The Irish Naval Service has taken delivery of a £41m Samuel Beckett-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) from Babcock’s north Devon-based Appledore Shipbuilders.
It is the first of two patrol vessels ordered by the Irish Navy as part of a £81m deal signed in October 2010, with the second, dubbed James Joyce, still under construction.
Appledore shipbuilding director Andrew Hamilton was quoted by the northdevonjournal.com as saying that Samuel Beckett is the first ship to be completed at Babcock’s Appledore facilities since 2002.
"The last ship completed here was HMS Enterprise, the sister ship of HMS Echo, in 2002," Hamilton said.
The 295ft (90m) vessel can accommodate 54 people and will replace the existing ageing ships used by the Irish Navy.
The diesel electric OPVs will be used to preserve defence, customs and fisheries duties on the nation’s 3,500m coastline, according to westernmorningnews.com.
Featuring a flight deck and equipped with a comprehensive military communications package, the OPVs can cruise at a speed of 16k, have a range of 6000nm and an endurance of 21 days.
Both patrol vessels are also likely to feature a 76mm gun, in addition to two heavy machine guns and four general purpose machine guns.
The second OPV is scheduled for delivery to the naval service in 2015.