contract, Mr Kenny pointed out, the Department of Defence secured the third ship at 2012 prices and it would not be index linked, ensuring the vessel replacement programme was conducted in the most cost-effective manner.
LE James Joyce is due to join the Naval fleet next year.
Mr Kenny said the Naval Service's operational capacity would be enhanced when the three new offshore vessels were in service.