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Naval vessel L.É. Eithne departs Cork to assist in the Humanitarian Crisis in the Mediterranean

Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Mr. Paul Kehoe T.D., was in the Naval Base, Haulbowline this morning to meet the Captain and crew of L.É. Eithne before their departure for the Mediterranean to assist the Italian authorities in search and rescue activities in the Mediterranean.
During his meeting with the crew, the Minister said “I want to wish Commander Brian Fitzgerald and each and every member of the crew of L.É. Eithne a safe and successful mission. You are travelling to the Mediterranean with the best wishes of the nation. ”
The Minister further commented “The humanitarian crisis arising as a result of the loss of lives in the Mediterranean continues to be of great concern to Ireland and to our EU partners. I believe that we should continue to support Italy in a practical manner as far as possible and the Italian authorities have welcomed this support”.
L.É. Eithne was the first Irish Naval vessel deployed to respond to the crisis in 2015, followed by L.É. Niamh and L.É. Samuel Beckett. Three further Irish Naval vessels were deployed to the Mediterranean during 2016 to assist the Italian Authorities, L.É. Róisín, L.É. James Joyce and L.É. Samuel Beckett. Over 15,600 migrants have been rescued by Irish Naval vessels to date.
The Minister added, “The success of the operations carried out in 2015 and 2016 demonstrates the value of Ireland’s participation in this important humanitarian mission. I am pleased that we are in a position to continue to provide search and rescue activity for a further year. Ireland’s provision of naval assets and crew to the Mediterranean over a three year period is significant in the context of the number of ships we have available.”
L.É. Eithne under the command of her Captain, Lieutenant Commander Brian Fitzgerald, and a crew of seventy two (72) is expected to be deployed in the Mediterranean until mid-July, dependent on the operational demands and requirements arising.
Note for Editors
The role of the Irish Naval vessel is to provide a search and rescue capability and to undertake humanitarian search and rescue operations at sea in the Mediterranean. Similar to previous deployments in 2015 and 2016, assistance to persons in distress at sea will be provided in accordance with the applicable provisions of international conventions governing search and rescue situations. Co-ordination of search and rescue efforts and the provision of humanitarian assistance will be achieved through close co-operation with the relevant Italian authorities.
Operation Sophia is another element of the comprehensive approach being pursued by the EU to address the migrant crisis. The primary role of Operation Sophia is targeted at security and countering people trafficking, and ultimately, preventing the loss of life at sea. Ireland has not, to date, participated in this Mission but remain fully supportive of the EU approach to this crisis.