The Irish Naval Service vessel LÉ Niamh will depart next Friday (6th October) for Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean where it will be taking a much more proactive approach to aid in the ongoing crisis.
This will be the first time the Irish Naval Service will be joining the much wider EU Operation Sophia. In previous missions the Naval Service has been operating under Operation Pontus which primarily focused on rescuing migrants from unseaworthy vessels. Since first beginning operations in 2015 the Naval Service has rescued over 16,000 people.
They will now be taking part in Operation Sophia which involves France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK. Operation Sophia is mandated by the UN and includes more proactive efforts to stop people smugglers before migrants are put out to sea on dangerous boats. The operation includes measures such as intelligence gathering, intercepting arms shipments as well as rescuing vulnerable migrants from perilous boats.
En route to the mission the LÉ Niamh will also be ferrying a special passenger. The injured turtle Sally, who has been cared for Oceanworld aquarium in Dingle for the past five months will be hitching a ride back home to the warm waters of the Mediterranean.