Once again, the Royal Navy was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the closing months of 2017
Allegations of improper behaviour amongst crews on nuclear ballistic missile submarines, the possibility that the two assault ships HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion, plus up to three Type 23 frigates were being offered for sale to South American countries, plus the fact that there are so few spare parts in the navy that cannibalisation of ships is widespread to keep a handful at sea.
The last story was revealed by the National Audit Office and they reported that the use of spare parts from ships, out of service, had increased by over 49 percent in just the last five years. The Ministry of Defence denied the claims, saying that the practice was only used when ‘absolutely necessary’.
Despite these assertions from Government, the fact is that even ships being built, the submarine HMS Artful was delayed from completion because parts from her were removed to keep one of her already commissioned sisters at sea.
What is more worrying is the fact that this act meant an extra £5million was added to her overall cost. The NAO discovered that the Royal Navy had to exchange parts from one ship to another in no fewer than 795 times, or 66 occasions each month.
She is the second of a class of a projected 18 similar vessels all armed with the new Kalibr cruise missile system and capable of speeds of up to 30 knots.
The ship was originally built for the US Navy as the submarine rescue ship USS Greenlet and first commissioned into service in May 1943. She was transferred to Turkey in 1970 and was after another 47 years of operational service decommissioned at Istanbul Naval Shipyard on 16 November.
Her place in the fleet has been taken by TCG Alemdar which commissioned in January 2017.
Communication with the 34 year old submarine and its 44 person crew was lost on 15 November. Over a dozen navies in the region helped in the search for the missing vessel.
At the end of the month, the rescue mission was concluded as following a suspected explosion near its last known location hopes of saving the crew evaporated, particularly so as it was also known they had run out of oxygen to breathe.