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Eithne (P31) is a patrol vessel in service with the Irish Naval Service. The ship is named after Eithne, a tragic heroine and the daughter of the one-eyed Fomorian King, Balor in an early Irish romantic tale. Eithne is currently the flagship of the Irish Naval Service.

LÉ 'Eithne', Tall Ships Belfast 2009 - - 1450163.jpg
Eithne during the Belfast Tall Ships event in 2009.
Namesake: Ethniu, a tragic heroine in an early Irish romantic tale
Builder: Verolme Dockyard, Cork
Laid down: 15 December 1982
Launched: 19 December 1983
Commissioned: 7 December 1984
Homeport: Haulbowline Naval Base
Status: in active service
General characteristics
Type: Offshore patrol vessel
Displacement: 1,920 tonnes (full load)
Length: 84.8 m (278 ft) overall
Beam: 12 m (39 ft)
Draught: 4.3 m (14 ft)
Speed: 37 km/h (20 kn) maximum
Complement: 85 (9 officers and 77 ratings)
Aviation facilities: helicopter flight deck

Eithne was originally built as a Helicopter Patrol Vessel for long-range fisheries patrol vessel, intended to be at sea for up to 30 days. She is the lead and only ship of her class, which was originally planned for four vessels, but budget restrictions prevented this.[citation needed]



Eithne was designed to carry a SA365F Dauphin helicopter, and is the only ship in the Irish Naval Service fleet to have a flight deck. Helicopter operations have stopped in recent years, due in part to the purchase of CASA CN235-100MP Persuader Maritime Patrol Aircraft and decommissioning of the Dauphin helicopters. The vessel was fitted with retractable fin stabilisers to reduce rolling during helicopter operations at sea.


Eithne during her 2015 deployment to the Mediterranean

Eithne was the last ship of the Irish Naval Service to have been built in Ireland, constructed at Verolme Dockyard at Rushbrook, County Cork and completed in 1984. Shipbuilding operations ceased at the yard in 1984, and the yard went into receivership.

In July 2005 LÉ Eithne represented Ireland at the International Fleet Review at Portsmouth, England.[1]

In April–June 2006 Eithne travelled to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the first-ever deployment of an Irish ship in the southern hemisphere, in order to participate in commemorations of the impending sesquicentenary of the death of Admiral William Brown who had been born in Ireland. The ship brought back a statue of Brown for display in Dublin.[2]

On 23 August 2014, asbestos was found on the ship necessitating a clean-up. Eithne is the third Naval Service vessel with the cancer-causing substance, after asbestos was also found on board LÉ Ciara and LÉ Orla.

On 5 May 2015 Minister of Defence Simon Coveney announced the deployment of Eithne to the Mediterranean as part of the EU's ongoing rescue mission for migrants.[3] On 23 June 2015 Raidió Teilifís Éireann reported that, on the previous day, LÉ Eithne had rescued and taken aboard 519 migrants from three separate vessels, and would take them to Italy.[4]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "International Fleet Review 2005 Souvenir Supplement". Navy News. July 2005. p. v.
  2. ^ Cmdr Mark Mellett (February 2006). "Voyage diary: L.É. Eithne departs for Buenos Aires, Argentina". Irish Naval Service. Archived from the original on 28 April 2006. Retrieved 16 December 2006.
  3. ^ Pollak, Sorcha (5 May 2015). "LÉ Eithne to be dispatched in migrant search on May 8th". Irish Times. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  4. ^ TRé: LÉ Eithne rescues 519 migrants off coast of Libya

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