On Wednesday, the L.É. Aisling (P23) is being decommissioned after 36 years naval service. An offshore patrol vessel built at Verolme Dockyard in Cork and launched in 1980, she is the current longest-serving ship in the fleet.
L.É. Aisling was primarily deployed in fishery protection, search and rescue and maritime patrol missions in the 200-mile Irish Economic Exclusion Zone.
Vital stats: Length 65 metres – Weight 1,020 tonnes – Top speed 17 knots
She is the last of an original set of 3 built in the 1970’s to be decommissioned. They have been replaced by 3 new James Joyce class OPV’s.
LE Aisling had the Naval Service’s first female commanding officer -Lieutenant Commander Roberta O’Brien, who was also the first woman to be commissioned in the Naval service.
Famously, LE Aisling was involved in the arrest of the Marita Ann off the southwest coast in 1984. The incident involved the seizure of large cargo of arms destined for the IRA. The weapons had come from the US, ferried across the Atlantic in notorious gangster Whitey Bulger’s fishing trawler, the Valhalla.
The decommissioning will take place in Galway, the city with which the ship is twinned.
(Photos Naval Service Facebook page)