The Irish Navy’s fourth Samuel Beckett-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV), future LÉ George Bernard Shaw, was floated out at Babcock’s Appledore, North Devon, shipyard, the shipbuilder has announced.
The float out of the 90-meter ship was attended by representatives from the Irish Naval Service and Babcock’s workforce.
The ship was floated up within the main build hall and then moved out into the River Torridge at high tide to complete work at the tidal wharf.
Babcock is building the four OPVs under a contract signed with the defense ministry in June 2016.
The 90 metre, 2256 tonne OPVs have autonomous engine rooms and are capable of a top speed of 23 knots and have a range of 6,000 nautical miles at a cruise speed of 15 knots on a single engine.
The OPVs have a 76mm gun as the main weapon and are able to act as a mother ship for three rigid hulled inflatable boats.
LÉ Samuel Beckett, LÉ William Butler Yeats and LÉ James Joyce joined the Irish Navy in 2014, 2015 and 2016, respectively. LÉ George Bernard Shaw is expected to be completed in 2018.
The OPVs perform a range of duties including fishery protection, drug interdiction, search and rescue, anti-pollution and maritime security duties.
Speaking about the float-up and undocking, Irish defense minister Paul Kehoe said he “looks forward to the completion of the ship later this year and its addition to the Naval Service fleet where it will be a key driver in the essential provision of defence capability in the maritime domain around our country.”
“This event marks a great moment as it once again showcases our workforce’s commitment and craftsmanship to designing and building first class highly capable and flexible ships,” said Craig Lockhart, managing director, Babcock Naval Marine. “We are proud of our work with the Irish Naval Service and the Department of Defence and look forward to delivering another cost effective and “state of the art” vessel that will support both protection and humanitarian activities long into the future.”