Royal Navy sailors to learn their fate over redundancies

Defence secretary Liam Fox
Defence secretary Liam Fox

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MORE than 1,000 Royal Navy personnel are being made redundant today.

Senior officers began informing sailors they were out of a job at 9am.

Of 1,020 job losses, 350 will be compulsory. Some 810 sailors applied for voluntary redundancy and 670 were accepted, the MoD said.

Some of those who will receive their redundancy notice will have recently served in the seas off Libya.

But the government insists those currently on operations, preparing for operations, or on operational leave will not be affected.

Today is the first of three tranches of naval job cuts to slash the number of sailors by 5,000 to 30,000 by 2015. It is part of 22,000 armed forces job losses designed to help save £5bn from the Ministry of Defence’s budget. The MoD is also having to shed 25,000 civilian staff over the next four years.

Where possible, the 1,020 sailors from across a range of ranks up to the rank of captain will have been told their fate in face-to-face meetings this morning.

Commodore Michael Mansergh, head of Royal Navy manning, said: ‘Today is clearly a difficult day. No-one wants to make anybody redundant.

‘Today is very much focused on how we can support people and their families. This is a difficult time where over a 1,000 are being told they are being made redundant.’

The navy job losses come after 920 soldiers and 930 RAF personnel were told they were being made redundant earlier this month in the first tranche of cuts announced in last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, today issued a statement to sailors via the MoD’s internal email system, which has been leaked to The News.

In the memo, the head of the navy 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.

‘Do not underestimate what you have achieved in the service, or the value that others will place on your experience gained in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. 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.’

The Admiral said the navy faces up to three further tranches of redundancy by April 2015.

The next round of redundancies is expected to be announced in March next year.

Sir Mark said: ‘I fully understand what an unsettling time this is for many of you and your families and I have directed that you are to be kept fully informed of any further developments as the armed forces redundancy programme progresses.’

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said the MoD had to share the blame for the cuts ‘having helped create the problem’.

Speaking to a national newspaper, Dr Fox said: ‘I think the MoD consistently dug a hole for itself that it eventually found that it could not climb out of.’

Expressing his sympathy for members of the armed forces losing their jobs, the defence secretary said: ‘It is the toughest thing, and you know the impact that it will have on them and their families. That has always made me feel very angry because these decisions have been being forced upon us by previous management.

‘Morale for our own people has taken a knock, and they have had to make huge adjustments to get us back on an even keel. I know it’s very hard for them, but I think they know that it had to be done.’

Sailors who successfully volunteered for redundancy will serve six months’ notice before leaving the navy. Those who find out today that they are being sacked will serve 12 months’ notice.

The Ministry of Defence was not breaking down which areas the job losses are coming from today. Around 100 officers selected will be from the engineering, medical, warfare and logistics branches up to the rank of captain. Job losses within junior and senior rates would be from a ‘variety of branches’ the MoD said.

Defence officials said Royal Marines were exempt from this round of job cuts.

By 2015, one in six sailors will have lost their job.

Former First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord West, criticised the cuts.

He said: ‘To suddenly be told you’re not wanted, having trained you up, got you all ready to be willing to sacrifice your life for you nation - it’s quite a blow.

‘It does have a huge impact.’