Sailors and Scientists Join Forces to Promote Understanding of the Oceans


At the signing of the Service Level Agreement between the Marine Institute and the Irish Naval Service in Cork. (Left to Right) Captain Dennis Rowan of the RV Celtic Explorer, Commodore Frank Lynch (Irish Naval Service), Mick Giloolly (Director of Ocean Science Services, Marine Institute), John Breslin (RV Operations, Marine Institute), Commandant Tom Touhy (Irish Naval Service) and Barry Kavanagh (P&O Maritime Services).

A new Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the Marine Institute and the Naval Service was signed today (Wednesday 20th May) to maximise the responsiveness and effectiveness of the two parties, through close cooperation and coordination on an ongoing basis.

The agreement develops inter-agency cooperation and the up-skilling of Marine Institute and Irish Naval Service personnel for collaborative operations involving the Marine Institute’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), the reporting by the Navy to the Marine Institute of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and fishing trends, as well as the provision of diver support, oceanic and plankton observations and the provision of berthage facilities at Haulbowline for use by the Marine Institute’s research vessels.

The Marine Institute and the Irish Naval Service will work closely with the Irish Coastguard Service (IRCG) towards the development of national emergency response procedures utilising the available infrastructure in both organisations i.e. the vessels and the national deepwater ROV.  Additional educational/training opportunities for mutual benefit particularly in areas such as ROV operations, the use of hydrographic and geophysical surveying for search and recovery operations, Naval cadet and Officer training, and developments in ocean science will be explored and implemented under this agreement.   

The Agreement follows the Government’s White Paper on Defence (February 2000), which recognises the Naval Service as the State’s primary sea going agency and provides for the putting in place of such agreements between the Department of Defence and its clients, and the policy of the Marine Institute to have SLAs in place with its service providers.  

“The sea forms the core businesses of both our organisations,” said Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute. “We both have a wealth of experience and expertise in the operation of ships at sea, as well as a profound interest in the development of Ireland as a maritime nation. It therefore makes a great deal of sense for us to pool those resources whenever possible so as to deliver the most effective and cost-efficient service to the taxpayer as possible.”  

Both services have already collaborated in the past on a number of operations, notably during the search for the missing trawler Carrickatine off Donegal, when the sophisticated seabed mapping capabilities and the “Hyball” ROV of the Marine Institute were used by the Naval Service in an attempt to locate the wreck.  

Speaking on behalf of the Naval Service Commodore Frank Lynch Flag Officer Commanding Naval Service said “The signing of this SLA with the Marine Institute will further enhance the capability of the Navy to deliver services to the State and also represents a value for money solution in the delivery of these capabilities.”  

The day-to-day operation of the Agreement will be managed on a continuous basis and reviewed annually at a meeting of representatives from the Department of Defence, the Naval Service and the Marine Institute. These meetings will also explore additional services as required.