Redundancies – another step in the on-going destruction of the RN

Sep 29, 2011   //   by NavyLookout   //   Articles, blog  //  7 Comments
Redundant Royal Navy Sailor, HMS Cumberland

Sailors from axed frigate HMS Cumberland, recently serving off coast of Libya may face compulsory redundancy. Photo: Defence Images

On 30th September the Royal Navy announced the 1,020 personnel to be made redundant in the first ‘tranche’ of 5,000 redundancies that the government has forced on the RN. At least 350 of those leaving will have been thrown out against their will as here have not been enough volunteers for redundancy. This process is just another step in the on-going destruction of the RN that has been going on since 1990. Of course if there are fewer ships then it makes sense to reduce the number of sailors, but the basic folly lies in the cutting of the fleet, not the reduction in manpower that surely follows. Before the Defence Review many RN ships were “gapped”, ie going to sea short-staffed and when HMS Ark Royal and the 4 Type 22 frigates decommissioned many of their crews were quickly re-deployed to fill these gaps. It is not the case that the RN has a lot of people sitting around with nothing to do. Of 3 the services those in the RN arguably work the hardest with around 25% on active service at anyone time compared to the 4-5% of the Army and RAF.

“As the smallest of the 3 services with a close knit community, the impact of these cuts has been felt not just by the servicemen and women, but by their families and loved ones who are so often forgotten in the fight.” Bethany Torvell, The Navy Campaign

The redundancies have caused great uncertainty and damage to morale in the service at a time when it is already overstretched by the demands the government has been making on it. The process itself seems harsh and has been rushed – a direct result of the hasty and brutal October 2010 Strategic Defence Review, driven by accountants with no thought for the long term consequences. The reduction in numbers could have been achieved through natural wastage by a slow down in recruiting and more incentives to take voluntary retirement. This might take longer but would probably not cost much more as there is considerable expense in recruiting and training people anyway.

Like most organisations the RN’s people are its most important asset. Decommissioning a ship, which is ultimately just metal, is one thing but people are special. Those that have risked their lives or at the very least made big personal sacrifices for their country deserve particular respect. Amongst the 400 who will be sacked there are likely to be a few who were only recently serving in HMS Cumberland, HMS Iron Duke, HMS York and HMS Brocklesby on active service off the coast of Libya. This seems to be a particular injustice. There MoD has devised a bizarre formula for sackings which means if you were on a ship that went out to Libya in March but came back in June you may be fired but if you went to Libya in April and are still out there you will not be fired this time round! This is just another example of how governments in recent years have treated servicemen with contempt, sending them into warzones when it suits them often ill-equipped, and now tossing them on the scrap-heap when they return. It is simple political cowardice – sending people off to fight but failing to look after them fairly and properly because it would be unpopular to take money from other government department’s budgets.


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  • OUTRAGEOUS!! My mate has been made compulsory redundant, he is a stoker, however i know for a fact that there are classes of stokers going through Raleigh right now!! That cant be right surely”!! does anyone have any ideas how he can fight this?

    • It’s completely bizarre Emma. There are most certainly laws regarding the hiring and firing of people and I’m pretty sure that it is not allowed to Fire someone uner the guise of cutting the workforce, whilst atthe same time hiring new people.

      The more I read about the cuts, the more it seems that the people making them have no understanding of how the services work. Sailers work for the navy, not for the ships they serve on, so if a ship is decommissioned, the crew just gets assigned elsewhere, the way I’m reading it though, it seems that as units are decommissioned, the people currently assigned to those units are been laid off. It makes absolutly no sence.

      It’s a sad state of affairs, almost everyone I served with when I was in the navy has left now and most have them have very bitter feelings towards the way the navy is been run these days. I love the navy and look back on my days there with great fondness, but with the way things are now, I don’t think I’d have the heart to rejoin again.

      • totally bizarre!! funninlgly enough he was on the Campbletown which has just been decommissioned. I know there are so many lads hanging around the dockyard with nothing to do!! All the lads in the workshops have just been told to think of a project for themselves, some are even making motorbikes, there is just nothing for them to do that is navy related. Just lots of bimbling round the dockyard!! I got made redundant in 96 (compulsory) when the medical branch went tri service and 6 months later they realised their mistake and went on a massive recruiting drive, but unless i paid my redundancy money back i wasnt allowed to rejoin but they still took on and trained medics from scratch which wud of cost hundreds of thousands per medic i would imagine, so it just goes to show that they have learnt absolutely nothing when it comes to wasting money!!!!

        • Emma, I would really like to hear about you and your friends experience with regards to the Redundancies. I am currently on Leadership and gathering information on the subject for a presentation. Any help or information will be very much appreciated. Regards.

  • ok, it does not make sense. If they are cutting over 1,000 Royal Navy Sailors.. then why are there still adverts for recruitment on Television?

    • The Royal Navy recruiting targets are the lowest they have been for years. There is also a long waiting list for those hoping to join (up to a year in certain specialisations). We plan for a degree of natural outflow but this is hugely upset by redundancies at this scale. The same redundancies are very unsettling for those that remain. Who is going to be selected when the next tranche is decided? I suspect that there will be fewer volunteers but who knows. I believe that the RN is the only part of our military that can promote the UKs interests by being persistently present where those interests are. We should be investing in the RN and looking after the maritime domain – we are totally dependant on it for trade, energy and more.

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