Other Questions - Naval Service Operations

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 4

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  10.  Deputy Martin Ferris  Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris   asked the Minister for Defence  Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter   the costs of any visits outside of Irish waters by any of the Naval Service vessels during each of the past five years; the locations to which they sailed; and the purposes of these sailings. [6836/12]

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  The Naval Service commits a number of its annual patrol days to foreign deployments. In 2011, 54 days out of a total of 1,480 patrol days were committed to visits outside Irish waters. Following discussions between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, my Department, and the Naval Service, locations are considered on the basis of the optimum yield that can be derived for Ireland.

The tabular statement contains information on the locations visited by the Naval Service over the past five years and the purpose of these deployments. Details of the costs in relation to these visits are also included for 2010 and 2011, and the costs in relation to 2007 to 2009, inclusive, are currently being compiled. I will ensure that the outstanding data are forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

Year Destination Purpose of Visit Cost
2007 Oslo, Copenhagen, Klaipeida, Kiel (vessel 1) For diplomatic purposes and also both voyages were structured to facilitate high intensity training of Naval Service Cadets and Officers over short period of time.
Oslo, Aalborg, Gdansk, Kiel (vessel 2)
Malaga, Burgas, Constanta, Valetta For diplomatic purposes
Zeebrugge, Belgium For cultural purposes (Naval Service invited to attend Belgian Navy Days — a celebration of the Belgian Naval Service.)
Rotterdam, Netherlands For diplomatic purposes
London, UK For cultural and diplomatic purposes (Naval Service participated in St. Patrick's Day festivities)
Bilbao, Spain For diplomatic purposes
Bordeaux, France For economic purposes (Requested by Enterprise Ireland)
Toronto, Canada For diplomatic, cultural and economic purposes (President McAleese opening of Famine Park Toronto)
2008 Miami, Charleston For economic purposes (Host receptions for business communities attending cruise ship convention)
Mediterranean/Black Sea For diplomatic and cultural purposes (Maritime Festival)
Canada (Quebec/ Montreal/Halifax) For diplomatic and cultural purposes (Quebec 400 celebrations)
Kiel, Hamburg For economic purposes (Kiel Week and Enterprise Ireland event in Hamburg)
Zeebrugge, Belgium For cultural purposes (Naval Service invited to attend Belgian Navy Days — a celebration of the Belgian Naval Service.)
Liverpool For diplomatic and cultural purposes (City of Culture)
Lisbon For operational purposes (Headquarters of “Maritime — Analysis and Operational Centre — Narcotics”)
La Rochelle, France For economic purposes (Annual Boat Show — invite from Fáilte Ireland)
2009 London For cultural and diplomatic purposes (Naval Service participated in St. Patrick's Day festivities)
Edinburgh For training and operational purposes (Hosting a Fisheries Operations Coordination meeting with the Scottish authorities)
Helsinki For cultural and diplomatic purposes (200th Anniversary of Finnish independence)
Boston/Philadelphia For cultural and diplomatic purposes (Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge and commemoration for Admiral Browne)
Oporto For diplomatic purposes (Standing invitation from Portuguese)
2010 South America — Argentina/Chile/ Mexico/Colombia For cultural, economic and diplomatic purposes (Requested by Dept of An Taoiseach — Bicentennial celebrations of Argentina and Chile) €331,257
Zeebrugge, Belgium For cultural purposes (Naval Service invited to attend Belgian Navy Days — a celebration of the Belgian Naval Service.) €18,535
Copenhagen, Denmark For diplomatic purposes (500th Anniversary of Danish Navy) €6,602
La Rochelle, France For economic purposes (Annual Boat Show — invite from Fáilte Ireland) €7,721
2011 Oslo, Kiel, Hamburg For diplomatic, cultural and economic purposes (Requested by Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade). €44,093
Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn, Riga For diplomatic, cultural and economic purposes (Requested by Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade — Helsinki visit built on the success of previous visit in 2009. Tallinn was European Capital of Culture in 2011. Riga was a stopover). €44,770
Brest For operational and training purposes (Joint Deployment Patrol with the Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA)) €5,508
Greenock For cultural purposes (Tall Ships communications vessel) €4,722
Brest For operational and training purposes (North Atlantic Coast Guard Forum (NACGF) exercises) €6,072

The costs shown reflect the marginal costs of these trips when compared to the costs that would have arisen if the ships had patrolled in Irish waters for the same periods.

Deputy Jonathan O’Brien: Information on Jonathan O'Brien  Zoom on Jonathan O'Brien  Before I ask a supplementary question, I wish to echo the sentiments expressed by Deputy Calleary about the role of the Naval Service in Glandore which has brought home to the public the importance of the Naval Service and the credit due to the personnel for what they have undertaken in Glandore.

The Minister referred to the locations being chosen with regard to the optimum yield to be derived for Ireland. Are these optimum yields in terms of training or promotion? What criteria are applied during discussions with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade? Are the benefits of these trips solely for the Naval Service personnel or do they also aim to promote Ireland as a destination? Are these criteria taken into account when these decisions are made?

Deputy Alan Shatter: Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I join with both Deputies in acknowledging the extraordinary work following the dreadful tragedy that occurred in Glandore. I refer not just to the work of the Naval Service but of all those individuals and agencies which have been engaged in dealing with a tragedy which we all wish had not happened.

To reply to the Deputy’s question, the particular visits or voyages serve a range of purposes. For example, the voyages offer an ideal opportunity to reach out to the Irish diaspora around the world in an effort to attract inward direct investment to our economy. A naval ship offers the ideal platform for State agencies such as Enterprise Ireland to host receptions attended by local business interests where relationships can be developed. However, I am also cognisant of the costs of deploying the Naval Service to foreign locations and in 2011 I approved only those deployments which I believed yielded the optimum economic, diplomatic and cultural return.

I will give the Deputy some examples of the visits arranged, all of which are detailed in the tabular return. In 2007, before my time as Minister, the Naval Service undertook a visit to Oslo and Copenhagen for diplomatic purposes. Voyages and training visits were structured to facilitate high intensity training of Naval Service cadets and officers. Visits were made to Malaga, Burgas, Constanta and Valetta for diplomatic purposes. A visit was made to Zeebrugge in Belgium for cultural purposes. Further information is contained in the tabular statement. I refer to more recent visits such as a visit to Hamburg for diplomatic, cultural and economic purposes and which was requested by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; a visit to Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn and Riga, for diplomatic, cultural and economic purposes at [616]the request of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The Helsinki visit built on the success of a previous visit by the Naval Service to Helsinki in 2009. Tallinn was the European capital of culture in 2011 and Riga was visited on the way. There is a series of visits for a range of different purposes and they are either training-related or are related to diplomatic, cultural or economic activities or trade promotions in order to attract business to Ireland.


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