A SENIOR naval officer has told of the heartbreak suffered by sailors who were yesterday told they no longer have a future in the Royal Navy.
Hundreds of sailors – some of whom returned from Libya just weeks ago – discovered they were out of a job as the Ministry of Defence slashed 1,020 naval posts.
Around 350 naval personnel are being forced to leave the service against their will.
Commanding officers aboard ships around the world had to break the news to their men and women from 9am.
A naval officer revealed the emotional scenes aboard a Portsmouth-based warship as sailors discovered their fate.
‘It was some pretty gruesome stuff,’ the source told The News.
‘For some of them it came as a complete shock and it has ruined their life.
‘Some of these men have got families in married quarters and have spent many years in the navy. To be told they are out of a job is very distressing and there were some pretty emotional scenes.’
The Ministry of Defence refused to release a break-down of the job losses but The News has learned 17 sailors are leaving the new Type 45 destroyer HMS Dauntless, which represents about one in 10 of that ship’s company.
The aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious lost 29 sailors, and two sailors serving aboard the Portsmouth minehunter HMS Brocklesby were told they were being sacked just weeks after returning home from the warzone in Libya.
More than 120 naval airmen based at RNAS Yeovilton also lost their jobs.
Devastation swept across the naval community.
A couple in Fareham received a call from their distraught grandson who had been told he was being sacked after just five years’ service.
The 25-year-old phoned relatives from sea aboard a Portsmouth-based ship to break the bad news.
‘He was just shattered because he did not expect it at all,’ said his grandfather.
‘He just didn’t see it coming. It is such a shock for him and we are all absolutely stunned.
‘He’s just set up a home with his girlfriend and now he’s going to be out of a job.
‘He joined the navy from college and it’s been his life ever since. He sounded like he was devastated on the phone.’
As sailors were handed their redundancy notices, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, issued a message through the navy’s intranet service.
He said: ‘To those of you who have been selected for redundancy, I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you have contributed to the service and to the nation’s security.
‘However long you have served, your professionalism and dedication to duty are greatly appreciated by me and my colleagues on the navy board, and we are indebted to you for the commitment you have shown.’
Yesterday’s job losses are the just the first round of cuts to axe 5,000 sailors by 2015.
In total, 22,000 military redundancies will be made as a result of last year’s Strategic and Security Review which aims to plug a £38bn gap in the defence budget.
The MoD is also getting rid of 25,000 civilian staff.
The combined job losses will save the MoD £5bn, officials said yesterday.
The navy job losses follow 920 soldiers and 930 RAF personnel who were made redundant earlier this month.
The MoD has pledged that no-one on active war operations, preparing to go to a warzone, or on operational leave from war will be axed.
Initially, it was announced that 1,600 sailors would be made redundant in the first tranche of job losses.
But this figure was eventually revised down to 1,020 because of the war in Libya, a navy spokesman said.
Some 810 sailors applied for voluntary redundancy but only 670 were accepted this time round.
Sailors who put in to leave will serve another six months in the navy.
The 350 people who face compulsory redundancy have been given 12 months’ notice before they depart.