The Navy joins the RAF in eating its own
20 October 2008
The Royal Navy is cannibalising parts from various ships and submarines to keep other vessels afloat and operational it has emerged.
Like the RAF’s helicopter fleet, the Navy is taking parts from one ship or submarine to help keep another operational. The scheme allows the Navy to save time and money on buying new parts. However it is vastly depreciating the value of the fleet since many of the ships and submarines held in reserve are literally being gutted for parts.
Eventually a new part will have to be bought, but the cannibalisation method allows the Navy to delay this for as long as feasibly possible.
In the first nine months of this year the Navy has cannibalised the nuclear submarine fleet 188 times, the fleet of Destroyers 53 times, the frigate fleet 36 times, and 32 times for all other vessels.
The revelation that the nuclear deterrent is being gutted for parts is particularly worrisome. If there was a national or international emergency some of the Vanguard class submarines would most likely have to be left in the docks since they would most likely be missing parts crucial to the sub’s operations.
The MoD defended the cannibalisation, saying that the strategy made sense and saved money.
An MoD spokesman for the Clyde naval base said told the Herald: "Safety is our absolutely paramount concern, so when we have one boat tied up alongside and another due to go to sea which needs a part in a hurry, it makes sense to ensure that the patrol vessel is fully operational.
"If that requires moving kit from one boat to another, then that's the sensible solution.
"It also obviates the need to maintain huge stocks of parts. Spares can be ordered and obtained at fairly short notice to replace anything urgent."
The RAF has long used the practice of cannibalisation to keep its helicopter fleet airborne. MoD figures from earlier this year showed that the Apache, Merlin and Chinook fleet have all been gutted for parts on an almost weekly basis.