Royal Navy In Portsmouth Braced For Cuts

About 350 sailors are being forced out of the Royal Navy against their will as part of defence cuts.

A total of around 1,020 Navy personnel will be told they are being made redundant in the first round of military job losses, a third of them compulsorily. Some losses are expected at Portsmouth Naval Base.

Some 810 sailors applied for redundancy but only 670 of them are being allowed to leave.

Meanwhile Defence Secretary Liam Fox seemed likely to spark a new political row over the Government's cuts to the armed forces when he said the past actions of military chiefs had helped lead to them having to be made.

He told the Guardian that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had to accept a share of the blame for the depth of cuts to the military budget that had led to thousands of redundancies.

He said:

"I think the MoD consistently dug a hole for itself that it eventually found that it could not climb out of.

"It is irritating to hear some of those who helped create the problem criticising us when we try to bring in a solution.''

The crisis reached its peak at the end of Gordon Brown's time as prime minister, he said.

"I think there had been a loss (of trust) and in the latter part of the Brown government there was an almost complete breakdown between the MoD and the Treasury and the MoD and No 10.''

Dr Fox said he wanted the armed forces to "take the pain early'' so the military can balance its books and regain lost credibility. Morale within the forces had "taken a knock'' but most people understood that reform "had to be done''.

He hoped there would be no more job losses beyond those already announced and that the Royal Navy might need to "increase in size towards the second half of the decade''. There might yet be recruitment in other areas.

The Daily Telegraph reported this week that navy personnel who risked their lives during the Libyan campaign - including crew members of HMS Cumberland, which helped rescue British citizens from the North African country in February - were among those being sacked.

The MoD stressed that nobody deployed on operations, preparing for operations or on post-tour leave on the day redundancy notices are issued would be forced out of their job.

Royal Marines, who form part of the Navy, are exempt from the current tranche of redundancies.

The plans to cut posts were announced earlier this year as part of a programme which could see 11,000 redundancies across the Royal Navy, Army and RAF by April 2015 in an effort to tackle the deficit and bring the defence budget under control.

Earlier this month about 920 soldiers and 930 RAF personnel were told they were being made redundant, 750 of them against their will.