Naval ship sails to Med to help rescue migrants
A third Naval Service ship is heading for the Mediterranean to extend Ireland's migrant rescue mission.
The patrol vessel LE Samuel Beckett left Haulbowline in Cork Harbour yesterday on its first overseas deployment.
While the crew are looking forward to their humanitarian mission, they said they hoped to be home for Christmas.
The LE Samuel Beckett was commissioned only 18 months ago, but its captain, Lt Cmdr Tony Geraghty, said the 59 crew members were well prepared for the challenges ahead.
"We have had valuable feedback from the experiences of the LE Eithne and LE Niamh out there," he said.
"We have also been preparing for this for the past five weeks and we are aiming to continue to do Ireland proud in fulfilling this important humanitarian mission."
LE Samuel Beckett will remain on station off the north African coast for three months and is due back in Ireland on December 18.
To date, Irish Naval Service ships have helped save almost 7,000 migrants.
"We're hoping Santa will get the ship and crew back home in time for Christmas," said Lt Cmdr Geraghty.
LE Samuel Beckett is carrying an extra consignment of toys for any migrant children rescued.
It was an emotional day at Haulbowline for the families of the crew, many of whom had gathered at the dockside.
Kinga Schwartau was there to say goodbye to her husband, Leading Medic John Schwartau.
John, from Cloyne, east Cork, will face one of the most demanding duties in providing medical assistance to the migrants rescued.
"I'm very proud of him and I know everyone on the ship will do their duty out there. All I want now is for John to get back home safe before Christmas," said Kinga.
Defence Minister Simon Coveney vowed that Ireland will continue to play its part in the humanitarian campaign.
LE Niamh is due back in Cork on October 2.