Navy tightens its belt and rings in changes for the New Year

Almost half the Royal Navy fleet of warships will be lost and officers’ promotions frozen for five years in a cost-cutting measure. An official Navy document, ‘Galaxy 36/06’, passed to the Telegraph newspaper states that all promotions to the rank of Lieutenant Commander or above will be halted until 2012. The fleet will lose almost half its warships with 19 out of 44 laid up in port.

With billions being spent on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the Ministry of Defence is desperate to make savings. If the warship cuts go ahead, 1,500 sailors will probably lose their jobs. It has also been proposed that the 2,900 sailors of the Royal Navy Reserve, which provides a backbone in many specialist areas, will be cut by as much as 20 per cent. There are going to be reductions too in the 1,000 sailors in the Full Time Reserve Service who are asked back to do specific jobs to fill gaps.

The leaked memo, from Vice-Admiral Adrian Johns, the Second Sea Lord, said: “In order to rebalance in favour of the front line we are focusing on officers of Lieutenant Commander and above. I anticipate a temporary reduction in promotion numbers primarily in the officer cadre for the period 2008 to 2010 and recovering to present levels in 2012.”

A serving Lieutenant Commander, equivalent to an Army major, who is currently paid £45,000 a year, described the freeze as “an absolute outrage”. “People who have worked extremely hard and given their careers to the Navy, have bled for the Navy are now being rewarded like this, he said. “It is also a real kick in the teeth for those commanders who will now probably never have the chance to captain a ship.”
Some officers believe the promotion freeze is part of a plan to force them into early retirement. There are also fears that the promotion freeze will have a negative effect on recruiting bright young officers to a service suffering substantial manning problems. Details on the promotion freeze and RNR cuts are expected in March.

A Navy spokesman said the Service was working hard to be more efficient “so that we can focus more of our resources on the front line. As a result, we have warned our people that there may be a temporary reduction in a few promotion opportunities, particularly for senior officers in headquarters posts.”

Original article by Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondant for