JUST ten 16-year-olds signed up for the Royal Navy last year, Ministry of Defence figures have revealed.
The number of school-leavers joining the senior service has fallen sharply since 585 joined in 2003.
It’s been suggested that the drop in recruitment of youngsters is a sign of disillusionment with the forces at a time of severe cut-backs.
The government’s 2010 defence review axed 10 ships and 5,000 sailors.
But the MoD yesterday denied the cuts have had a direct impact on recruitment.
A spokesman said: ‘It would be completely misleading to make assumptions about the popularity of our armed forces based on the recruitment of 16-year-olds.
‘As we reconfigure our armed forces to become a more balanced, capable and adaptable military power, slowing recruitment is just one of the ways to reach our required manning numbers.
‘There is also a wider government push for young people to stay in education until they are 18 which has raised the average age at which people join the services.’