Naval vessel LE Emer stood down
Oldest ship in service built in Verolme Cork Dockyard and commissioned in early 1978
LE Emer’s role has encompassed maritime defence and security, ocean governance, safety and surveillance; port security, fishery protection, drug interdiction, pollution control and search and rescue. Photograph: Irish Naval Service
The oldest ship in the Irish Naval Service, the LE Emer was stood down yesterday after a 35 year old career which saw her involved in some of the most notable events in recent Irish maritime history.
Built in Verolme Cork Dockyard and commissioned on January 16th 1978, the LE Emer was within 18 months of her joining the fleet, participating in the Search and Rescue operation during the Fastnet Disaster off the West Cork coast in 1979.
Five years later, the LE Emer under the command of Lt Commander Brian Farrell played a key role in the seizure of the IRA gun-running fishing vessel, Marita Anne, near the Skellig Rocks, intercepting the trawler with 160 arms and 71,000 rounds of ammunition on board
Yesterday at a decommissioning service at Custom House Quay in Cork, Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, Commodore Mark Mellet recalled that in her 35 years of service to the Irish State, the LE Emer has had 23 captains and sailed 518,000 nautical miles.
“This ship, LE. Emer has served her country enormously over the past 35 years and all of her crew, both serving and retired, can be very proud of their hard work and effort throughout her life in the Naval Service,” he said.
Commodore Mellet recalled that within a year of her commission, the LE Emer became the first Naval Service ship to carry out UNIFIL resupply mission in 1979 when she brought supplies to Irish troops on peace keeping duties in South Lebanon.
Among the other significant events in Irish maritime history in which the LE Emer participated was the Air India Disaster recovery off the south west coast in June 1985 when she relieved her sister ship, the LE Aisling in the recovery of bodies.
The LE Emer’s last captain, Lt Commander Alan O’Regan pointed out yesterday that the ship was named after Cu Chulainn’s wife and is due to be replaced early next year by the newest ship in the fleet, the LE Samuel Beckett currently being completed in the UK.
The ship will be put up for public auction next month at the Carrigaline Court Hotel in Co Cork and auctioneer, Dominic Daly who handled the sale of the last Naval Service vessel to be sold, the LE Deirdre is confident she will attract a lot of interest.
“The LE Deirdre had been out of service for some time before she was sold - the LE Emer is a much more modern vessel and she’s in perfect mechanical order - already we’ve had a number of expressions of interest in her and I’d expect several more before the auction.”