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Defence Forces Deployment of Naval Service Vessel LÉ William Butler Yeats to EUNAVFORMED (ENFM) OPERATION IRINI

L.É. William Butler Yeats will deploy as the Irish contribution to EUNAVFOR MED Operation Irini on Thursday 15th June. The ship will be tasked with Information, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) operations as well as Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) Operations during the 6-week deployment. The Naval Service has developed experience through engagement with previous missions namely OP PONTUS (2015-2017) and ENFM OP SOPHIA (2018).

The ship departs this Thursday 15th of June, returning from deployment on the 30th of July. The crew is made up of 58 sailors (53 males & 5 females) with a variety of experience. There are a number of crew who were involved in previous deployments (PONTUS and Op SOPHIA), however for the majority of the crew this will be their first overseas deployment. 


L.É. William Butler Yeats will deploy to the Mediterranean as the Irish contribution to ENFM OP IRINI in addition to the three (3) Defence Forces personnel currently deployed to the Operational Headquarters in Rome and Force Headquarters. 

Primary Roles of Operation IRINI: 

1. Prevention of arms trafficking in the Area of Operations in accordance with UNSCR 1970 (2011) and subsequent resolutions on the arms embargo on Libya, including UNSCR 2292 (2016 and UNSCR 2473 (2019). 

2. Contributing to the implementation of UN Measures to prevent illicit export of petroleum from Libya in accordance with UNSCR 216 (2014) and subsequent resolutions, notably UNSCR 2509 (2020). 

Unlike Operation PONTUS and Operation Sophia, which were more focused on humanitarian operations, Operation Irini will be focused more on Counter illicit arms trafficking (CIAT) Operations in the Mediterranean. 


Ships Captain: Lt Cdr Alan Flynn 

Lt/Cdr Flynn is a native of Tuam Co. Galway and a graduate of St. Jarlath’s College. He joined the Navy in 2001 as a recruit and subsequently joined the 42nd Naval Cadet Class in 2002. He was Commissioned as an Ensign in 2004. He completed his Bachelors Degree in Nautical Science at the National Maritime College of Ireland, Cork and joined the Fleet as Gunnery Officer L.E. ROISIN in 2009.

Since then Alan has completed a number of rotations at sea, the most recent being his appointment as Executive Officer and 2I/C L.E. SAMUEL BECKETT. Before taking up Command of L.E. W.B.YEATS Alan held the position of Naval Service Assistant Provost Marshal and Officer in Charge Naval Service Military Police Section.
This deployment to the Mediterranean will be his third deployment to the region since 2015. In 2015 he served on board L.E. NIAMH as Search and Rescue Officer for OPERATION PONTUS and in 2018 he served on board L.E. SAMUEL BECKETT as Executive Officer and 2I/C for OPERATION SOPHIA.

Alan currently lives in Carrigaline, Co. Cork with his wife Donna and two young sons Tadhg (6) and Cillian (3).

Coxn: CPO/Sea Thomas Kiely (most senior NCO onboard) 

Joined NS Dec 1999 (over 23 years’ service) 

Originally from Clonmel, currently living in Castlemartyr with wife (Emma) and three children. 

Personnel deployed in Rome with OP IRINI  

Commander (OF-4) Frank O'Connor - CJ3 (Operations) Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff - Acts as deputy to the Asst Chief of Staff. 

Responsible for updating the OHQ Command Group each morning on the operational status, activities, and planned activities of all mission assets and for the compilation & co-ordination of daily and weekly reports. Acts as the Senior National Representative for Ireland to the Operation. 

Bio: Joined the Naval Service in 1994 as an Operations Branch Cadet. Commissioned in 1996 and held a number of appointments afloat and at sea, including as Officer Commanding LE CIARA and later Officer Commanding LE GEORGE BERNARD SHAW. Prior to deployment, was Officer in Charge of Personnel Management Section, Naval Service. This is his second Overseas deployment, having previously served in the International Security Assistance Force (Afghanistan). 

Captain (OF-2) Jason McDermott - CJ2 (Intelligence) Theatre Collator Officer. 

Collates and supervises inputs to the air picture analysis relevant to the Operation. Co-ordinates and supervises air analysis input into weekly and monthly reports. 

Bio: Joined the Air Corps in 2005 and was Commissioned in 2008. Qualified as a helicopter pilot, and served as an aircraft Captain on an AW139 Helo in No. 3 Operations Wing, immediately prior to deployment. This is his first Overseas deployment. 

Chief Petty Officer (OR-7) Jeremiah Foley - CJ1 (Personnel) Personnel Specialist. 

Co-ordinates the in processing of personnel due to, and deploying on, the Operation, and the out processing of personnel rotating home. 

Bio: Joined the Army Apprentice School in 1985 and transferred to the Naval Service in 1988, qualifying as an Engine Room Artificer (ERA), and additionally, as an Armourer. He has served afloat aboard a wide variety of ships in his long career, including two rotations as Chief ERA aboard LE EITHNE and LE CIARA. This is his third Overseas deployment, having served in 74 Inf Bn UNIFIL, and his second deployment to OHQ Operation IRINI. 


In support of the deployment, the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Lieutenant General Seán Clancy stated,  

 “The deployment of LÉ WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS on OP IRINI will provide the operation with highly skilled and capable personnel with experience in Maritime Defence and Security Operations (MDSO) throughout Ireland’s maritime domain and on previous overseas missions - OP PONTUS and SOPHIA." 

  He added,  

“This deployment is crucial to the regeneration of Ireland’s Navy and is directly linked with our efforts to recruit, retain and incentivise seagoing.”  

Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service, Commodore Michael Malone, stated  

“With ambitions for the expansion of the Naval Service as outlined in the Commission on the Defence Forces report, this deployment presents an opportunity to build on the experiences gained through previous maritime overseas missions. Our sailors bring vital experience to bear in what remains a dynamic operational role.”  



CSDP                          - Common Security Defence Policy  

EUNAVFORMED     - European Union Naval Force in the Mediterranean  

ENFM                         - European Union Naval Force in the Mediterranean   


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