UK-based company Babcock International has successfully floated out the fourth in a series of offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), which are intended for deployment with the Irish Naval Service.
The 90m-long vessel is currently under construction at the company’s facility in Appledore, North Devon, UK.
It is slated to be formally named and commissioned into the navy as LÉ George Bernard Shaw once completed, in honour of the well-known Irish playwright.
The OPV was floated within the main build hall of the site as part of the latest phase of construction.
It was subsequently moved out into the River Torridge at high tide in order to undergo scheduled works at the tidal wharf.
Babcock Naval Marine managing director Craig Lockhart said: “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.
“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.”
Construction of the vessel is currently expected to be completed in July, while delivery to the Irish Naval Service is slated to take place later this year.
The previous three vessels of the same class, LÉ Samuel Beckett, LÉ James Joyce and LÉ William Butler Yeats, have already been delivered to Ireland.
The 2,256t ship will feature a top speed of 23k and a range of 6,000 miles at its cruise speed of 15k.
It is set to be capable of accommodating 44 crew members along with an additional ten trainee berths.
The OPV will operate as a comprehensive command, control and communications package and is expected to be equipped with a 76mm gun as its main weapon.
It will also serve as a mothership for up to three fully independent rigid inflatables.
Babcock has previously delivered a total of five vessels to the Irish Naval Service, and LÉ George Bernard Shaw will represent the sixth ship to be constructed by the company at its Appledore facility.
The five previously constructed vessels are currently in operation with the naval service.