Naming and Commissioning Ceremony of the new Naval Service vessel L.É. George Bernard Shaw


Minister with Responsibility for Defence Mr. Paul Kehoe T.D, in the presence of An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, T.D., today hosted the naming and commissioning ceremonies of the new Naval Service vessel L.É. George Bernard Shaw on the Frank Cassin Wharf, Waterford.

The naming ceremony was carried out by Miss Emily Byrne with assistance from her mother Ann-Marie. Emily a native of County Waterford at only 5 months of age was placed on an Immediate List for a liver transplant. Petty Officer Naval Diver John Fenton who is a family friend volunteered to become a living donor giving 20% of his liver to Emily.  At the ceremony, Mr. Varadkar T.D., and Mr. Kehoe T.D., paid tribute to the courageous generosity of Petty Officer Fenton and they wished Emily continued good health on her road to recovery. 

Speaking about the event An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:

“The LÉ George Bernard Shaw joins a modern naval fleet that serves our country with distinction. Our Naval ships assert the sovereignty and integrity of our territorial waters; they protect both the waters of our country and the European Union. 

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the personnel of the Naval Service for their wide ranging work, including their humanitarian efforts in the Mediterranean Sea, which have saved thousands of lives in recent years.  

“Today’s ceremony has been made all the more special by the presence of Emily Byrne and her parents. Emily is on the road to recovery after Petty Officer John Fenton, a senior Naval Diver, donated a part of his liver to save Emily’s life. It’s an act that epitomises the values of our Naval Service; courage, determination and putting other people first. It reminds us of everything that is good about the members of our Naval Service as well and our wider Defence Forces. I would like to wish Emily, her family and all who will serve on the LÉ George Bernard Shaw the very best for the future.”

Minister Kehoe said When on patrol Naval Service vessels are multi-tasked in the sense that they also undertake general surveillance, security and other duties.  By its nature, often that security role goes unrecognised or unacknowledged, but it is vital to Ireland's national priorities, interests and international obligations.”

In concluding Minister Kehoe saidBe in no doubt, we in the Government are very proud of the important work the Defence Forces do, whether on land, in the air or on the waters around Ireland or internationally.”
Both the Taoiseach and Minister Kehoe extended their very best wishes and that of the Government to the Captain and crew of LÉ George Bernard Shaw.




Note for the Editors:


  • LÉ Roisin and LÉ Niamh were the first two ships built in the Appledore facility over sixteen years ago – both ships remain key elements of the Irish Naval Service fleet.
  • The Commissioning of LÉ George Bernard Shaw, brings to an end the current phase of the Naval Service ship replacement programme which has seen the supply of four new Naval Service vessels since 2014.
  • Three ships, LÉ Samuel Beckett (named and commissioned May 2014), LÉ James Joyce (named and commissioned September 2015) and LÉ William Butler Yeats (named and commissioned in October 2016) have been delivered and are in full operational service. The total value of the contracts for the four vessels was some €270m inclusive of VAT.
  • There is an ongoing requirement to maintain and upgrade vessels having regard to emerging operational requirements and changes in technology. LÉ Róisín is currently undergoing a mid-life extension programme to extend her life and remove obsolescence.  LÉ Niamh’s extension programme is due to commence in 2020.   Over the course of their extension programmes, LÉ Róisín and LÉ Niamh will be out of operation for a period of some twelve months each.
  • The commissioning today of the LÉ George Bernard Shaw will result in nine ships commissioned by Government.  The addition of the LÉ George Bernard Shaw ensures that we continue to have eight sea-going ships operational for the medium term. 
  • Future Naval Service capabilities are planned as part of the White Paper on Defence project planning process which will determine the Defence Organisation’s maritime capabilities. The White Paper on Defence provides for the replacement of the current flagship, LÉ Eithne, by a multi-role vessel (MRV). LÉ Eithne was built in 1984. Planning has commenced on this project and it is intended to hold a public tender competition in due course to cover the supply of the MRV.
  • The 2019 Estimates provides for capital spending of €106m in respect of defence equipment and upgrading of barracks – an increase of €29m on 2018.


Ship Sponsor

  • The ship’s sponsor is Emily Byrne, a native of County Waterford.
  • Emily, after a period of serious illness, was flown to Kings College Hospital in the UK by the Irish Air Corps in late 2017 when she was just 5 months old. There she was placed on the Immediate List for a liver transplant.
  • Petty Officer Diver John Fenton, a family friend of the Byrnes, volunteered to become a live liver donor for Emily.
  • John donated 20% of his liver to Emily. To do this John had to put his life on hold for over a year.


National Gallery of Ireland

Shaw has no living relatives, however, he bequeathed one third of the posthumous royalties from his estate to the Gallery to fund acquisitions for the collection and a room in the Dargan Wing, the Shaw Room is named after him.  Mr. Seán Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery spoke at the event on the legacy and works of George Bernard Shaw.