24 Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Defence his views on whether the Naval Service, as a service to patrol and monitor Irish waters, is under-funded and under-equipped to do the job it is expected to do effectively; if he will make a statement on the fact that the Navy is the most under resourced Naval Service in Europe. [9195/99]
Written Answers. - Naval Service Funding.
In recent years considerable sums have been expended under the Defence Vote in updating Naval Service equipment. Total amounts spent on such equipment for the past four years are as follows: 1995, £4.3 million; 1996, £4.1 million; 1997, £10.1 million; and £15.5 million.
It is estimated that approximately £22.5 million will be spent on Naval Service equipment this year.
The more important developments in relation to the improvement of Naval Service equipment include the placing of a contract for a new fishery protection patrol vessel and the refit of five of the existing seven Naval Service vessels. The new vessel is due for delivery later this year and will cost approximately £22.5 million.
Refits involve replacing and-or refurbishing obsolete or deteriorated equipment and are necessary to extend the operational life of a vessel. Earlier this year a half-life refit of LE Eithne was completed in the naval dockyard, Haulbowline, at an estimated cost of £2.06 million. In previous years four other vessels –LE Emer, LE Deirdre, LE Aoife and LE Aisling– have been similarly refitted.
The two remaining vessels – LE Orla and LE Ciara– will undergo similar refurbishment over the next two years, with work starting on LE Orla later this year.
These refits have been facilitated on a part-cost recoupment basis under the European Union Fishery Protection Programmes.