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There such an aversion to resource spending that the ability to make use of the capital already spent cannot be exercised. Time and again we see different self-defeating measures put in place to reduce RDEL spend: the cap on RDEL itself, the ever shrinking cap on the numbers military personnel, civil service recruitment freezes and one-in-two-out initiatives. Why did that project overrun by billions? Because the SRO had three other projects and couldn’t keep on top, but don’t worry it has its own SRO now. We are bringing in consultants because they are paid from a different budget. Such and such a ship is laid up awaiting crew, such and such a brigade hollowed out, lowered readiness levels and no support to maintain stocks.

If governments want to look good, they increase CDEL, hypothecated to something shiny, like AUKUS or Tempest, but it takes people to make it happen. It takes people to buy it, to operate it, to maintain it and at the end of the day dispose of it. It’s time that this extreme aversion to RDEL was put back in its box, and a better system than resource account budgetting put in place to keep a lid on quotidian expenditure.

We need to hire RFA crews, and even if we can’t pay them what they deserve, a few extra peanuts wouldn’t hurt.


With a head of service heading for the off ramp ( commodoreRFA) with his notice in and job advertised. The role is a poison chalice. Who would want to be figurehead of an organisation With no power to effect change ?
The role requirements are to say yes to admirals and over achieve whilst under resourced and be hamstrung by outdated civil service policies.
The salary offered for that role is well below head of an organisational scale. Why would anyone take that ?
The future is not looking bright.

Matthew Radford

As a 59 year old merchant seman who has worked for the RFA as a steward/ assistant cook in the past, be of any use.

Craig Harris

Yes, there is no maximum age to restrict joining, as long as you can get an ENG1.


Stewards of any age are of no use.

Simon Conran

What a stupid comment. This attitude achieves nothing except antagonising people. You wonder why the RFA is short of people.


Yes, they are short in all areas. If you’re interested in the organisation, what it delivers and understand the limitations, the RFA need good people.


Get in there, Matt… after a varied career in the military and civilian sector, I joined the RFA in 2022 at the ripe age of 60 and half.. Having now completed my apprenticeship, I see it as the perfect retirement job..


yes, you are hired!

Jason Hartley

Why not just change the pay award to attract the crews you want ? There are not many in the fleet auxiliary service .. in the grand scheme of things it would only take a 1000 mobility cars to pay for the increase.


Because of the unrelenting pressure on government-mandated budgets, particularly the resource budgets from which staff are paid. You can’t afford to recruit more and you can’t afford to increase salaries, but you can afford to effectively transfer MCM and undersea management shipping from RN to RFA, increasing RFA manning requirements still further. RFA Proteus, Stirling Castle, the rest of the ships in both series: a bargain, until you have to crew them. Then there will be the second and third Fleet Solid Support Ships to crew from next decade. There will probably only ever be one FSS available.


Need to retain the people to train new recruits with the skills to RAS etc, time is passing by and the risk is the existing experience will leave, then what are they going to go when the capabikty has really been lost through skills and assets?
FSS will arrive, one day, but will the RFA exist by then…..


They will get no major uplift of pay if the nurses and Doctors got nothing what chance the RFA.

Last edited 2 months ago by Dave
John Clark

The decline in personnel numbers will simply continue until wages are reviewed.

It simply has to, or the RFA will cease to become effective and our expeditionary Carrier Strike capability won’t stretch much further than the Isle of White!

The MOD has to increase wages across the board to rectify the situation.


And the NHS and social care and the and the


Large parts of the Tory backbenches are demanding either big personal tax cuts or the PM’s head. The PM is worried about the effect of a Liz Truss style loss of marker confidence on his personal reputation.

So much easier to kick the RFA onto the post election long grass.


It’s an unmanaged decline. No one knows or cares about 1500 civil servants who work somewhere for an organisation called the RFA. They see the NHS and are affected by its performance or non-performance, yet the political will is to hold the line and award a real terms pay cut to nearly all.
When the election comes in …. March24 – Jan25 will anything change?
New projects are headline grabbers, but where are the day to day running costs coming from? Treasury/Mod are saving money by not employing the real number that is required in all branches.
Despite punching above its weight for its whole existence, the RFA is not seen to be important enough to save, till they need something done around the world! We all clapped for the key workers during Covid, look at how they were rewarded for stepping up.
However, perhaps of greater concern, our foes know the RFA and its reducing abilities, I’m sure they are watching closely of course…..


The NHS has 1.6 million employees: of which 350,000 are nurses and 100,000 are doctors. The rest are overpaid administrators.

The answer is simple: front line – big pay increases; back office – pay freezes to fund.

Same for military, fire service etc.


