THE FIRM responsible for safely guiding the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers in and out of Portsmouth has pledged its allegiance to the armed forces until 2023.
Serco will double the number of volunteer reservists in its ranks to 150 over the next five years, also vowing to take on more veterans and boost cadet training among school-age children.
The commitment was made on Friday as staff from the firm were joined by the Second Sea Lord of the Royal Navy, vice admiral Tony Radakin, as they united to sign the Armed Forces Covenant at Portsmouth Naval Base.
The Second Sea Lord – who is also the navy’s deputy chief of staff – met Serco CEO Rupert Soames on board SD Tempest.
As Serco’s newest tug boat, described by Mr Soames as ‘the most powerful of its kind in the world’, SD Tempest was commissioned especially to support the navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
It has already played a key role in moving the Portsmouth-based ship of the same name in and out of the city, and will do the same for HMS Prince of Wales, which is set to be commissioned next year.
Speaking to The News, vice admiral Radakin said securing Serco’s backing once more was ‘very significant’.
He said: ‘In the Royal Navy, we believe in working with outside companies to help us deliver what we have to for the country.
‘A war-fighting navy is built up of many things. We have to be able to run our ships in and out of naval bases in a safe way, and the partnership with Serco allows us to do that incredibly effectively – around the whole country, with all our bases.’
Devised in the early 2000s, the Armed Forces Covenant gives businesses, charities and local communities the chance to support the military through action.
It was created to give organisations a platform to show their recognition of the efforts of those who serve Britain through the military.
Serco was one of the document’s early signatories and achievers of the Gold Award under the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme, which is given to bodies which show ‘outstanding support’ to the armed forces.
Mr Soames, said it was a ‘delight and a privilege’ to sign the covenant again.
He added: ‘If you ask people to do what we ask our armed forces to do, the nation must be prepared to stick by them - and that includes our industrial companies.
‘Through signing the covenant once more, people within our business can not only reflect their respect for the armed forces, but they get to go off and get trained in what is undoubtedly one of the best establishments in the world.
‘It’s a win-win situation.’
All three branches of the British armed forces have veteran, volunteer reserves, who hold civilian jobs but undergo regular training.
Serco currently has about 83, who along with their peers will be celebrated during next week’s Armed Forces Week and the Reservists Day on Wednesday, June 27.