The Irish naval vessel LE Roisin has left Ireland for search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.
The ship departed Haulbowline in Cork at midday.
Commanded by Lieutenant Commander Ultan Finegan, the 57-strong crew has been completing pre-deployment training and preparing the ship for an extended deployment.
This is the first Naval Service mission to the Mediterranean under Operation Pontus in 2016.
The Defence Forces personnel that crewed LE Eithne, LE Niamh and LE Samuel Beckett last year rescued 8,592 people during deployments to southern Europe.
People smugglers continue almost year-round to launch their flimsy craft from the Libyan shore en route to Italy, Sicily, and Malta.
Many get into difficulties mid-voyage and are rescued by members of an international humanitarian aid mission coordinated by the Italian authorities.
LE Roisin is a first-of-class offshore patrol vessel. It is one of the youngest ships in the Naval Service fleet, and is named after Roisin Dubh, the embodiment of Ireland in the Irish poetic tradition.