The Irish Naval Service was established in 1946 as a permanent component of the Irish Defense Forces. The Naval Service's military role is more of a coast guard
rather than a conventional Navy. The Naval Service's capabilities include fishery protection, search and rescue, drug interdiction and dive support. The Naval Service
was originally comprised of three
Flower-class corvettes purchased post-WWII. These ships served into the early 1970s when they were replaced by three Ton-class
minesweepers. In 1972 the Naval Service commissioned the offshore patrol ship
LÉ Deirdre (Long Éireannach means Irish Ship in Gaelic and shortened to LÉ),
which was the first naval vessel purpose-built in Ireland to patrol its waters.

The three ships of the
Emer class of offshore patrol vessels (OPV) soon followed. The lead ship, LÉ Emer (P21), was ordered in 1975. Lessons learned from
Deirdre showed a need for more engine power, better crew accommodations and improved silencing. Essentially Emer was an improved version of Deirdre. Emer’s
sister ships were
LÉ Aoife (P22) and LÉ Aisling (P23) and in turn were improved versions of Emer. All three ships were built at the Verolme Dockyard in Cork.
Their main weapon was a Bofors 40mm cannon capable of firing 240 2.5 kg shells a minute at a range of 1 km. The secondary weapons included two Rheinmetall
20mm cannons capable of firing 1,000 shells per minute at the range of 2 km. All three ships were modernized throughout their service lives to take advantage of new
technologies and improve crew comfort, including adding air conditioning.
In 1986 Aoife came to the aide of Richard Branson’s Virgin Challenger II while it was attempting to win the Blue Riband. After refueling at an oil rig on the Grand
Banks off of Newfoundland, four tons of water entered
Virgin Challenger II’s fuel tanks. After requesting assistance, Aoife was the nearest vessel and responded. A
RAF Nimrod air dropped a canister of fuel filters to Branson’s boat and
Aoife’s crew refueled Challenger, which proceeded to finish the voyage and break the
previous record by two hours and nine minutes.
Aoife participated in two rescue operations. In 2004 she assisted in the rescue of the Royal Canadian Navy submarine
Chicoutimi off the north-western coast of Ireland and in 2007 assisted in rescuing over 100 children taking part in a sailing regatta.

In 1984
Aisling was involved an international incident with a 330-ton Spanish fishing trawler called Sonia. Aisling came across Sonia illegally fishing in Irish waters
and the trawler quickly retrieved its gear before
Aisling could send a boarding party. It her hasty attempt to escape, Sonia missed hitting Aisling amidships by 10 feet
only because the patrol vessel's engines had been put full astern. The trawler’s hull would have sliced
Aisling's thin plating. The Irish ship pursued the trawler
reportedly firing 600 warning shots.
Sonia turned towards Aisling several times causing the patrol vessel to take evasive action. After a five-hour chase, Aisling broke
off the pursuit when the trawler reached British waters. After
Aisling returned to its base, it was learned that Sonia sank due to sea conditions and both a German
freighter and a RAF Sea King helicopter rescued the 13 crewmen. The Spanish government denied that
Sonia attempted to ram Aisling and accused the Irish Naval
Service of causing their ship to sink by riddling it with gunfire. The Irish Government denied this accusation.
As if that wasn’t enough excitement, in September of 1984, Aisling was involved in the arrest of the Marita Ann off the southwest coast of Ireland, which was
carrying a cargo of arms and ammunition consigned to the IRA. The contraband cargo was brought across the Atlantic from the United States on a fishing trawler
named
Valhalla. The cargo was then transferred to the Marita Ann in international waters. Intelligence services were aware of the plot and both vessels were being
monitored. The Irish Naval Service laid a trap for
Marita Ann with Deirdre, Aisling and Emer. The latter vessel made a full-speed intercept of Marita Ann when
she crossed into Irish waters and called on her to stop. The warnings were ignored and
Emer illuminated the ship with her searchlights. Marita Ann altered course
but could not outrun the patrol ships and
Aisling moved into a position to prevent a breakout. When four rounds of tracer were shot across her bow, Marita Ann
surrendered two miles inside the limit. The combined Naval Service and Garda boarding party met no resistance from the five men onboard (one was a U.S. citizen)
and a large quantity of ammunition and arms was found and confiscated.

Emer was decommissioned in 2013 and was sold at auction to a Nigerian businessman for conversion to a yacht. However, when the new owner failed to obtain the
required military approval to bring the ship into Nigerian waters, it was impounded by the Nigerian Navy. In 2015,
Emer was commissioned into the Nigerian Navy
as a training ship and renamed
NNS Prosperity.
Aoife was decommissioned in 2015 and donated to the Armed Forces of Malta. It was commissioned as the patrol boat P62 in June 2015 and is currently Malta's
largest naval vessel.
Aisling was decommissioned in 2016, Plans to preserve the ship as a museum in Galway did not come to fruition and she was subsequently sold
at auction to brokers looking to resell it.

Specifications
Displacement: 1019.5 tonnes standard
Length: 214 ft (65.2 m) overall
Beam: 34 ft (10.5 m)
Draught: 14 ft (4.4 m)
Speed: 17 knots maximum
Complement: 46 (5 officers and 41 ratings)
Armament: 1 × Bofors 40 mm, 2 × Rheinmetall Rh202 20 mm cannons & 7.62 mm L7 GPMGs

The
Emer class OPV kit is RB Productions third ship model release and the second of a class of ships serving with the Irish Naval Service. This is a multimedia kit
comprising of resin, photo-etch and turned brass parts and decals. This kit will allow you to build any of the three Irish ships and also the one currently in service
with Malta.