Same as military, less than 20% are combat troops for say Army
lets not have military intelligence, logistics , engineering, medical etc
You have these strange ideas about how major health organisations run.
lets have doctors and nurses ( not even mentioning other health professionals such as podiatrists , dieticians, opticians, x ray technicians/professionals, nuclear heath specialists and so on) answering phones, and ‘administering’
lets hope you have a desire to learn and cast off old opinions that arent valid

I went to a busy private optical chain the other month. There was maybe 2 or 3 clinical opticians, they needed 7-8 people to work with admin and dispending of glasses

As an aside my father left school to learn a trade and completed that , changed to seafaring and became a marine engineer. In later life in his 50s became Chief Engineer at an acute hospital , overseeing the maintenance staff and engineering systems. So much for *administrators* , although I suppose he was one.

Last edited 2 months ago by Duker

Some administration is required but the amount that the Government has is insane. The increase in the number of people employed by the government post COVID is also incredible, the NHS added 600,000 staff. The civil service on average work 3 days a week. There is plenty of fat to trim that could be used to pay more money to our hard pressed front line staff.

Simon Conran

This is so correct. The rise of the administration class everywhere is something that has to be seen to be believed.


The registered nurses and doctors are simply two of the professions and people that make the NHS workI think you forget the following:

pharmacists (15,000)
pharm technicians (30,000)
pharm assistants
physios ( 30,000)
physio assistants
biomedical scientists
lab technicians
occupational therapists ( 40,000)
occupational therapist assistants
play therapists
nursery nurses
speech and language therapists
speech and language therapist assistants
care co-coordinators
dental nurses
operating department practitioners
health care assistants in every area ( 380,000 of them)
associate practitioners ( nursing)
clinical phycologists
CBT therapists
emergency care assistants ( old ambulance techs)
plaster technicians
catering assistants
cooks and chiefs
anaesthetic assistants
drivers ( patient transport, logistic drivers, couriers)
Medical devices technicians
IT help desk workers
IT system builders
It system architectures
health and safety officers ( to make sure we don’t give people legionella etc)
patient liaison officers ( to help people find the care they need)
phone operators
Maintenance teams
experts in operations of large scale power generators ( every hospital has a generator that could power small communitity)
logistic experts
Warehouse workers
HR experts

as for actual managers 3% of the NHS staff are managers…although almost everyone in the NHS with experience in one of the many roles above is expected to undertake management of their teams….

Also as the NHS is expected to plan what care is needed, when and how it’s delivered ( hospitals and services don’t just appear out of thin air) actually planning a service that provided the birth to death care of 70 million… it’s managers tend to be experts in how to set up services and understand population heath needs….so the pure managers tend to have highly specialist knowledge.

Best not make comments when you know nothing at all about the subject.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jonathan

It’s the usual blow hards….

Trim some fat they say….slash the red tape….cut spending…find efficiencies!!

But when you ask them exactly what they want to cut all you get is silence…like they haven’t the foggiest what they talk of….

The truth meanwhile stares them in the face….we’ve had 15 years of cuts, dropping investment year on year….and things are getting worse and worse.

I wonder if they could be related.

Truth is the Conservative Government has been doing exactly what they want, cutting everything for 14 years and we are where we are. They’re now intellectually bereft of ideas, with no plan in any direction as their sole mantra of cutting everything in sight has singularly failed to deliver the nirvana they thought it would. Not one single Government Dept is functioning well, potholes in every road, real wages falling, falling further and further behind the US, economy in the doldrums…


So moving back to the RFA, the subject of concern, 14 years ago it was pretty lean, there were shortages occasionally, but we have been told to trim back and been forced to cut into the bone. That has contracted an infection and led to us fighting to survive one thing after another.
Where is the recovery coming from, who has the vision to repair and rebuild the RFA. All we hear is a wish list of OC, new ships one day and reform, its all political spin to say the right thing but delay delivery till…. whenever.
MARs / FSS has been promised for 25 years and FFS will arrive… lets just guess at 10 years, 2034. The 2 news ships have stretched crew availability to beyond the limit.
As long as the RFA limps along it will exist, breaking the people along the way. When the experience has gone, perhaps in the next very few years, then what? When we can’t man the ships that are needed it will become ineffective and slightly pointless. We are on the edge of that cliff right now, parachuting HQ staff onto ships and shuffling people to fill gaps. Pragmatic yes, frustratingly and demoralising yes, just as well the 4.5% pay rise will keep everyone happy. Oh…….


the increases in funding of benefits and the NHS are obscene and every other thing the government does has paid the price, be it education, defence or infrastructure


“The number of NHS staff has grown materially in the past decade. Since 2010, NHS staffing has increased by 263,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff, [4,5,6] including 42,000 more doctors and 55,000 more nurses, health visitors and midwives, with an estimated increase of 4,600 doctors and 2,400 nurses in general practice”


If you live in Greater London, the cap is set at:

£23,000 a year (£1,916.67 a month) for couples (with or without children) and single parents with dependent childrenFor Greater London residents, from April 2023 the limit on benefit payments will increase to:

£25,323 a year (£2110.25 a month) for couples (with or without children) and single parents with dependent children.

