A major Garda and Port of Drogheda training exercise featured the arrest of an explosives-carrying vessel in the Boyne estuary on Thursday and the ending of a hostage situation in Drogheda docks amid a flurry of stun grenades.
The drama unfolded shortly after 10am when members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit (ERU) leapt from a speeding inflatable boat to the deck of a suspect vessel , as the vessel traversed the estuary.
Dressed head to toe in black combat gear, and carrying Heckler Koch 416 high velocity machine guns, the unit quickly surrounded the vessel’s wheelhouse and “arrested” the crew and seized a cargo of explosives.
Members of Garda command, the Emergency Response and Regional Support units as well as Garda air and sea support, staged the simulation watched by members of the media who were bussed in for the event.
The simulation also involved a “hostage scenario” in which shots were fired and stun grenades used to quell a known criminal keeping hostages in a warehouse on the Drogheda Quays.
To complicate matters the scenario also decreed that the explosives on the suspect vessel, which had been taken to Drogheda Port, were discovered to be in an unstable condition and could blow up at any time.
Chief Supt Seán Ward of the Louth Division said the exercise was, however, not to be considered a display of Garda capability: “It is a training exercise. If we see something going wrong it is a good thing,” he said