A FORMER naval press officer from Dunmanway has assumed command of the LÉ James Joyce.
The 37-year-old newly appointed captain is Donnchadh Cahalane from Bantry Road, who joined the navy in 2002 at the age of 18.
‘I was always interested in the military,’ he said. ‘I joined the FCA as a teenager and used to go to summer and winter camps on Bere Island.
‘It was during one of those sessions that the navy came into Bantry Bay and I was given a tour of the LÉ Deirdre and that was the start of that.’
According to Donnchadh, the ultimate goal of anyone joining the navy is to be the captain of a ship and he said, ‘assuming command is the highlight of my career, no matter what else happens.’
The LÉ James Joyce is one of four new 90m off-shore patrol vessels and are the largest ships the naval service has ever operated.
Donnchadh has put in 19 years of service, which included a two-year officer cadetship and a three-year degree in nautical science at the National Maritime College.
Throughout his career, he held different roles, such as a gunnery officer, a navigation officer, and an executive officer on various ships in the fleet.
During his time at the naval base, Donnchadh was the head of the gunnery training school, as well as a staff officer in naval operations, and a press officer in naval headquarters.
In 2015, Donnchadh deployed to the Mediterranean on board the LÉ Samuel Beckett as part of the naval service’s humanitarian rescue mission off the coast of Libya.
His parents, Con and Margaret Cahalane, are desperately proud of their son, who is one of five boys.
Donnchadh’s wife, Valerie, and their children Darragh and Olan, are also thrilled for him.
‘I now start a two-year deployment at sea,’ Donnchadh said.
‘It will be tough being away from my family, but I am looking forward to dealing with the adventure and challenge of being at sea.’