HUNDREDS of sailors face compulsory redundancy after far fewer than expected volunteered to be laid off in the first round of job cuts, The News can reveal.
The Ministry of Defence expected 800 of the 1,600 sailors due to lose their job in September would be people taking voluntary redundancy.
But a senior naval source has told The News as few as 400 have applied for redundancy – meaning hundreds more sailors who are happy in their current role will be forced out to meet deadlines for cutting MoD costs.
The Second Sea Lord, Vice-Admiral Charles Montgomery, confirmed the redundancy scheme has had a slow take-up from sailors.
He said: ‘We’ve had some volunteers but not as many as we thought we would.
‘Sadly, this means we’ll have to make more compulsory redundancies in September.
‘I think what it says is, notwithstanding the very difficult period we’ve gone through, sailors feel well led, valued and committed to the Royal Navy.’
The MoD wanted hundreds of sailors to apply to leave to make the redundancy process easier.
But in stark contrast to the army – which has had more than 900 soldiers apply for redundancy despite wanting just 500 volunteers – the navy is drastically under-subscribed.
The navy said it had nothing to do with the packages on offer which it described as attractive.
A source said: ‘This is a headache for the MoD. They thought they would have more volunteers than they have so they could hand-pick who to let go. But now they will have to tell people who don’t want to leave that they are out of a job.’
The navy, which employs 35,000 people, has been told to cut 5,000 jobs by 2015.
This will be done in three tranches. A total of 1,600 jobs will go in the first wave this September, made up of 1,458 junior and senior ratings from various naval branches and 121 officers up to the rank of captain from warfare, engineering, medical and logistics.
Volunteers will serve six months’ notice but compulsory leavers will serve 12 months before leaving.
But the MoD said not everyone who has applied for redundancy will automatically be allowed to leave as the navy wants to hold on to its best people.
While refusing to confirm how many sailors have asked to leave, a spokesman said: ‘The navy’s overriding principle for all ranks and specialisations will be to select a mixture of personnel for redundancy that preserves the right balance of experience, skill and potential to enable the navy to maintain its operational commitments and to continue its outstanding service in the future.’