Last edited 2 months ago by Grant

Well if you consider in 2019/20 the NHS would have 470 million patient episodes every year and by 2022 this was at 570 million contacts….that’s around a 20% increase over 2 years…that’s why the NHS has more funding it’s seeing so many more people….if you want healthcare you have to pay for it and the NHS is litterally the cheapest heathcare service in the western world…we have had our health so cheap for so long we have no understanding of the actual costs….we can stop funding the NHS…but you will have to pay for healthcare yourself and to get that you will probably have to pay about twice as much as the NHS get paid per person…as the NHS delivers the care for less than half the cost of a private provider…take knee replacements…the NHS gets paid around £5000 to replace your knee…if you paid privately your looking at £15,000 for a knee replacement..

if you want obscene healthcare costs the US system sucks up around 3.5 trillion dollars a year…that’s around 13,000 dollars a year ( £11,000) …the NHS gets get around £180 billion or £2700 per person…so the US pays around four times the cost per person for healthcare than the Uk pays the NHS..that’s obscene….what the NHs gets paid is literally the minimum possible to have a modern healthcare system…the only way to cut the cost is if the British public actually stop treating their health like it’s someone else’s problem.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jonathan

The NHS is the worst performing public healthcare system in the G7. Stick that up your conceited arse.


And where is your evidence or is it just something you read in the papers..because i actually study this stuff as a profession and I can tell you that’s just rubbish…unless you can give me some evidence ?It’s not conceited pointing out spreading miss information. As a final point you may want to reflect a bit on how you talk to people as acting like a child does not become and makes you seem foolish.

John Clark

There is an obvious solution that will have to be implemented if this gets any worse, disband the RFA and indict it’s assets into the RN.

RFA personal that want to, could be inducted as RN sponsored reservists, like some of the civilians working within the RAF as part of Air Tanker.

It would mean the RN would have to juggle things about, but I can’t see any other option, the RFA assets can’t be allowed to simply be tied up alongside.

Carrier Strike is at stake here…


The RFA is merchant navy and the RN aren’t qualified to run the service… has to satisfy the MCA. Its merchant navy for good reason despite being in battleship grey.

Its not just money that’s the problem… its the restrictions being imposed such as No Smoking… it might be ideal along with no drinking but it’s unrealistic in a service dependant on older workers who are not going to ‘give up’ just like that. I suspect that’s also an issue with RN recruitment. When you’re away for a couple of months you don’t want a load of rules and regs that impinge on your human rights… (no matter how unhealthy) if it’s not going to affect your work. People don’t want to sneak round the ship just to have a fag! (I am a non smoker BTW).

It’s not just crew either… the staffing of civil servants is desperate. Here they are linking with the RN but staff are very overworked and very underpaid. They get taken for granted but they make the service work… and get sh*t on for their efforts… and end up going on sick leave because they get no support and work masses of unpaid overtime… they suffer from stress and depression! When staff have to work part time and claim benefit because it’s better paid than working FT you know there is a crisis! These same people are also using foodbanks!!!

So yes … things are critical … they have wanted to privatise the RFA for years… a dumb thing to do but government don’t see it that way… the whole shebang could leave the country hopelessly exposed if the fat hit the fan! Navy/ MOD budgets are pared to the bone… there’s no meat left … the solution is more money and more attractive conditions! Neither are on offer. ‘One Navy’ won’t work!!!

John Clark

I take your points Sheena, but the reality is, if the RFA reaches a point that it can’t carry out it’s core tasking, then it’s effectively disbanded itself.

It’s assets transferred to the RN and commissioned as any necessary work and crew training is carried out.

It would mean sacrifices, as personnel would have to be found, but there simply wouldn’t be a choice in the matter.

The assets are required, they are government owned and they would transfer them from one service to the other if required.

Like I said, RFA personnel that wanted to
(and qualified), could transfer over to the RN as sponsored reservists, just like Air Tanker do.

Not ideal, but I will guarantee such an eventuality has been planned for.


I don’t think sponsored reserve means what you think it does.

The RFA, to my knowledge, are already sponsored reserves. This means that if they are required to go into a war zone then they would be activated as reservists and thus come under the armed forces act. It requires the secretary of defense to activate the sponsored reserves status.

