The provision of a naval service for the fledgling Irish Free State in 1922,was fraught with problems. Under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Ireland was not allowed to raise it's own naval force, but had to rely on the protection of the Royal Navy.
This was demonstrated during the Irish Civil War, when British Naval forces provided both armaments and intelligence for the Free State forces against the Irregulars. British Destroyers patrolled the coasts and provided searchlights and star-shell support to Free State defenders under attack in Kerry and elsewhere.
After the uneasy truce of 1923, permission was given for a small maritime force, ostensibly for fishery protection, but also as patrol craft guarding against arms landings for the IRA (Irish Republican Army) which was still a threat to the new State.
This appears to have been a failure, using a collection of ex-minesweeping trawlers, wooden 80ft motor launches and and a rescue tug. It was disbanded within a year and the vessels either sold or scrapped. It must be remembered that this was in the context of a government that could not even afford to maintain old-age pensions.
Fishery protection in this era was a disaster, with fleets of foreign (and native) trawlers having scant disregard for any rules and regulations regarding commercial fishing.
It was decided that one vessel the Muirchu (ex-HMS Helga) would be Ireland's sole fishery protection vessel. This craft, unarmed until 1936, was under the control of the Department of Agriculture. This was the extent of Ireland's COASTAL AND MARINE SERVICE
In 1938, Ireland gained full control of the Treaty Ports and the right to her own navy.The Muirchu, was joined in fishery protection duties by the trawler Fort Rannoch.
In 1939, with the outbreak of war the MARINE AND COASTWATCHING SERVICE was established. The Irish Government ordered 6 Motor Torpedo Boats from Britain. This was not without criticism, as it would be hard to find a craft, less suited to the turbulent seas of Ireland (see feature on US Subchasers ). They were joined by the MV Shark, formerly a salvage vessel, and the three-masted fore and aft schooner Isaalt
It was not until 1946 that the Irish Naval Service was established. The first ships were three ex - Royal Navy Flower Class Corvettes, which provided sterling service for the nation.
Again, a remarkable lack of political will ensured that this fleet was not updated until 24 years later in 1970, with the purchase of three coastal minesweepers, again from the Royal Navy.
Since then the naval Service has gone from strength to strength. It has a proud tradition of service to the Irish nation. The island of Haulbowline in Cork Harbour, serves as the headquarters of the Irish Naval Service. It comprises of oil wharf, basin, workshops,accomodation, communications , stores and administration.
The main duty of the Navy has always been as a Fisheries Protection Service. It has also performed valuable service in the rescue of life, and during disasters such as the Air India disaster off the West coast of Cork in June 1985.
The Navy has also been involved in the interception of terrorist arms cargoes and drugs shipments to Ireland. It has also provided logistics to Irish Forces serving overseas with the United Nations.
|Dainty||Admiralty rescue Tug||1923. Formerly HMT Dainty. Built by Finch, Chepstow, in 1918. Disposed 1924.|
|Muirchu||Fishery Protection Vessel||1922, formerly HMS Helga. Built by Dublin Dockyard 1908. Disposed 1947.|
|John Dunn||Mersey Class Armed Trawler||1923, HMT John Dunn. Built by Ferguson, Port Glasgow, 1918.|
|John Dutton||Mersey Class Armed Trawler||1923. formerly HMT John Dutton. Built by Ferguson,Port Glasgow, 1918.Disposed 1924.|
|William Horner||Mersey Class Armed Trawler||1923. Formerly HMT William Horner. Built by Ferguson, Port Glasgow, 1918.Disposed 1924.|
|Robert Murray||Mersey Class Armed Trawler||1923. Built by Cochrane of Selby, 1919.Disposed 1924.|
