Three foreign navies express pre-auction interest in LÉ ‘Aisling’

Greek ship broker and Irish yacht club among the others to make inquiries about the decommissioned Irish Naval Service ship

Three foreign navies are among those who have expressed an interest in acquiring the last Irish Naval Service ship to be built at Verolme Cork Dockyard, when it goes for auction later this month.

Cork auctioneer, Dominic Daly confirmed that three navies from Africa and Asia have made inquiries about the LÉ Aisling, which was decommissioned from service last June, after 36 years patrolling Irish territorial waters.

A Greek ship broker and an Irish yacht club are among the other parties to have expressed an interest in acquiring the 62 metre ship, which has over 600,000 nautical miles on the clock, with the yacht club looking at using it as a floating club house, said Mr Daly.

"The LÉ Aisling was the last of three sister ships that was built at Verolme Cork Dockyard. She was built in 1980, but she's in very good condition. She was particularly well cared for and is very clean and anyone who has inspected her at the Naval base at Haulbowline has been impressed."


No reserve

Mr Daly said that no reserve price has been fixed on the LÉ Aisling. Her sister ship the LÉ Emer fetched €320,000 when she was bought by Nigerian businessman, Cyprian Imobhio, in 2013, and Mr Daly said he was confident that the LÉ Aisling would prove equally attractive at auction.

The ship was notable for having twin diesel engines driving the single propeller to give a top speed of 17 knots, and with its armaments removed would make an ideal training vessel for another navy, as has happened with the LÉ Emer, which is now being used by the Nigerian Navy as NNS Prosperity.

Mr Daly pointed out that the LÉ Aisling has 44 berths and has the capacity to stay at sea for up to a month, but with a fully equipped galley, would also make a fine clubhouse if purchased by the Irish yacht club, which he declined to name, and anchored at moorings.

Dramatic episodes

During her 36 years in the Irish Naval Service, the LÉ Aisling was involved in some of the most dramatic episodes in the Naval Service's history, including the apprehension of the Marita Ann carrying guns for the IRA in 1984.

A year later, the LÉ Aisling's crew, under the command of Captain Jim Robinson, recovered 38 bodies from the wreckage of the Air India plane which was blown up in a bomb attack off the Irish coast, with the loss of all 329 passengers and crew.

The LÉ Aisling goes under the hammer at an auction at Carrigaline Court Hotel at noon on March 23rd. Viewing at the Haulbowline Naval Base is by appointment with Mr Daly.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times