The main part is the one-piece full hull which has no structures or any small details cast into it. The hull is partially hollow with a void in the center. The large void is
essentially an opening to fit the main superstructure parts. There a few holes and several engraved outlines in the deck to help with the location of the smaller resin
and brass parts. The hull sides do have portholes, openings for bow thrusters, locater holes for the rudder and stabilizers and recesses for the photo-etch bilge keels
and a pair of grills. The casting is very good with a little bit of sanding along the pronounced keel to remove bits of resin. Though this is a full hull kit, a template is
provided in the assembly instructions to cut an opening to fit the hull into to make a waterline model.
The next largest part is the one-piece main superstructure. There are some details cast into this part, like the bridge windows and portholes, but most are done with
resin and photo-etch parts. There are small locater holes, recesses and engraved outlines to aid in the placement of the smaller parts. There are some tiny holes along
the bulwarks which are there to accommodate the photo-etch handrails. There are two different versions of the aft section of the superstructure, one slightly shorter
than the other. The former is for
Emer while the latter extended part is for the two sisters. Like the main superstructure part, there are some portholes cast into it,
but photo-etch will provide the bulk of the detailing. The tiny holes are also present here for the photo-etch handrails. The aft overhang of the smaller version broke
off during shipping but it is a clean break and is easily reattached. The casting again is generally good but cleanup is needed to remove some casting plugs on the
bottom of the parts at the aft end.

The smaller resin parts come on a series of casting runners which have parts numbers embossed into them. The parts include the mounts for the 40mm Bofors and
Rh202 cannons, funnel, main and aft masts, rudder, stabilizer fins, Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs), radar domes, cranes, various equipment lockers, vents in various
styles, mooring bitts and chocks, life raft canisters, RIB gas tanks and other small bits. The casting of these parts is also well done and clean but the chocks will
need the openings cleaned out to remove some resin film.

The kit comes with several turned brass parts produced by Master Models, so you can be assured that the quality will be excellent. The turned brass parts include
the 40mm Bofors gun barrel, the Rh202 cannon barrels, anchor capstans, aft capstan and propeller hub parts. It is rather difficult to beat the detail and scale of
turned brass parts, so these are a major plus with the kit.
The photo-etch material is stainless steel, which is stronger than brass but still relatively easy to work with. The one sheet included is very extensive with structural
and detail parts and a good degree of relief-etching. Part numbers are etched into the fret next to each part, including the railings. As indicated on the fret, some of
the railings are specific to a particular ship in the class, so pay attention. In addition to the railings, the photo-etch includes the upper deck and bridge roof deck,
bulwarks for the bridge roof deck, breakwater and support bracing, bilge keels, anchor handling equipment, parts for the mast, watertight doors in several styles,
hatches, inclined and vertical ladders, various platforms, details for the 40mm gun, details for the Rh202 cannons, details for the RIBs and their storage racks, RIB
fuel can storage racks and the ship’s main and thruster propellers. Other parts include the grab handles that run along the superstructure, interior funnel cap, the
base for the cranes, stowed gangplanks, name plates for the ship, larger name plates for displaying the model and other details. There is really no detail overlooked –
the Rh202 cannons even have photo-etch ammo belts!

The decal sheet has the markings for all three ships in the class, including the hull pennant numbers, draft markings, bow thruster warning symbols, funnel and
bridge face logos, deck markings, “Navy” lettering for the RIBs, and the Irish national flag and naval pennant. The sheet also includes markings for the Maltese P62,
including flag and naval pennant. The decals appear very well done with good color registration.

The kit instructions are extremely well done and probably among the best that I have seen. Each ship was slightly different, with some parts not used and some
alterations required. So instead of having one assembly guide covering all the differences with a probability of causing some confusion and errors, RB Productions
made the effort of producing three different guides. The actual instructions are not included in the kit, but rather a card is packed with the kit with the URL to
download the instructions for the specific ship you wish to build from a Drop Box site. If you purchase the kit directly from RB Productions through their web
store, a link to download the instructions will be provided. The instructions for Aoife covers the Maltese P62. Each guide follows a similar format. The first page
has general notes about the kit and two CAD views of the model at the bottom. Page 2 has a breakdown of the resin and turned brass parts with associated part
numbers that are referenced in the assembly diagrams and a small image of the photo-etch and decal sheet. Parts that are not to be used for your choice of subject
are identified on page 2. Spanning the next several pages are a series of digital color assembly diagrams which show the location of parts and construction of sub-
assemblies from various perspectives to make matters as clear as possible. Other model kit producers should take note of the care given to make the assembly as
clear as possible. One page has a diagram showing the locations of the various railings and template to use make a cut out to display the hull in a waterline setting.
This is a very useful option, especially for me, and will eliminate the need to cut into such a dense resin hull. Painting and decal placement instructions are included
with color call outs for BS and RAL color references along with suggested matches to Revell, Testors and Tamiya paints. The generic color references, like black,
red and white, do not have call-outs but they really don’t require any. The final pages have color photos of the actual ship covered in the instruction for reference
purposes.
The Emer class kit is another impressive effort from RB Productions. There is a lot of detail crammed into a relatively small model and the overall quality is very
good. The planning and care taken in accounting for the differences among the ships in the class is refreshing, especially when some model producers try to get away
with packaging the same kit with different decals. Due to the complexity of the photo-etch parts, I would recommend this kit to someone with extensive experience
working with multi-media kits. My thanks to RB Productions (www.radubstore.com) for the review sample.
Felix Bustelo
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