|Thomas Thresher||Mersey Class Armed Trawler||1923.Built by Cochrane of Selby. 1918. Disposed 1924.|
|Christopher Dixon||Mersey Class Armed Trawler||1923. Built by Chchrane of Selby, 1919.Disposed 1924.|
|TR24||Formerly HMT25. Canadian Castle Class Armed Trawler.||1923.Built by Vickers, Montreal, 1917.Disposed 1924.|
|TR25||Canadian Castle Class Armed Trawler.||1923.Formerly HMT25. Built by Vickers, Montreal. 1918. Disposed 1924.|
|TR27||Canadian Castle Class Armed Trawler||1923. Formerly HMT TR27. Built by Vickers Montreal 1918. Disposed 1924.|
|TR29||Canadian Castle Class Armed Trawler||1923. Formerly HMT TR29. Built by Vickers, Montreal 1918.Disposed 1924.|
|TR30||Canadian Castle Class Armed Trawler||1923. Formerly HMT TR30. Built by Vickers, Montreal, 1918.Disposed 1924.|
|TR31||Canadian Castle Class Armed Trawler||1923 . Formerly HMT TR31.Built by Vickers, Montreal, 1918.Disposed 1924.|
|Inisherer||Drifter||1922. Disposed 1924.|
|John S. Somers||Drifter||1922. Formerly HMD John S.Somers . Disposed 1924.|
|ML1||Moror Launch||1922. Disposed 1924.|
|ML2||Motor Launch||1922. Disposed 1924.|
|ML3||Motor Launch||1922. Disposed 1924.|
|Fort Rannoch||Trawler||1937. Disposed 1947|
|M1||Motor Torpedo Boat||1940. Disposed 1948|
|M2||Motor Torpedo Boat||1940. Disposed 1948|
|M3||Motor Torpedo Boat||1940. Disposed 1948|
|M4||Motor Torpedo Boat||1942. Disposed 1948.|
|M5||Motor Torpedo Boat||1942. Disposed 1948.|
|M6||Motor Torpedo Boat||1943. Disposed 1948.|
|MPV Shark||Ex-Salvage Vessel||1940. Formerly Shark, (of Palmers,Ringaskiddy)|
|TV Isallt||Sail Training Vessel (fore and aft schooner)||1940. Disposed 1945.|
|LE Macha||Flower Class Corvette||1946. Formerly HMS Borage (1942). Disposed 1970.|
|LE Cliona||Flower Class Corvette||1947. Formerly HMS Bellwort (1941). Disposed 1970.|
|LE Maev||Flower Class Corvette||1947. Formerly HMS Oxlip (1941). Disposed 1972|
|LE Grainne||ConistonClass Coastal Minesweeper||1971. Formerly HMS Oulston (1956) Disposed 1985.|
|LE Banba||ConistonClass Coastal Minesweeper||1971. Formerly HMS Alverton (1954). Disposed 1983|
|LE Fola (CM12)||ConistonClass Coastal Minesweeper||1971. Formerly HMS Blaxton (1955). Disposed 1986|
|LE Deirdre (P20)||Offshore Patrol Vessel||1972. Disposed 2001|
|LE Emer (P21)||Offshore Patrol Vessel||1977. Disposed 2013|
|LE Aoife (P22)||Offshore Patrol Vessel||1979 . Disposed 2015|
|LE Aisling (P23)||Offshore Patrol Vessel||1980. Disposed 2016.|
|LE Eithne (P31)||Helicopter Patrol Vessel||1984|
|LE Orla (P41)||Peacock Class Patrol Vessel||Formerly HMS Swift (1985) Disposed 1989|
|LE Ciara (P42)||Peacock Class Patrol Vessel||Formerly HMS Swallow (1984) Disposed 1989|
|LE Setanta (A15)||Patrol and Training Vessel||1976. Formerly Isolda (1953) -(for Commissioners of Irish Lights). Built by Liffey Dockyard Dublin. Disposed 1984|
|LE Ferdia (A16) 1977 1977||Stern Trawler used as Patrol Vessel||Helen Basse (1965)|
|LE Roisin (P51)||Offshore Patrol Vessel||1999|
|LE Niamh (P52)||Offshore Patrol Vessel||2001|
|LE Samuel Beckett (P61)||Offshore Patrol Vessel||2014|
|LE James Joyce (P62)||Offshore Patrol Vessel||2015|
|LE William Butler Yeats (P63)||Offshore Patrol Vessel||2016|
|LE George Bernard Shaw (P64)||Offshore Patrol Vessel||2016|
Wrecks over 100 years old and archaeological objects found underwater are protected under the National Monuments (Amendment) Acts 1987 and 1994. Significant wrecks less than 100 years old can be designated by Underwater Heritage Order (UHO) on account of their historical, archaeological or artistic importance as is the case with the wreck of the RMS Lusitania lost off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915. UHOs can also be used to designate areas of seabed or land covered by water to more clearly define and protect wreck sites and archaeological objects. Under the legislation all diving on known protected wreck sites or with the intention of searching for underwater cultural heritage is subject to licensing requirements. https://www.archaeology.ie/underwater-archaeology