Irish naval vessel the LÉ Eithne rescues 201 migrants

Irish ship responded to vessels in potential distress off Libya coast

Irish naval vessel the LÉ Eithne completed the rescue of 201 migrants off the coast of Libya on Thursday.

The Irish Flagship received an alert at 8am from the Italian Marine Rescue Coordination Centre and the Italian Task Force Commander. It said there were five vessels in potential distress approximately 60 km off the coast of the North African state.

The LÉ Eithne, which was tasked by the Italian coastguard to recover the occupants of two of the vessels, arrived at the scene at 10am. The other three were attended to by other naval vessels.

It was the first time the LÉ Eithne had been involved in a rescue operation of migrants in the Mediterranean. It was carried out in co-operation with Italian, German and British ships.


The migrants were part of a flotilla of five makeshift inflatable vessels that were attempting to cross the South Central Mediterranean. The migrants included men, women, children, and one infant.

Sea conditions during the rescue were calm.

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said the navy was providing an "invaluable asset" in terms of the migrant crisis.

“LÉ Eithne under the command of her captain, Commander Pearse O’Donnell, and her crew are providing an invaluable asset in assisting with the Mediterranean migrant crisis,” he said.

“The operation today demonstrates clearly the value of our participation in this important humanitarian mission.”

The navy said it is providing medical assistance, food, water and dry clothes to those in need.

The migrants will be transferred to the HMS Bulwark where they will be transported to a port in Italy.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter