The Irish Naval Service has held the official naming and commissioning ceremony of the second Samuel Beckett-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV), LE James Joyce (P62) at the Carlisle Pier in Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin.
A total of two Samuel Beckett-class PVs were ordered by Ireland's Department of Defence under a £81m contract from Babcock Marine in October 2010, with the option of a third vessel.
In June 2014, the department exercised the option under the original contract to place an order for a third OPV, named LÉ William Butler Yeats, which is scheduled for delivery in the middle of 2016.
Built by Babcock Marine Appledore, the 2256t LÉ James Joyce is equipped with autonomous engine rooms and can cruise at a top speed of 23k.
The ship has a 6,000nm range at a cruise speed of 15k on a single engine, and joins LÉ Samuel Beckett, which is already operational.
Designed to replace the 35-year-old LÉ Aoife, the OPV will survey the exclusive economic zone off Ireland's coasts, extending toward Great Britain in the East and into the Atlantic in the West.
Irish Defence Minister Simon Coveney said: "The naming and commissioning of the ship carries with it a great sense of pride and anticipation for all naval service personnel.
"I know that the ship's first captain, lieutenant commander Brian Dempsey and his crew are eagerly looking forward to working up the new ship to its full potential."
In addition to a comprehensive command, control and communications package, the OPV is also equipped with a 76mm gun, two 20mm cannons and four general purpose machine guns.
The OPVs can be deployed for an array of missions, including fishery protection, search and rescue, anti-pollution and maritime security duties, as well as vessel boarding.
Image: L.E James Joyce is will replace the Irish Navy's 35-year-old Le Aoife offshore patrol vessel. Photo: © Norman Hardaker MarineTraffic.com.