Government to Sell LE Aishling

By Seamus Whelehan

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The government have finally given the go ahead for a plan to sell off the Naval ship LE Aishling.

The Minister for state with special responsibility for Defence Paul Kehoe says he will initiate the sale process shortly.

The LE Aishling was decommissioned last June following a career which spanned almost 40 years.

The vessel was one of the last to be built at Cork Verome Dockyard earning it the nick name Last of The Mohicans.

During its role in protecting Irish and EU fishing stocks she travelled in excess of 628,000 nautical miles, boarded over 5,500 vessels at sea and detained over 220 fishing vessels.

Most famously the off shore patrol was integral in the capture of the Marita Ann an IRA gun running ship in 1984 off the southwest coast.

Sitting Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris was among five detained during the incident.

Twelve months later she was one of the first vessels on the scene following the downing of Air India flight 182.

The plane was en-route from Montreal to New Deli.

All 329 on board were killed, most of the victims were Canadian nationals, with strong links to India. The incident led to Canada’s longest criminal investigation.

Since her decommissioning last year the ship has been replaced by LE William Butler Yates at a cost of €70million. The vessel was constructed in Devon by Babcock International.

This is the third off shore patrol vessel the Irish Navy have taken ownership of, a further ship is to be delivered early 2018.

The first was the LE Samuel Beckett commissioned in May 2014. The second LE James Joyce was commissioned in September 2015.

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