November 24, 2014 - The James Joyce, the second Offshore Patrol Vessel being built for the Irish Navy, is floated at the Babcock Appledore Shipyard. A third sister ship has also been ordered. (Babcock photo) The second of the Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) being built by Babcock for the Irish Naval Service, LÉ James Joyce, was floated for the first time yesterday, 23 November 2014, at Babcock’s Appledore shipyard in North Devon, marking a significant milestone in the build programme.
Almost exactly a year after the keel was laid (on 4 November 2013) this second vessel is now 92% complete, with power being generated by the ship’s machinery. Ship’s lighting and forward and aft capstans were activated and used during the float-up. The ship will now be berthed alongside for final outfit, followed by trials, test and commissioning, prior to handover to the Irish Naval Service early in the new year.
The 90 metre, 2256 tonne OPV has autonomous engine rooms and is capable of a top speed of 23 knots, and a range of 6,000 nautical miles at its cruise speed of 15 knots on a single engine. The propulsion system utilises a diesel electric drive system providing a loiter function of up to 6 knots. A comprehensive command, control and communications package is coupled to the main weapon; a 76mm gun, as well as two 20mm cannons and four general purpose machine guns.
The OPV is also equipped with configurable, serviced mission modules, with deck space to operate mission specific equipment, and to act as a mother ship for two fully independent fast pursuit Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats (RIBs). The vessel – which accommodates a crew of 44, plus ten trainee berths, to high comfort and habitability standards – is designed to provide an operational capability for many years of service in the North Atlantic, its main area of operation.
Babcock Shipbuilding Director, Andrew Hamilton, said: “We are delighted to have achieved this important and highly visible milestone to quality, budget and schedule, demonstrating our innovation and capability in this field. We will now be focusing on completion of the programme, ready for sea trials and then handover of a further highly capable OPV to the Irish Naval Service on-time and in-budget in early 2015. Work is also now underway on the third OPV, with first steel cut in September this year and keel laying scheduled for April 2015.”
LÉ James Joyce will join LÉ Samuel Becket, now operational following delivery by Babcock to the Irish Naval Service earlier this year. The OPVs will undertake a range of duties including fishery protection, search and rescue, anti-pollution and maritime security duties, including vessel boardings.
Babcock was awarded the contract to build the two OPVs by Ireland’s Department of Defence in 2010, with the option to build a third being confirmed in June this year for delivery to the Irish Naval Service in summer 2016.