SIT­TING DUCKS!

Bri­tain’s nuke subs lie idle as Navy runs out of sailors

Midweek Sport - - NEWS - By SI­MON DEAN

BRI­TAIN’S nu­clear mis­sile sys­tem is in dan­ger of be­com­ing a £2BIL­LION-A-YEAR white ele­phant – be­cause the Royal Navy has not got enough sailors to crew its sub­marines.

Tri­dent subs car­ry­ing nu­clear weapons may have to stay in port as a re­sult of staff short­ages, in­ter­nal Sub­marines Ser­vice doc­u­ments re­veal.

That would mean Bri­tain would be a SIT­TING DUCK in case of sur­prise at­tack by nu­clear-armed en­emy states such as Rus­sia or China.

Weapons

Our tied-up fleet would also be use­less if Bri­tain needed to give an up­pity rogue state such as Iran a plu­to­nium-based clip around the ear.

The Min­istry of De­fence’s of­fi­cial risk reg­is­ter says en­gi­neer num­bers will also be down by 15 per cent within three years, caus­ing even more prob­lems for the British fleet.

One in seven weapons of­fi­cer posts ranked at lieu­tenant will also be va­cant in the com­ing years, mean­ing there may not be enough peo­ple to fire weapons.

The Royal Navy is des­per­ately try­ing to bol­ster its num­bers of ‘ex­pe­ri­enced’ mid-level staff on its six at­tack sub­marines and four large Van­guard boats that carry our Tri­dent nu­clear weapons.

The doc­u­ment states: “There is a risk that the Royal Navy will not have suf­fi­cient suitably qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced per­son­nel to be able to sup­port the man­ning re­quire­ment of the sub­ma­rine fleet.

“In­abil­ity to re­cruit, re­tain and de­velop suf­fi­cient qual­i­fied per­son­nel will re­sult in an in­abil­ity to sup­port the De­fence Nu­clear Pro­gramme”.

There are cur­rently 5,000 Navy sub­mariners, but at the mo­ment some ves­sels are go­ing out for tours with only 85 per cent of its staff ca­pac­ity filled.

For­mer First Sea Lord Ad­mi­ral Lord West called the sit­u­a­tion “wor­ry­ing” and said that the Navy must have pro­ce­dures in place to cope with any staff short­ages.

He said: “There’s no doubt that re­cruit­ing and keep­ing highly qual­i­fied nu­clear en­gi­neers has been tough. Nu­clear en­gi­neers have also be­come highly sought-af­ter by the civil in­dus­try as this coun­try has not trained enough.”

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