RETIRED sailors will be called upon to help boost crew levels onboard the Royal Navy’s new state-of-the-art carriers, a national report claims.
The Mail on Sunday says the Ministry of Defence will begin a recruitment drive ‘begging’ ex-service personnel who left after doing their time or who were made redundant to make up numbers on HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales.
Normally, only sailors aged up to 59 are considered for duty – but the newspaper says a shortage of personnel has led naval chiefs to appeal to mariners aged 60 and above to apply for key posts.
Admirals, the newspaper says, have been forced to waive rules which say that applicants for top jobs must have served in the Royal Navy in the past five years – intended to ensure their skills are up to date.
Such is the severity of the manpower shortage that applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis, irrespective of how long ago they last went to sea.
It comes as uncertainty remains over the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth to Portsmouth.
The original plan was to welcome the carrier to the city in the spring, but the government says it will now be towards the end of the year by the time she settles in her home port.
An 11-week maiden sea trial programme had originally been earmarked to take place in March, which has been pushed back. Defence ministers were put under pressure in the Commons to disclose more details.