As the Deputy will be aware, the Naval Service is the State's principal sea-going agency tasked with a variety of defence and other roles. In this context, I would highlight the security role of the Naval Service, a role which by its nature can go unrecognised or unacknowledged. I am advised that the fleet is managed to ensure maximum availability to meet operational requirements.
The Naval Service has nine ships. Two ships are currently in operational reserve but can be called upon for surge operations in times of national emergency, as was the case when a ship was taken out of operational reserve and deployed to Cork City for COVID-19 support to the HSE for a number of weeks last year. In addition one ship is in the process of a mid-life re-fit which is expected to last 18 - 24 months. There are 6 operational ships that remain available at present.
The Deputy will appreciate that, for operational and security reasons, it would not be appropriate to disclose details of the operational deployment of any individual vessel in the Naval Service. I can assure the Deputy that notwithstanding current challenges being experienced, the Naval Service continues to carry out the roles assigned by Government, including fishery protection and maritime security operations.