LÉ Aoife (P22)

Aoife at Haulbowline in March 2008
Namesake: Aoife, step-mother to the children of Lir
Laid down: 3 July 1978
Launched: 12 April 1979
Commissioned: 29 November 1979
Decommissioned: 31 January 2015
Homeport: Haulbowline Naval Base
Identification: P22
Fate: Donated to Malta, 2015
Name: P62
Commissioned: 26 June 2015
Status: in active service
General characteristics
Class and type: Emer-class offshore patrol vessel
Displacement: 1019.5 tonnes standard
Length: 65.2 m (214 ft) overall
Beam: 10.5 m (34 ft)
Draught: 4.4 m (14 ft)
Speed: 31.5 km/h (17.0 kn) maximum
Complement: 46 (5 officers and 41 ratings )
  • 1 × Bofors 40 mm
  • 2 × Rheinmetall Rh202 20 mm cannons (removed before transfer to Malta)
  • 7.62 mm L7 GPMGs

Aoife (P22) of the Irish Naval Service, now known as P62 of the Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta, was built as an offshore patrol vessel in 1978.

Serving the Irish Naval Service since 1979, Aoife was decommissioned by Ireland in 2015, and donated to the Armed Forces of Malta. It was commissioned as the patrol boat P62 on 28 June 2015, and is currently Malta's largest naval vessel.[1]

Operational history

Irish service

Irish naval jack flying from bow of LÉ Aoife while at port in Dublin

Aoife was first commissioned when European Union (then EEC) funding became available in response to the extension of the Irish Exclusive Fisheries Zone from 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi) to 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi) in 1976.[2]

Together with sister ships  Deirdre (decommissioned in 2001),  Emer (decommissioned in 2013) and  Aisling (in active service), Aoife was built at Verolme Cork Dockyard.[3]

Originally named after Aoife, step-mother to the children of Lir, Aoife operated primarily as a fisheries protection vessel. Aoife also assisted however in emergency rescue operations and other naval support roles.

In 1986 Richard Branson's Virgin Challenger II was attempting to win the Blue Riband[note 1] by making the fastest Atlantic crossing.[4] Challenger left New York Harbour on 26 June 1986. She refueled, as prearranged, at an oil rig on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. However, four tons of water also entered her tanks. Soon, Challenger needed more fuel filters.[note 2] Branson's London control center requested help from the RAF. The Royal Navy did not have a ship in the area. Aoife, 160 miles distant, was informed. An RAF Nimrod dropped a canister of filters to Challenger. At 00:43 29 June, Aoife reached Virgin Challenger II.[5] Aoife's crew refueled Challenger which then proceeded to complete the voyage in a time of two hours and nine minutes shorter than the previous record. Branson invited representatives of the ships company to the celebrations in London, saying "We could not have succeeded without their help".

In October 2004, Aoife assisted in the rescue of the Canadian Forces submarine Chicoutimi off the north-western coast of Ireland.

In July 2007, Aoife assisted in the rescue of over 100 children taking part in a sailing regatta off Dun Laoghaire Harbour.[6]

Despite the ship's home port being Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour, it had a close relationship with the city of Waterford and its crew were involved in fund-raising for the children's ward of Waterford Regional Hospital.[7]

Aoife was decommissioned in Waterford on 31 January 2015 and later donated to Malta.[8][9]

Maltese service

P62 at Hay Wharf, Malta

Aoife was commissioned into the Maritime Squadron of the Armed Forces of Malta on 28 June 2015, and given the pennant number P62. It is the largest vessel in the Maritime Squadron, being larger than the flagship, the Diciotti-class offshore patrol boat P61.[1] It arrived in Malta in November 2015,[10] intended initially for use in humanitarian operations in the Mediterranean.[11]


  1. or so his publicity material claimed, which he could as the Blue Riband is an unofficial accolade. General opinion is that it is limited to ships on a regular passenger carrying westward voyage
  2. These fuel filters were blocks of foam encased in a rubber skin. Diesel fuel can pass through them while water is trapped in the foam. After thirty minutes they have to be replaced. They can, as in this event, be drained of water and reused, but it is for decreasing shorter periods of time


  1. 1 2 "Malta flag raised on former Irish patrol vessel". Times of Malta. 28 June 2015. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  2. "A History of the Naval Service". National Maritime College of Ireland. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  3. "Former Aoife Arrives As 'P62' New Flagship of Maltese Navy". Afloat Magazine. 28 November 2015.
  4. MacGinty, Tom (1995). The Irish Navy. Tralee: Kerryman. p. 215. ISBN 0946277222.
  5. Pike, Dag (15 Feb 1988). The challenge of the Atlantic: man's battle with the world's toughest ocean. Patrick Stephens. p. 178. ISBN 1852600020. It was midnight before we came up to the Aoife with her lights blazing in the middle of the Atlantic. It was a welcome sight and despite the heavy swell and the difficult conditions they did a remarkably efficient job of passing the fuel across. They also provided us with some excellent hot Irish stew which revived our flagging spirits and within half an hour we were off ...
  6. "News and Events". 62 Reserve Artillery Regiment. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  7. "The Mayor of Waterford, Cllr Mary O'Halloran, accompanied by Lt.Cdr. Brian Dempsey, inspects a guard of honour at the Naval Vessel L.E. AOIFE whilst docked in Waterford.". eircom.net. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  8. Brophy, Daragh (19 February 2015). "We've just given Malta a naval ship, instead of selling it". thejournal.ie. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  9. "Ireland and Malta to explore further defence co-operation in the context of European security, peacekeeping and crisis management operations". Department of Defence. 19 February 2015. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  10. "The P62 arrives in Malta from Ireland". Television Malta (TVM). 28 November 2015.
  11. "LÉ Aoife en route to Malta to help with migrant crisis". RTÉ News. 21 November 2015.
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