Irish Naval Service vessels were first deployed as part of 'Operation Pontus' in May 2015 to assist the Italian authorities with the migrant crisis. This was a humanitarian search and rescue mission conducted in accordance with a bilateral agreement with the Italian authorities and in accordance with the applicable international conventions on the rescue of persons in distress at sea.
In 2015, L.É. Niamh deployed from July to September and during its deployment, rescued a total of 4,127 migrants from unseaworthy vessels. I am advised by the Defence Forces that in the course of the event in question on 5 August 2015 involving L.É. Niamh, no wristbands were applied to persons rescued by personnel on L.É. Niamh. I am also advised that the Naval Service cannot stand over the provenance of the photograph used in the article in question and which is credited to 'Irish Navy'.
The deployment of Irish Naval Service vessels on a humanitarian search and rescue mission in the Mediterranean over the period 2015 to 2017 has been an important element in Ireland's response to the migration crises in the Mediterranean.
L.É. Samuel Beckett is currently deployed in the Mediterranean as part of the UN mandated EU naval security operation, 'Operation Sophia' and will be replaced in mid-July by L.É. James Joyce.