My Department's Vote for 2009 includes an amount of €5m which has been allocated towards the purchase of new Offshore Patrol Vessels for the Naval Service.
This funding has been ear-marked as a down-payment to be made upon the signing of a contract with the preferred bidder who emerged following a recent tender competition organised by my Department.
The Naval Vessel Replacement Programme will be considered as part of the Estimates and budgetary process for 2010. A contract cannot be signed until Government approval has been granted.
Subject to a Government decision on the matter, I would anticipate that the construction of the new vessels would commence a number of months after a contract is signed.