HYC ROMEOs visit Ireland's Naval Base at Haulbowline
Author: Pat Murphy Posted on: 22/5/13 Print Version

Photos by Pat Murphy

The ROMEOs with Commodore Mark Mellett NS & Commander Willie Roberts
Gerry O'Neill led 30 of his ROMEOs (Retired Old Men Eating Out) on their last outing of their 2012/2013 programme. The Old Men having travelled by various means assembled at Heuston Station for the train journey to Ireland's second Capital of Cork and onwards to Ireland's Naval Base at Haulbowline. On route the group's unofficial treasurer Gerry Sargent extracted monies from each to cover the day's expenses. With no dining car on the train our leader had advised us to provide our own sangers for the train journey. The tea trolley did not reach our section of the train until after leaving Mallow.

Gerry O'Neill & Sean Flood presenting the HYC burgee to Commodore Mark Mellett NS
On arrival at Cork's Kent Station we were transferred by pre-arranged bus to the Naval Base where we were welcomed by Commander Willie Roberts NS who is also the CO of the Defence Forces Sail Training Yacht Creidne.

Pat Murphy being presented with his 70th birthday cake. Photo Paddy O'Neill

The Cake
In 1938 Great Britain handed back the Treaty Ports and control of Irish waters, to the Irish Free State. Ireland now had control of its own destiny, both at sea and ashore. However, without a Navy, and being an island, the country had no means of protecting its coasts and off shore waters. The government, in May 1939, ordered 2 Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB's) from Great Britain and so began the initial steps in the formation of the service we have today. From 1939 to 1945 the service was known as the Marine Coastwatching Service

The welcome
In September 1946 the Government decided that (what remained) of the Marine Coastwatching Service should become a permanent component of the Defence Forces. Thus was born the modern day Irish Naval Service. The full history of the Naval Service can be read at;

After a very enjoyable lunch attended by a number of Naval Officers including Commodore Mark Mellett NS, Director of Operations Captain Hugh Tully, Chaplin Des Campion and of course Commander Roberts we were transported to the National Maritime College of Ireland at Ringaskiddy. It must also be recorded that during the lunch the author of this article was taken by surprise when he was presented with a cake to celebrate his 70th birthday of two days previous. More surprising to him was the card signed by all the ROMEOs that accompanied the cake. The cake was transported by G.O'N all the way from Baldoyle while G.S. obviously had the card signed while collecting the monies. You just cannot trust anybody, but thanks you all it was a very pleasant surprise.

Helicopter ditching exercise (1)

Helicopter ditching exercise (2)
For the almost two hours tour of the College our very informative guide was Lt. Dan Humphries. We witnessed an exercise in helicopter ditching, visited the fire fighting area. Perhaps the most memorable part of the tour was the sail in a simulator in Sydney Harbour past the famous Opera House and under the just as famous Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Lt. Dan Humphries explaining the fire fighting exercise procedure
The birthday boy was given the task of skippering!!! the vessel through the many varied condition encountered on route including, the very sudden change from ideal conditions to horrendous rough seas, blinding rain squalls, dense fog and a near collision with a large vessel with no navigation lights. However I am glad to report that, apart from two ROMEOs succumbing to 'mal da mer' we reached our destination safely. On returning to the Naval Base we visited the Dockyard where a number of our Naval fleet were berthed.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge ahead.
Photo Paddy O'Neill

Keep a lookout the visibility has deteriorated
With time to spare before returning to Cork for the 6pm train the group were forced to visit a fine hostelry in Carrigaline, not that much force was involved, if indeed any!
Finally our thanks to Sean Flood, a retired Naval Reserve Officer, who initiated the visit.
Of course among the ROMEOs we had another retired Naval Reserve Officer, our Rear Commodore Michael Murphy. A very special thanks to Commander Willie Roberts NS who, together with Gerry O'Neill, co-ordinated the entire day's programme including the transfer bus and the excellent lunch.

A great day out and a fitting end to the Season's outings. We look forward to the 2013/2014 programme.