LÉ Aoife decommissioned after 35 years of service
Naval Service ship involved in recovering the Air India Flight 182 black box in 1985
The LÉ Aoife, the longest serving vessel in the Naval Service fleet, has been decommissioned. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times
Mr Kehoe attended the ceremony for LÉ Aoife at the quayside in Waterford.
The Aoife - now no longer a Long Éireannach - had been the longest serving vessel in the Naval Service fleet, and was twinned with the southeast city.
Mr Kehoe paid tribute to the ship’s 35 years of outstanding service to the State, and noted that it had travelled in excess of 600,000 nautical miles - equivalent to circumnavigating the globe 28 times.
Crews serving on the ship boarded over 4,700 vessels at sea and detained over 440 fishing vessels.
Mr Kehoe also recalled the ship’s many successful fishery protection and search and rescue missions, and the recovery of the black box from the plane which was blown up while in Irish airspace on June 23rd, 1985.
A total of 329 people on board Air India Flight 182 were killed, including 268 Canadian citizens, 27 Britons, and 24 Indians.
Mr Kehoe said that the Department of Defence was continuing with its ship replacement programme for the Naval Service, and the second of two new ships - the LÉ James Joyce - is due to be delivered in “the coming months”. An order for a third new offshore patrol vessel was placed last year and is due to be delivered in the middle of 2016.
Mr Kehoe paid tribute to the LÉ Aoife crews who had taken great pride in the ship’s close association with Waterford, and had raised many thousands of euro on behalf of University Hospital Waterford children’s ward.
The ship will be taken to the naval base in Haulbowline, Cork Harbour, where it will be prepared for sale.