LÉ Niamh returns to Ireland after Mediterranean mission

LÉ Niamh, the first Irish Naval Service ship deployed as part of the EU Naval mission operation Sophia, has returned from the Mediterranean Sea.

The ship, with a total of 57 members of the Defence Forces onboard, arrived at Haulbowline Naval Base, Cork in the morning hours of December 20, 2017.

The ship departed the naval base on October 6 this year.

Operation Sophia’s core mandate is to identify, capture and dispose of vessels and enabling assets used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers, in order to contribute to wider EU efforts to disrupt the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Southern Central Mediterranean and prevent the further loss of life at sea.

Since October 7, 2015, as agreed by the EU Ambassadors within the Security Committee on September 28, the operation moved to phase 2 International Waters, which entails boarding, search, seizure and diversion on the high seas of vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking.

On July 25, 2017, the Council extended operation Sophia’s mandate until December 31, 2018.