Royal Navy's elite Special Boat Service troops are living in 'appalling' and 'below-standard' conditions

SPECIAL forces heroes from the Royal Navy are living in ‘below-standard’ accommodation in a move an MP has branded ‘appalling’.

By Tom Cotterill
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 11:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 11:22 pm

The state of accommodation for the elite operators of the Special Boat Service was raised during a hearing of the Commons’ powerful defence committee.

The unit, the sister service of the feared SAS, are based in Poole, Dorset, and are among some of the world’s most well-trained forces, recruiting principally from the Royal Marines, pictured.

But speaking during the latest defence committee meeting in parliament, Conservative MP Richard Drax warned the fearsome commandos were trapped in below-par housing.

Pictured are ranks from 42 Commando Royal Marine’s Fleet Contingency Troop, conducting high vertical assault drills onto RFA Mounts Bay in Portland Harbour. As maritime warfare specialists, the SBS recruits principally from the Royal Marines.

‘I visited the Special Boat Service in Poole and some of their accommodation, I was told, is way below standard, bearing in mind these are special forces – I mean they all deserve good accommodation – but it’s appalling that even our own special forces don’t get good accommodation,’ he lamented.

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Mr Drax was raising the issue with representatives from the heads of the Naval Families Federation, RAF Families Federation and Army Families Federation.

Sarah Clewes, interim chief executive officer of the Portsmouth-based Naval Families Federation – which supports thousands of naval families – vowed to look into the problem.

Asked if she had been made aware of the shoddy state of SBS accommodation, she told the committee: ‘I’m not aware but issues with substandard accommodation, across the piste, have been brought to my attention but not specifically Poole, I’m sorry.’

The news comes just weeks after it was revealed that SBS troops were struggling to train because they didn’t have a big enough swimming pool.

Mr Drax said the operators need a large pool to practise their stealth techniques using mini-submarines, The Sun reported.

The existing facility in Poole was ‘not fit for purpose’ and the frogmen rarely used it, the MP added.

‘They need a pool of some size and depth where they can train in a realistic environment,’ he said.

‘If we can’t provide our own special forces with the most basic facilities, then I can’t think of a higher priority, other than accommodation.’

SBS troops routinely train in Poole Harbour and the Channel, around Mr Drax’s constituency.

They elite unit has deployed in conflicts around the globe – although their role and missions are a closely-guarded secret.

However, in October 2020, the fighting force showed its prowess to the public when 16 operators stormed an oil tanker in the Solent, which was suspected to have been hijacked.

The special forces team needed just seven minutes to secure the Nave Andromeda during the daring operation, which was carried out in front of the world’s media.

The well-drilled operators boarded the tanker by rope from Merlin and Wildcat helicopters while others scaled the side of the vessel from an inflatable rib.

Seven men at the time were detained and questioned by detectives from Hampshire police. But they were later released without charge.

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