ONE of the world’s most sophisticated non-nuclear submarines docked in Cork last night, as part of a courtesy visit to Leeside.
The Dutch vessel, the HNLMS Walrus docked at Horgan’s Quay at around 6pm and will remain in the city docks until Monday.
The vessel was met at the entrance to Cork Harbour by the Port of Cork’s pilot vessel.
Pilot Tony Mulcahy boarded the vessel to guide it up the harbour. The Evening Echo joined the pilot boat in the delicate operation.
Normally used to piloting large container vessels or tankers, Mr Mulcahy said it was an interesting part of the job to be able to board a submarine.
He praised the efforts of the pilot launch team based in Cobh and the professionalism of the Dutch navy to steer the vessel.
“It’s a team effort really. We pilots know the waters around Cork and the Dutch navy know their vessel so there’s good communication,” he said.
“As well as that, the team involved in the pilot launch have an extremely important role too, so it’s certainly not just myself involved.
“The Dutch navy are very professional, all military-trained, so they know their vessel extremely well, while we provide the local knowledge to avoid any shallow areas,” added Mr Mulcahy, who has been a pilot in Cobh for 10 years, having previously captained his own ship.
“We’d be able to tell if the waters are too shallow to travel further on, which, near the IFI, they sometimes can be.”
The submarine is the lead vessel of four ‘Walrus-class’ submarines currently on active duty.
The Walrus has a crew of 55 and specialises in stealth missions and can remain submerged for very long periods.
It is equipped with four 21-inch torpedo tubes and 20 Honeywell torpedoes.
“It is very high tech, in terms of some of the usual trawlers and vessels we might usually see,” said Mr Mulcahy.
“There’s actually a lot of equipment we wouldn’t even be allowed to see, because it’s a navy submarine.
The HNLMS Walrus entered service in 1992 and has been deployed both for naval exercises and in combat operations around the world.