Three Naval Service vessels will help with Covid-19 testing from today as the Defence Forces also consider the use of non-essential Army facilities to support the HSE.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney said Ireland was effectively doubling the size of the health service - and would use army-style field hospitals if required in the worst-case scenario.
The patrol ships deployed to Dublin, Cork and Galway now join with GAA facilities, including Croke Park in Dublin and Páirc Uí Chaoimh in Cork, in support of the massive expansion of virus testing across Ireland.
There are now 35 test centres nationwide, with a further 20 under consideration.
Páirc Uí Chaoimh will, at peak operations, handle 1,000 Covid-19 tests a day.
Around 40,000 people are now waiting on Covid-19 testing - with an average waiting time of four to five days.
A number of non-essential Army facilities have also been identified for potential use if the Government and HSE require greater isolation capacity in dealing with the Covid-19 epidemic. These are in Dublin, Cork and Kildare.
However, they will only be required if the HSE premises, nursing homes and offices already earmarked prove incapable of meeting the expected isolation demands posed by the surge in Covid-19 detections.
LÉ Samuel Beckett has been assigned to Dublin, LÉ William Butler Yeats has been sent to Galway and LÉ Eithne has been deployed to Cork.
The three vessels will act as support bases for onshore testing centres - with testing staff supported by electricity supplies, accommodation, food preparation, water and equipment storage on the berthed vessels.
However, testing will not take place on the vessels.