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Life on the high seas with the maritime drug busters

Paul Williams


On board the Naval Service’s newest warship, Paul Williams joins the defence and security personnel who play a vital role in keeping drugs off Europe’s streets

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Armed exercises aboard LÉ George Bernard Shaw

Armed exercises aboard LÉ George Bernard Shaw

Paul Williams with the crew of LÉ George Bernard Shaw

Paul Williams with the crew of LÉ George Bernard Shaw

Military exercises: Alex Pluchart on machine-gun duty on board LÉ George Bernard Shaw. Photo by David Jones

Military exercises: Alex Pluchart on machine-gun duty on board LÉ George Bernard Shaw. Photo by David Jones

An armed team in a high-speed rhib, accompanied by a dolphin, head off to inspect a suspect vessel. Photo by David Jones

An armed team in a high-speed rhib, accompanied by a dolphin, head off to inspect a suspect vessel. Photo by David Jones

The LÉ George Bernard Shaw's gunnery crews test-firing the ship’s weapons.

The LÉ George Bernard Shaw's gunnery crews test-firing the ship’s weapons.

Paul Williams with the crew of LÉ George Bernard Shaw

Paul Williams with the crew of LÉ George Bernard Shaw

In charge: the ship’s captain Lt Cmdr Phil Dicker, right, with Paul Williams

In charge: the ship’s captain Lt Cmdr Phil Dicker, right, with Paul Williams

The LÉ George Bernard Shaw

The LÉ George Bernard Shaw

LÉ George Bernard Shaw

LÉ George Bernard Shaw

Lieutenant Commander Phil Dicker on the Irish naval vessel the LÉ George Bernard Shaw which is docked in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Lieutenant Commander Phil Dicker on the Irish naval vessel the LÉ George Bernard Shaw which is docked in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Quick-fire meals: PO Aileen Hanna, Able Cook Alex Pluchart and Able Supply Zoe Gallagher on deck. Photo by David Jones

Quick-fire meals: PO Aileen Hanna, Able Cook Alex Pluchart and Able Supply Zoe Gallagher on deck. Photo by David Jones

Petty Officer Chef Aileen Hanna on the Irish naval vessel the LÉ George Bernard Shaw which is docked in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Petty Officer Chef Aileen Hanna on the Irish naval vessel the LÉ George Bernard Shaw which is docked in Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

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Armed exercises aboard LÉ George Bernard Shaw

The warship is pulled from alongside the naval dockyard at Haulbowline Island by a tugboat before gently gliding under its own steam through the shimmering waters of Cork harbour.

Under the gaze of St Colman’s Cathedral and the picturesque seaside town of Cobh, the LÉ George Bernard Shaw turns its bow towards the ocean for another patrol over the horizon in the area of the Atlantic known as the ‘cocaine highway’ into Europe.

The ship’s powerful engines pick up speed as it traverses the channel at the harbour entrance — overlooked from either side by the old forts of Camden and Davis — propelling it into the mercifully flat expanse of the ocean. The sky is azure; the sunshine glorious.