Tuesday May 4, 2010

The Irish Naval Service vessel L.E. Niamh has set sail on a 10 week mission to Latin America. Latin American countries celebrate the 200th anniversary of their independence this year, and the deployment takes place in support of Ireland’s ongoing trade and diplomatic links with the region. Many Irishmen and women were associated with the achievement of independence, including Admiral William Brown, the ‘father of the Argentine Navy.’

Following her departure tomorrow, the L.E. Niamh will undertake a four hour refuelling stop in Tenerife on the 6th of May, before reaching her first South American Port, Rio De Janerio, on the 15th of May. Activities to strengthen the ties between Brazil and Ireland and to encourage trade will take place during this visit. Support will also be given to the Irish Government’s sponsorship of the children’s project in Sao Goncalo. This project involves the construction of a new building to care for vulnerable children. The ship's company will be using their technical expertise and considerable muscle to advance the building, in addition to donating toys, clothes and books brought from Ireland.

The next port of call will be Buenos Aires in Argentina on the 23rd of May. This will be the main focus of the bi-centenary celebrations, which will involve naval vessels from other American countries. The L.E. Niamh has been afforded pride of place among this flotilla which is indicative of the high esteem in which Ireland and her small Navy is held by Argentina. During this visit, the Navy will be re-establishing its ties with the Admiral Brown primary school up the River Plate in Loslaureolls. In 2006, the crew of the L.E. Eithne installed a donated generator in the School.

The Chilean port of Puente Arenas in the Magellan Strait near Cape Horn will be the next stop for the L.E. Niamh on the 1st of June. It was from here that Ernest Shackleton finally set sail to rescue his stranded crew on Elephant Island following an unsuccessful attempt to cross the Antarctic in his 1914-16 expedition . Petty Officer Tom Crean from Annascual played a leading role in this expedition, which included an epic voyage from Elephant Island to South Georgia in search of help. The L.E. Niamh will be the first Irish Naval Service vessel to sail this far south.

Having navigated the Magellan Straits, the ship enters the Pacific Ocean heading for Valparaiso in Chile, where she is due to dock on the 7th of June. This visit will again strengthen ties between Chile and Ireland, acknowledging the significant role Irishmen and women played in its independence.

From Valparaiso, the L.E Niamh will head for the Panama canal, and will be the first Irish Naval vessel to transit on the 17th of June. The transit will take the entire day. Once she is back in the Atlantic Ocean, L.E. Niamh will sail to Veracruz on the Mexican Gulf coast, arriving on the 22nd of June. Here the ship will complete a busy schedule designed to strengthen the links between the two countries, and to encourage trade and marketing opportunities.

The Veracruz visit is scheduled to coincide with the International Tall Ship regatta which celebrates independence. The ship and her crew will be full participants in the event, representing Ireland.

L.E. Niamh will leave Veracruz on the 28th of June and is due to arrive in Miami, her final port of the deployment, on the 1st of July.

The links between Ireland and the US are self-evident, and this visit will highlight the trade and investment opportunities Ireland offers to the US. The ship will leave for Ireland on the 5th of July, having participated in US independence celebrations on the 4th.

L.E. Niamh is due back into Cork on the 14th of July.

Press Officer: Comdt. Neil Nolan 01 8042687 : 087 2482130


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