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Irish Navy Female Makes History

Irish naval history was made today when Donegal woman Sub-Lieutenant Tahlia Britton became the Irish Navy’s first female diver.

She and two others, Able Mechanic Rob Mulqueen from Limerick and Able Seaman Emmet O’Hanlon from Cork, received their diving log books in a ceremony at the naval base in Haulbowline this afternoon.

Flag Officer Commander Michael Malone congratulated all three, who had to undergo a gruelling 11-week training course.

The course has a 70% drop-out rate and today’s new divers were the only ones of the original 10 to finish this course.

Established in the 1960s, the diving service is an elite unit of the naval service with up to 30 divers.  

The unit is responsible for search and recovery, underwater engineering and explosive ordnance disposal.

The three Navy members, unexpectedly but much to their delight, received their prized diving badges on Bere Island last evening following a traditional three kilometre run to a look-out point on the west Cork island.

Able Mechanic Rob Mulqueen (L), Sub-Lieutenant Tahlia Britton and Able Seaman Emmet O’Hanlon after the ceremony in Haulbowline

Tahlia, 29, said while she is proud to be the Navy’s first female diver, she is prouder still of finishing the course alongside her two colleagues.

Always a keen watersports person, Tahlia knew she wanted to join the military but at her parents’ urging completed a degree at NUIG in Podiatry before joining the Navy in 2014.

She is the current Gunnery Officer on LÉ James Joyce.

Following a further five weeks of specialised underwater training, she will return – like the others – to her ship on standby to respond when needed.