On board the newest addition to the Irish Navy fleet the LÉ Niamh.

In Cobh in County Cork the naval service is about to embark on a 25,000-mile voyage to Asia. The trip is part of an international public relations exercise in conjunction with Enterprise Ireland, to educate people about Ireland as a viable location for financial and commercial investment. As presenter Michael Ryan points out, the Irish are not that well known in Asia,

They constantly, apparently, confuse us with Iceland.

For this long journey, the navy is deploying the newest vessel in its fleet, LÉ Niamh. Tom MacSweeney reports from Cork harbour where preparations are underway for the journey. 

Promoting Ireland's industrial and business development.

If little is known in Asia about Ireland, then the purpose of this voyage is to help change that.

Lt. Cdr. Gerard O'Flynn says that while policing Irish waters is the primary role of the navy, there are other economic contributions which the fleet can help with. 

LÉ Niamh is in its first year of service and it is the job of 24-year-old Sub Lt. Roberta O'Brien to navigate the vessel on its journey. 

There are no sign posts in the ocean to point the way across vast tracts of sea.

Sub Lt. O'Brien is excited by the challenge. While the equipment on board makes navigating much easier, she still had to prepare over 200 printed maps in the event that technology fails.

President Mary McAleese is on hand to wish the vessel and crew luck as it deaprts. 

For the crew of 43 it's a huge challenge and a big opportunity.

In the engine room of the LÉ Niamh, CP Owen O'Keeffe describes the workings of the ship. 

As the LÉ Niamh crosses the oceans, the first port of call is Eritrea where they will resupply Irish troops on United Nations duty. It is then on to India via the Suez Canal, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shang-hai and Inchon in South Korea.

Sub Lt. O'Brien says she has no problem giving orders to men in the ranks below her in a male dominated environment. 

This episode of 'Nationwide' was broadcast on 11 February 2002. The presenter is Michael Ryan and the reporter is Tom McSweeney.