TWO Irish-built and designed navy patrol ships are to be sold off after 40 years of service.
LE Emer and sister ship LE Aoife were built between 1978 and 1980 in the Verolme dockyard, in Cobh, Co Cork.
The first ship of four in the Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) class built in Cork in 1972, the LE Deirdre, was decommissioned in 2001 and sold for €190,000. She was later converted into a luxury yacht.
The two ships will be replaced by two new OPVs – in a contract worth more than €99m – which are being built for the Naval Service at Appledore shipyard in Devon in the UK.
The first of the new ships is scheduled for delivery early next year. The second will follow in 2015.
LE Emer undertook the first ever deployment of an Irish naval ship to resupply Irish troops serving with the United Nations in Lebanon in 1978.
The Aoife played a major role in locating the flight recorder of the Air India Boeing 747 Jumbo airliner, which crashed off the Irish south coast in 1985 after a bomb explosion, killing 329 people on board.
The Department of Defence is seeking expressions of interest for the sale of Emer and Aoife by May 23 next.
The two new OPVs are designed to serve for up to 40 years, mainly in the North Atlantic, out to Ireland's 200 mile European Economic Zone limit and beyond.