Major Royal Navy shake-up will see Admirals axed and more fleet roles for sailors

FIVE top admirals could be axed as the Royal Navy looks to carry out a huge shake-up in how it mans the fleet, Britain’s top sailor has said.

Monday, 30th December 2019, 4:19 pm
Updated Monday, 30th December 2019, 5:05 pm

Admiral Tony Radakin has pledged to cut down on the top-heavy Senior Service and drive up more frontline role for sailors.

In an ambitious set of proposals, the First Sea Lord vowed to overhaul how the navy crews its warships and ‘empowers’ its people.

The overhaul could also see changes in staffing at navy HQ on Whale Island, Portsmouth, being introduced in the New Year.

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Admiral Tony Radakin, centre, pictured during the commissioning of HMS Prince of Wales. Photo: Royal Navy

‘We will change the shape of the navy. We will reduce the size of navy command headquarters with fewer admirals and one-stars [equivalent to a commodore] and look again at who really needs to be there,’ he said in a video message to the fleet.

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‘For too long we have bumped along. We’re growing as a brand new navy, and we’re going to change. And it will be for the better.’

Five rear admirals would lose their jobs and the fleet's headquarters in Portsmouth would be cut almost by half, The Sunday Times reported

However, a spokesman from the Royal Navy told The News no concrete figures on how many people would lose their jobs or see a change in role had been finalised.

The naval spokesman added: ‘The naval service is currently undergoing a programme of transformation to strengthen the operational frontline focus, while ensuring we can meet the challenges of the future.’

In order to bring more sailors into frontline roles, Adm Radakin said he would change how ships are crewed. Currently, naval drafts to a ship can last a couple of years.

However, Adm Radakin aims to create a new model of crewing ships, similar to those currently of minehunters of Gulf-based frigate HMS Montrose, which share crews on a rotational basis.

The 54-year-old said: ‘We’re going to try and double-crew another Type 23 [frigate] or Type 45 [destroyer]. Naval bases will come under the fleet commander as will operational sea training.

‘The aim is to strengthen the operational link of both maintenance and training. We need to get better in both areas.’

The navy would ‘focus on strengthening in the north Atlantic’ the First Sea Lord said, following a surge in Russian activity there.

‘Our Royal Navy is growing for the first time in 70 years and all this is a great platform for 2020, because we're going to shift as a navy with some bold changes to really fulfil our potential,’ he added.

‘We need to be a navy with more punch that really keeps us safe when people are placed in harm's way. We can do that but it needs strong leaders.’