The Lifesaving Foundation is pleased to announce that the 2016 Ireland Medal has been awarded to The Irish Naval Service in recognition of its permanent role as on-scene commander in deep sea Search and Rescue (SAR) lifesaving operations and its recent humanitarian role as a rescuer of refugees in the Mediterranean.
In 2015 the Irish Government, in response to the tragic refugee situation, decided to send a naval ship to the Mediterranean as part of the European Union response. In May 2015 LÉ Eithne and her 69 crew entered the Mediterranean and took up station off the coast of North Africa where over 8 weeks they saved 3,376 migrants. The LÉ Niamh replaced LÉ Eithne in July 2015 on a three month mission rescuing more than 4,100 people. In October 2015 LÉ Samuel Beckett replaced LÉ Eithne and by the end of 2015 over 8,000 migrants had been rescued from drowning by Irish Naval Service ships.
LÉ Róisín was deployed to the Mediterranean on 01 May 2016 and rescued a total of 1,264 people. LÉ James Joyce, replaced LÉ Róisín in July with LÉ Samuel Beckett taking over at the end of September. By October 2016 over 10,000 persons had been rescued from drowning in the Mediterranean. Also the ships have provided assistance to a further 2,209 migrants, who were transferred from other vessels onto Irish Naval Service vessels.