Why didn't Ireland develop a larger Navy during WW2?

Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
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Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
Here is a list of merchant ships that Irish Shipping Ltd. had in operation during the war (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Shipping#List_of_ships_operated_during_World_War_Two).

Of the vessels serving Ireland during the war, I know of at least 9 that were lost to German attacks (Leukos, City of Limerick, Luimneach, Kerry Head, Isolda, Clonlara, Irish Oak, Irish Pine, and Kyleclare). And this isn't counting several other unsuccessful attempts (such as the attacks on City of Waterford).
How were they lost?
From convoys?
Sailing alone?
Mines?

So assuming they'd had the resources to invest in Naval escorts,
As mentioned, they didn't - nor the shipyards to build them nor the radar/sonar equipment needed for an effective escort.

it would definitely have been worth it to do so. Irish trade was severely hampered during the war and one of the reasons for Irish Shipping Ltd. being set up in the first place is because Ireland realised they couldn't rely on people like Britain for all their shipping needs as they had in the past, so they tried to become more independent in the merchant marine sector.
As n=mentioned, they only had 56 ships and got another 15 or so during the war.
Where would these ships be carrying cargo?
A typical British North Atlantic convoy had 30 to 60 ships, + 6 to 10 escorts.

So would Ireland put it's entire cargo fleet together to convoy to America?
And so they'd need a dozen or so escorts? (allowing for some to rotated out for leave/repairs/maintenance)
 
Dec 2014
1,082
Europe
How were they lost?
From convoys?
Sailing alone?
Mines?
All the ones I mentioned were either from sub or air attacks. There were others not mentioned that were lost to mines. Some were lost alone, others near Allied convoys.

As mentioned, they didn't - nor the shipyards to build them nor the radar/sonar equipment needed for an effective escort.
Yep, I can see that now after the discussions here.

Where would these ships be carrying cargo?
Often to the US or Canada. A couple of the ones I mentioned were coasters, so not really practical to use escorts there. Irish Shipping Ltd. was I think the main organisation at the time running trans-Atlantic voyages. A fair number of their vessels were lost or damaged during the war. From what I know they often sailed alone.
 
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Lord Fairfax

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,446
Changing trains at Terrapin Station...
All the ones I mentioned were either from sub or air attacks. There were others not mentioned that were lost to mines. Some were lost alone, others near Allied convoys.

Often to the US or Canada. A couple of the ones I mentioned were coasters, so not really practical to use escorts there. Irish Shipping Ltd. was I think the main organisation at the time running trans-Atlantic voyages. A fair number of their vessels were lost or damaged during the war. From what I know they often sailed alone.
From what I can see they lost about 15 ships during the war?

They probably followed the best policy.
The Germans were pretty observant of the rules of war during the early years, which meant that they could challenge lone Irish ships at sea, but couldn't seize or sink them if it was an Irish flagged ship, with cargo destined for Ireland.
Once Germany began unrestricted submarine warfare and neutral Irish ships were sunk, then they'd be better off travelling across the Atlantic in British convoys.

Their best course of action was probably to forget about the idea of escorts, and instead to commission some ASW trawlers to protect Irish harbours & coastal waters. They could probably negotiate with the British for some modern equipment or to convert a few Irish ships for this purpose, as it would also suit the British to have more ASW assets around Ireland.

However, the Irish would have to be careful to patrol only Irish waters, and not to attack U-boats beyond their territorial limit
 
Dec 2014
1,082
Europe
That seems like a decent idea, especially given what I've now learned about Ireland's resources at the time.

When did Germany begin unrestricted submarine warfare? The earliest of the Irish ships lost that I mentioned was on 9 March 1940 (the Leukos). An earlier ship, the tanker Inverliffey, was torpedoed on 11 September 1939 while flying the Irish flag (although it was argued by the Germans that because she was carrying fuel to England she was more or less fair game.)
 
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