€10,000 loy­alty pay­ment to stem naval staff ex­o­dus

Irish Examiner Saturday - - Front Page - Sean O’Rior­dan De­fence Cor­re­spon­dent

Naval ser­vice per­son­nel have been thrown a fi­nan­cial life­line in the form of a €10,000 loy­alty pay­ment, which it is hoped will stem the ex­o­dus of trained crew mem­bers.

De­fence Min­is­ter Si­mon Coveney has an­nounced ex­tra money for per­son­nel who sign up for four years’ ser­vice and un­der­take two of those on seago­ing pa­trols.

Naval ser­vice per­son­nel nor­mally un­der­take a twoyear cy­cle of pa­trol du­ties, fol­lowed by two years of shore du­ties. Un­der the terms of Mr Coveney’s Sea Go­ing Ser­vice Com­mit­ment Scheme, they will have to com­plete a min­i­mum of 240 days on sea pa­trols dur­ing a two-year pe­riod to qual­ify for the pay­ment, which will be pro­vided in four six­monthly tranches of €2,500 and will cost up to €1.2m each year.

The pay­ment will not ap­ply to those with less than three years’ ser­vice be­cause they’re not con­sid­ered to be fully trained.

It is sim­i­lar to a loy­alty bonus given to air corps pi­lots a few years ago to en­sure they signed up for a min­i­mum pe­riod of ser­vice.

“This will give us certainty in our num­bers and al­low us to re­tain peo­ple,” said Mr Coveney.

Plans have been drawn up to pro­vide in­cen­tives to at­tract cer­tain spe­cial­ists into the naval ser­vice.

He said the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Ex­pen­di­ture has also agreed to this and the scheme will be aimed at sign­ing up ex­pe­ri­enced en­gine room fit­ters, hull fit­ters, elec­tri­cians, radar and ra­dio tech­ni­cians, and ma­rine engi­neer­ing of­fi­cers.

The naval ser­vice is crit­i­cally short of many of these spe­cial­ists and some pa­trols have re­cently been de­layed go­ing to sea be­cause they weren’t avail­able.

Mr Coveney said ex­act de­tails of the new ini­tia­tives will be dis­cussed with the two mil­i­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tive as­so­ci­a­tions — Raco for of­fi­cers and PDForra for en­listed per­son­nel — when he meets them next Tues­day along with se­nior of­fi­cials from the Depart­ment of De­fence.

The naval ser­vice is sup­posed to have a min­i­mum strength of 1,094, but lat­est fig­ures show it stands at 899 and, with a no-deal Brexit loom­ing, only five of its nine ships are op­er­a­tional.

“I’m not happy that we are where we are and we need to fix it,” he said.

Mr Coveney said he is hope­ful the navy will have six ships op­er­a­tional when LÉ Róisín com­pletes a re­fit.

Si­mon Coveney: Pay­out will give certainty on staffing num­bers.

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