LÉ James Joyce returns to Ireland after Mediterranean rescue operation

More than 2,600 people were rescued during the operation

LÉ James Joyce returns to Ireland after Mediterranean rescue operation

LE James Joyce. Image: RollingNews.ie

The LÉ James Joyce has returned to Ireland after its 12-week mission rescuing refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean.

The crew rescued more than 2,600 people during the operation.

They also recovered the remains of 21 people who had been attempting to reach mainland Europe.

The 59-person crew were welcomed home by their friends and families at Haulbowline in Cork this morning.

Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe, was also in attendance, having visited the vessel earlier this month.

He told the returning crew members: “I am delighted to be here to meet you all and to join with your families and friends in welcoming you home.

"I am very proud of your work over the past months in assisting with the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean. Many lives have been saved as a result.”

Captain Neil Manning said he was proud of the work carried out by the crew, and explained that the most challenging part was being away from home for so long.

"Everything else falls into place - we're very well trained, we're very confident doing the mission," he said. "[But] it's missing the families.

"We have been away over the summer - everybody on board the ship has [...] volunteered to be on this mission, and they've missed the summer holidays with their kids. Some of them have missed the first day at school. But they've volunteered to do this, and there's great credit due to them."

Irish crews have helped save more than 12,000 lives in the Mediterranean since the Government started sending naval vessels to the area last year.

LÉ Samuel Beckett will replace the James Joyce in the region, having departed earlier this month. It will be deployed until November.