Irish Naval Service warships will be needed to deal with fishing tensions, the Irish Parliament has been told.
Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Simon Coveney warned that there would be “tensions between fleets” in the event of no trade deal being agreed between Britain and the EU, with local media raising prospects of confrontations akin to the Cod Wars between British and Icelandic fishermen in 1973 in which vessels were damaged.
Coveney was quoted as saying:
“That would obviously put pressure on the Naval Service. In the absence of an agreement on fisheries, I think we will have a very very complex problem on her hands at sea in terms of tensions between fleets. And we will need to manage that as best we can. That will obviously put pressure on the Naval Service. We need to get our fleet back up to a more acceptable strength. And we need to get our ships back out to sea.”
This comes despite recent news, reported by the Irish Examiner, that the manpower crisis in the Irish Naval Service has deepened again resulting in ships being unable to deploy on patrol missions patrol because they are short of crew.
was to go on patrol last Monday but was forced to cancel sailing when a communications specialist earmarked for the four-week patrol was unable to join the crew due to illness. The understands at least three such incidents have occurred in recent months and that it is becoming a growing problem associated with critical shortages of communications specialists, medics, marine engineers, engine-room fitters, and electronics and electrical technicians. Nearly 15 months ago, a decision was made to take two ships out of operations and to disperse their crews around the rest of the fleet to ensure the remaining ships were adequately manned.”
The Times recently confirmed that two Irish ships will be tied up due to a lack of crew LÉ Ciara and LÉ Niamh. Last year, two other vessels, the LÉ Eithne and the LÉ Órla, were also placed into ‘operational reserve’ in ‘operational reserve’ due to a lack of crew.