The Royal Navy may have to recruit up to 1,000 specialist personnel from countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States to crew the two new carriers under construction as the force teeters on the brink of a serious manpower shortage. That’s the claim being made by retired Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham;
There is a deal on the table but it falls very, very far short. The navy has been looking at the possibility of recruiting from other appropriate nations to assist with manning ships.
Current estimates show that the Royal Navy will need up to 4,000 new personnel to crew the carriers and the new fleet of Astute-class nuclear submarines. Observers have been quick to point out that 5,500 experienced service personnel were lost as a result of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review under the coalition government which they blame for the emerging crisis.
The first-of-class, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is expected to be commissioned in May 2017 followed by its sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales, a few years later. Already the Royal Navy’s air component, the Fleet Air Arm, has made notions that it may even be the United States Marine Corps who operate from the carriers first while the British F-35B Lightning II force is worked up to operational status. Rear Admiral Keith Blount who is in command of the carrier project made the announcement speaking to an audience at a defence exhibition in London in September stating that;
Given the fact that the U.S. Marine Corps are buying and will operate the same type of aircraft as we are buying and operating, it would make no sense whatsoever if we were to close down the opportunity and potential of the U.S. Marine Corps working from this flight deck. So yes, I expect the U.S. Marine Corps to operate and work from the deck of the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier. We are going to get the most bang for the buck we can for the U.K. taxpayer, and that’s one of the ways in which we’ll achieve it.