The LÉ Eithne was given a blue light send-off at the Port of Cork yesterday as Operation Fortitude comes to an end.
The flagship vessel of the Irish Naval Service was the last of the six naval vessels deployed under the measures taken to control the coronavirus pandemic to return to base at Hawbauline.
Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin and Superintendent Colm O’Sullivan of An Garda Síochána turned out to see off the vessel, along with piper Pat McCarthy of the Ambulance Service, Gerry O’Dwyer, chief executive of the South West Hospital Group and members of the emergency services.
“On behalf of the South/South West Hospital Group I would like to thank the Defence Forces for their invaluable help to the HSE across Cork and Kerry during the Covid-19 pandemic," Geraldine McCarthy, Chairperson, South/South West Hospital Group said. "The support provided to hospitals and medical outlets were vital in helping to curtail the spread of Covid-19 in the region.”
Gerry O’Dwyer, Group CEO, South/South West Hospital Group said: “As a result of the support provided by the Defence Forces, over three hundred people were transported to testing centres.
"Defence Force members were also fully prepared to assist the HSE with essential maintenance and support services, in the event of significant staff shortages. During the pandemic, skilled specialist personnel were on-hand to construct and progress specialised structures to create additional space to enable social distancing.
"This was a critical service provided to Mercy University Hospital, which as a city centre location has limited space. It is important that the SSWHG acknowledges the great work carried out by the Defence Forces and we are delighted to have an opportunity to thank them and bid farewell to LÉ Eithne from Kennedy Quay.”