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The view of the Naval Base from outside the wire at the Haulbowline public park is not an encouraging one. The public can see how many Naval vessels are moored up which, because of personnel shortages, cannot go to sea. While the seizure of the m.v. Mathew and its cargo of cocaine, the biggest-ever in Ireland, was a great achievement and praised by Government, the issue of inability to have more Naval vessels on operational patrol of Irish waters has gone unresolved for too long. The Naval Service deserves more priority from Government in an island nation.

The m.v. Mathew remains moored at the Marino Point quayside of Cork Port, opposite the town of Passage West. The bulk carrier is almost 190 metres long, of 50,913 deadweight tonnes bulk carrier, was built in 2001, making it 22-years-old an it was sailing under the Panamanian flag. So, what will happen to it when the criminal investigation searching concludes? What will the State do with a huge bulk carrier? Will it be impounded for sale? The value has been put at up to €8m., though that is not confirmed. Meantime Cork Port Company will be charging mooring fees which could be sizeable for such a large vessel. The berth at the Marino Point facility is in regular use, so what will happen when another ship is destined for the berth? As the photograph shows, the vessel arrived in Irish waters in ballast (no bulk cargo aboard). That is shown by how high she is out of the water, the black-painted hull showing to where she would appear with the Plimsoll line when loaded with cargo. Was there considerably more cocaine cargo aboard before she arrived in Irish waters? It would take a very considerableand unlikely size of load to put such a ship down in weight to her Plimsoll Line. The Plimsoll line, also known as a Load Line or the International Load line, is a reference mark located on a ship’s hull that indicates the maximum depth to which the vessel may be safely immersed when loaded with cargo.


Tom Harding was legendary amongst the Tall Ships fraternity. Bosun on the Asgard, Bosun on the Jeanie Johnston, a man who revelled in being a seafarer, a sailor whose pride in the craft of seamanship was immense. His death this week, Monday October 2, has removed a unique figure from Ireland’s marine sphere. He was Bosun on the Jeanie Johnston,  which was built in Kerry), on its unique voyage to the United States, Canada and Newfoundland, retracing the route of the original ship which carried emigrants from Kerry.

“He was without doubt the finest Tall Ships sailor of our generation, courageous, bold and fearless, working aloft in all weather was second nature to him,” said Captain Michael Coleman of Cobh who was in charge of the Jeanie Johnston when it visited Canadian waters.

Tom Harding was cremated on Wednesday, October 4, at the Island Crematotium, Haulbowline, Cork Harbour. There was a large attendance present.

Tom MacSweeney

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