LÉ George Bernard Shaw (pennant number P64) is the fourth and final ship of the P60 class vessels built for the Naval Service in Babcock Marine Appledore, Devon. In keeping with the ethos of a continuous learning organisation, she contains a number of minor improvements over her sister ships, aimed primarily at improving energy efficiency whilst still maintaining effectiveness. She is designed as on Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), with the endurance and capability to defend Ireland’s interests at, and from, any sea in the world.
The ship was accepted into State service in October 2018, and, following a military fit-out, has commenced Maritime Defence and Security Operations at sea.
The ship is named after one of Ireland’s most celebrated and well-known playwrights, critics and intellectuals – George Bernard Shaw. Born in Dublin in 1856, Shaw spent virtually all his working life in England, where he first became known as a music and drama critic. His prodigious intellect saw him write numerous plays, become engaged in politics (his experience of the poverty of inner-city Dublin left him with a particular interest in the welfare of children and the poor), and always take the role of the outsider – amongst, but not of, the high society of England at the turn of the 20th Century. He is only one of two people to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize and an Academy Award (Oscar), a distinction which reflects his intellect, which was developed in Victorian society, but was always progressive and modern: indeed, even post-modern, at times.
The ship’s crest follows the standard pattern of others in the fleet. At the top right is a geographical touchstone related to the individual after whom the ship is named – in this case, a Georgian door of the type found on the terraced house where Shaw grew up in Dublin. At bottom left is an image depicting the life or work of that individual. The man removing the thorn from the paw of the lion is the title character of “Androcles and the Lion”, a Shavian play based on one of Aesop’s fables. Androcles, an escaped slave, takes refuge in a cave. He becomes aware of a lion in the cave, who is in distress – a thorn in his paw has become infected and he cannot remove it. Androcles, overcoming his fear of the beast, removes the thorn and nurses the lion back to health. Years later, when Androcles has been captured and is to fight a lion in the arena, it turns out to be the same animal – and the two embrace, rather than fight. The emperor, sensing the delight of the crowd, frees both Androcles and the lion, who are feted through Rome. The concept of overcoming one’s fear of “the other” to assist someone in distress resonates with the work of the Naval Service in the Mediterranean Sea over a number of years.
|Type||Offshore Patrol Vessel|
|Main Engines||2 x Wärtsilä diesel engines and Power Take In, 2 x shafts, 10000kw|
|Range||6000 Nautical Miles @ 15 knots|
|Crew||44 (6 Officers)|
|Armament||1 x 76mm OTO Melara|
2 x 20mm RH 202 Rheinmetall Cannon
2 x 12.7mm Browning HMG’s
4 x 7.62mm GPMG’s