'It's not easy being one of few Dubs amongst so many Cork crew members, says Raheny member of LE Eithne
Lt COLM Fox is in the minority on Ireland’s life-saving ship in the Mediterranean.
He’s one of the very few Dubliners on a ship packed with 46 crew members from Cork.
What is it like to be surrounded by so many Rebel County citizens?
“I’ve learned to cope with it,” says the Raheny man with a laugh.
Lt Fox is in charge of supplies on the LE Eithne – an important role during its recent mission to rescue desperate migrants attempting to make the dangerous crossing from North Africa to Europe.
There have been hundreds of extra mouths to feed, for one thing.
That’s before unusual items, such as personal protection suits for the crew and hundreds of foil blankets for the refugees, are taken into account.
On this mission, the 33-year-old is responsible for making sure that the ship has enough of everything, from nappies to milk formula for baby’s bottles.
He says the deployment to the Med is a stark contrast to patrolling Ireland’s rainy Atlantic coast.
“We’ve got used to it obviously, but we’re looking forward to getting back as it’s extremely hot,” he says.
His wife Amy Devlin and two children Iseult (8) and Sebastian (2) are also back home in Dublin and he’s “counting down the days” until he sees them.
“I miss them as well, obviously. One of the hardest parts for me has been being away from the family.
“It’s tough, but it’s been worth it to be out here and be able to help people, to do my part.”
Lt Fox, who is almost a decade in the Naval Service, went to school in St Paul’s Raheny. He played rugby, but sailing was where his ambitions lay.
“I was in a club down the country in Lough Derg and I did a bit locally as well.”
He was speaking as the LE Eithne was docked in Valletta, Malta, which is the logistics hub for the Irish mission and where Lt Fox sourced the necessary supplies.
His other duties include making sure migrants are put off at Italian ports in an orderly fashion and overseeing the clean-up on deck so the ship can resume its mission at sea – a process that takes about four hours.