Monday 16 July 2018

Soviets sought navy repair base

A woman holds the Flag of the Soviet Navy near the monument of admiral Pavel Nakhimov as Crimeans celebrate the first anniversary of the referendum on March 16, 2015 in Sevastopol, Crimea (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)
A woman holds the Flag of the Soviet Navy near the monument of admiral Pavel Nakhimov as Crimeans celebrate the first anniversary of the referendum on March 16, 2015 in Sevastopol, Crimea (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)

Government officials were horrified at the implications of a Soviet proposal to have their naval support vessels serviced at an Irish shipyard.

Soviet officials suggested that their non-armed naval support vessels could be serviced and refitted at Arklow Engineering.

The Soviets pointed out that this should not be a problem, given that Ireland had already serviced and refitted US Navy vessels.

The proposal came as part of a general Soviet submission about how to boost trade between the two countries.

Arklow Engineering contacted the Government about the proposal from Moscow which, the shipyard was told, involved "auxiliary vessels" of the Soviet Merchant Marine.

While unarmed, these vessels would, in times of conflict, operate as Soviet navy support vessels.

In a letter dated April 7, 1987, the Department of Foreign Affairs stressed that Irish shipyards had never serviced US Navy vessels.

"Nor have naval vessels of other powers been repaired or serviced in Irish dockyards.

"It is difficult to gauge the intent of the Soviet proposal.

"Our neutrality as between alliances should provide adequate justification for not facilitating the naval capacity of one of the superpowers in such a sensitive geographical area."

Irish Independent

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