An Taoiseach and Irish Minister for Defence Mr. Enda Kenny, T.D. has announced that an order has been placed with Babcock Marine for the 3rd Offshore Patrol Vessel for the Irish Naval Service.
A vessel replacement strategy for the Naval Service has been in progress since 2007 to provide for the replacement of existing vessels some of which are over 30 years old. Following completion of a tender competition, Babcock Marine was selected for the purchase of two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) with an option on a third.
An Taoiseach said that “I recently attended the commissioning ceremony of LE Samuel Beckett, which brought home to me the necessity to continue with the vessel replacement strategy. The new ship is impressive and offers excellent value and I am convinced that this is the right time to maintain the momentum with the replacement strategy and move forward with a placing of a contract for the third Patrol Vessel.”
By taking up the option under the existing contract, the Department secures that the third ship will be bought on 2012 prices and will not be index linked thus ensuring that the vessel replacement programme is conducted in the most cost effective manner. In addition the Department secures that the fleet continues to be modernised with the added advantage of standardising the fleet. If a new procurement exercise was to be initiated it could take over 5 years to complete the procurement process with no guarantee that a new ship would be of the same design.
Following discussions with Babcock Marine, it has been agreed to place an order for the third ship at a price of €54m. The new Ship will be identical in build to the recently commissioned LE Samuel Beckett and the currently under construction LE James Joyce.
An Taoiseach concluded by saying “the Naval Service carries out a wide range of challenging roles. Naval Service ships assert the integrity of our territorial waters as well as protecting the marine resources of the country. The Naval Service’s operational capacity in a highly demanding environment will be enhanced when the three new Offshore Vessels are in service”.
The third Vessel will be delivered in 2016.
Press Release, June 11, 2014; Image: Irish Navy