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A Government retention payment scheme for Naval Service personnel to be extended

A Government retention payment scheme for Naval Service personnel to be extended

THE DEPARTMENT OF Defence is to extend one of its key measures to fix the retention staffing crisis in the Naval Service. 

As previously reported by The Journal, the Navy is losing staff and unable to man some naval ships at present. 

The crisis has seen the Cork Harbour based force drop to close to 800 personnel with a particular problem associated with specialist engine room technicians leaving the service.

A minimum strength for the Service is recommended to be 1,094 fully-trained personnel.

This evening the Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney, announced an extension to the Naval Service Sea-Going Commitment Scheme which includes a €10,000 allowance and significant expansion in the numbers eligible to participate. 

The Sea-Going Service Commitment Scheme for Naval Service personnel was introduced in 1 January 2021. The Department of Defence said the scheme was aimed at retaining experienced members of the Naval Service and also to incentivise sea-going duties.

The Minister said that an extension of the scheme and the reduction of eligibility criteria from 3 to 1 years’ service, which will capture almost all Able Seamen currently serving.

Applicants in the scheme will receive €10,000 (four staged payments of €2,500 following each six month period of sea-going rotation as long as the sailor is proven to have met the minimum required 60 patrol days for that period.

This payment is in addition to the payment of existing allowances, including patrol duty allowance and the naval service personal tax credit.

Sources have said that one issue facing personnel was the complexity of the scheme.

The Minister also said that a process to allow for detailed consideration of the Naval Service recommendations in the Report of the Commission on the Defence Forces has also commenced.

The Minister said that the move would “positively assist with the retention of adequate manpower and retain experienced personnel in the Naval Service”.

Mark Keane of PDFORRA welcomed the move and said his organisation, which represents all non commissioned personnel, had been campaigning for all personnel to be included in the initiative.  

“We have always felt that it was leading to a two tier Naval Service. 

“Whilst we welcome today’s announcement this we believe is only one of multiple steps which need to be taken to address the payment for our members who serve afloat currently.

“We look forward to engaging with the Department and the Minister in the coming weeks and months ahead to address the issues effecting our members currently,” he said.

Conor King, the General Secretary of the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO), said that while the move was positive, more action was needed.

“RACO has been asking the Minister and his Department for simple improvements to this complex and divisive scheme since its launch in January 2021,” said King.

“While this is a positive small step, the only thing that will retain highly qualified, experienced and hard working Naval Service personnel is a fair rate of patrol duty allowance.”

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