Burglar Steals Belongings From a Moored Patrol Ship at Irish Naval HQ

le eithne irish defence forces
LE Eithne (Irish Defence Forces)

Published Dec 9, 2021 8:12 PM by The Maritime Executive

Ireland's Defence Forces are investigating the circumstances of a burglary aboard a moored patrol ship at Haulbowline Naval Base, the service's naval headquarters, according to the Irish Mirror. 

At least one burglar managed to get past security, board the patrol ship LE Eithne and steal a variety of personal items - clothing, whiskey, medals, and other small goods. Part of this "haul" was discovered later behind a building, apparently discarded by the thief, a source told the Mirror.

The individual appears to have accessed the restricted base - which is situated on an island in Cork's harbor - and slipped away again undetected. The case is under investigation by the service's military police. 

The 1984-built LE Eithne is inactive and awaiting replacement. She was "withdrawn from operations . . . indefinitely due to a lack of personnel" in 2019, along with the smaller patrol vessel LÉ Orla. Eithne was reactivated to help with COVID relief in 2020, then laid up once more, and she has been inactive for most of the past year. Ireland's government is in the early stages of procuring a new successor for the vessel. 

Ireland's Naval Service has had long-running difficulties with manning, and according to its officers' association, the problem is not getting better. A recent scheduled sailing of the LÉ William Butler Yeats was reportedly delayed because a key crew position could not be filled. The service is coming up particularly short in technical billets in engineering and communications.

A member of the officers' association told the Irish Examiner that other government agencies pay three to five times as much for seagoing duty, drawing off servicemembers who want to earn more - and this dwindling headcount is placing more strain on those who remain.