Decision to name Navy patrol ships after writers defended

Director Neil Jordan critical of move to give ‘weaponised naval systems’ authors’ names

The Department of Defence has defended the Government's decision to name two new Naval Service patrol ships after Nobel prize-winning Irish writers, following criticism by film-maker and writer Neil Jordan.

The LÉ Samuel Beckett arrived into Haulbowline, Cork, last week from Devon where it was built by Babcock Marine's Appledore shipyard. It is one of two ships ordered at a cost of more than €100 million. The second craft – to be named LÉ James Joyce – is due for delivery next year.

The decision to depart from the tradition of naming patrol ships after mythical female figures was approved by Cabinet last year, although there was some internal opposition in the Naval Service to any change.

In a letter in The Irish Times Jordan said he was organising a "roll call" of writers and artists who "will refuse to have weaponised naval systems named after them".The department said naming ships after "world renowned literary figures" would "facilitate greater recognition" for the Naval Service "in the international maritime domain".

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times