LE Eithne sets sail to help tackle migrant crisis
The Irish naval vessel LE Eithne has set sail for its search-and-rescue mission in the Mediterranean.
The mission is the first of its type for the LE Eithne and its crew and followings on from Ireland's pledge to joined in with other European efforts to tackle the migrant crisis.
The ship is due to leave Cork later today, and will begin its six-month long mission in the Mediterranean in July.
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This morning Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Defence Simon Coveney visited the ship and spoke to its crew ahead of their mission.
The vessel will be under the command of Commander Pearse O’Donnell with Minister Coveney telling the crew they would "be in our thoughts throughout the duration of your tour of duty.”
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The operation is being undertaken in co-operation with the Italian government, and the LE Eithne was selected as it is the largest vessel in the Irish Naval Service.
Some 68 Irish sailors and two army medics are on board the naval vessel, which will patrol waters between Africa and Europe where more than 2,000 migrants have drown trying to reach Europe.
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It's been two weeks since the ship's crew were told to prepare for the mission.
The EU has promised to clamp down on people smugglers who are running a lucrative business out of dangerously overcrowded boats.