The former Naval Service vessel, LÉ Aisling, was the subject of a report by the UN panel of experts on Libya. The report found that the decommissioned vessel, which was sold by public auction on 23 March 2017 and subsequently disposed of to a Libyan military commander, Khalifa Haftar, represents a breach of a UN arms embargo by a company in the United Arab Emirates. There is no lack of controls at the Department regarding the disposal of obsolete equipment that is no longer fit for its intended purpose, including the former Naval Service vessel, LÉ Aisling.
Naval Service vessels are withdrawn from service when they have come to the end of their useful life, which in the normal course is expected to be approximately 20 to 25 years. The decommissioned vessel, LÉ Aisling, was withdrawn from service in 2016 after being in service since 1980, having well exceeded her notional life expectancy. In engineering terms, the equipment on board was obsolete and the reliability and capability of the ship was impacted. In order for the Naval Service to carry out its roles as assigned by the Government, the fleet must be capable, reliable and safe to operate in the often hostile north Atlantic Ocean, where sea conditions during prolonged winter storms are not surpassed anywhere in the world.
Following her decommissioning in 2016, I made the decision to sell the former LÉ Aisling by public auction to the highest bidder to maximise the return to the Exchequer. This was in keeping with the Department's standing policy for the disposal of surplus defensive equipment, and in accordance with the Comptroller and Auditor General’s 2015 report, which stated:
[A] competitive sales process or auction should normally be used for the disposal of State assets with a significant market value. Such a process helps to ensure transparency and is more likely to achieve the fair market price.
All weaponry systems, defensive equipment and specialist naval equipment were removed in their entirety from the decommissioned vessel prior to the sale.