As this is the case there wouldn’t be a need for the RN to take over the RFA, just put RN sailors on the ships in addition to the RFA, this would avoid any political issues.


I think we are at that cliff right now. We are pissing people off by moving them around and gapped billets have increased for longer.
There is not much positive going on unfortunately.
Perhaps Full Time Reserve Service is the stepping stone into the RN. I am sure the devil will be in the detail, but to keep the experience long enough to train the next folk is crucial for capability and that will take…. 10 years…maybe longer.


It seems that for every ships crew at sea we need 50 times as many shore staff on Senior Managers wages to run things. These people decide what happens on the front line, despite l lot of them not having been their years as they go from shore job to shore job.
What they ALL seem to forget is without these ships and crew afloat NONE of them would have a job in the RFA. They work for the ships and not the other way around.


Generally it’s a 3 to 1 ratio. You can eliminate these shore drafts if you like but all that does is reduce the opportunities people have for respite so they get pi**ed off and leave.


The govt refusal to pay the civil service, doctors, teachers, sailors etc etc is purely a political one. Plenty of money for dead cat projects and schemes within the govt it seems, at least the donors have done well for themselves.

Jason Hartley

Nurses and doctors get incredibly good pay and benefits for what they do .. don’t go to that stale old chestnut..they’ve just had a very good increase and bonuses..I know because I have family that have done very nicely out of it .


What are these benefits that nurses have that you talk off? Also the pay rise was well below inflation and went nowhere near to making up for the, over 10 years, of next to nothing pay rises.


Very nicely?

A below inflation raise? i.e. they’re making less money in real terms than last year??

They must be overjoyed….

When the number of Dr’s and Nurses going to the US and Australia increases further will you still say they get ‘incredibly good pay and benefits’??


Simply as an OCD aside, shouldn’t Argus ‘…soldier on…’?

Kev bulldog Robinson

Retention and Recruitment and cost of living should be the way forward as a proud ambassador for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary how can I be proud when the outsider only sees and hears negativity


A very sad state of affairs and the money could be found if the political will was there. How much are all those lawyers raking in on the Covid enquiry? It’s just a case of having the right friends then you can get your head in the trough.
My sources tell me that Lyme Bay has actually been alongside in Cyprus in part because of a significant mechanical failure.
Mounts Bay has just returned from the Baltic after being buzzed by Russian aircraft. She has no CIWS currently fitted.
The clowns that are currently governing this country are doing one hell of a job in wrecking everything they touch.


Allegedly £750,000 / day. The result will be what, another version of Hello, he said, she said, we had a few parties and jokes. All about saving face.
Not much learning for the next pandemic!


You cannot be serious! No CIWS, what????
There are so many CIWS lying around the quayside at Portsmouth getting rusty!
Ah, it must be again salt corrosion problems when putting them on ships.
Strangely, all other navies sail around with CIWS installed permanently.
Russky go ahead and buzz more RAF ships for target practice, lol.


The RFA have their own allocation. I won’t get into numbers, but there’s a reason she didn’t have them.


no money?


My sad predictions if something drastic isn’t done to stop this death spiral…..

The Waves will either linger on until 2028 and then be sold or flogged earlier if there’s a defence review.

Fort Vic will through a massive effort deploy with the CSG in 2025 but then be immediately mothballed until around 2030 when the first FSS arrives.

The 2nd purpose built surveillance ship will be at the very best deferred until 2030 with HMS Scott run on. Only the need to replace the latter makes me think it won’t be canned just yet.

The Bays like Argus will be life extended.

Maybe 1 more MCM mothership will be purchased from the commercial sector to be based in The Persian Gulf but no more. Best case scenario the 6 remaining Hunts are retained for longer, worst case they just decide the T31’s and other surface vessels can carry the autonomous kit.

Hope I’m wrong!


No logistic ships
No combat ships
No manpower
No money
No hope,,, end of story after 400 years!

Peter (Irate Taxpayer)


You are (sadly) 100% right = something very drastic now needs to be done.

Over the last thirty years, it is quote obvious (to me at least) that the RFA has steadily, become ever more integral to how the Royal Navy itself now operates.

The RFA is now, more so than ever before, a key part of the fleet. Therefore its “support ships” are routinely operating in many potentially hazardous environments.

The latest examples of this happening in practice are the two most-recent RFA purchases:

  • Sterling’s Castle will be operating as a mothership in the potentially hazardous mine clearance operations: a role that used to be (until quite recently) undertaken by the numerous smaller RN vessels
  • Proteus will be operating in the very deep sea battlespace

Furthermore, out in the “grey warzone” of the eastern Mediterranean, the RFA and RN ships are working alongside each other in what is potentially a high-risk region.

Thus the RFA are no longer ” The backroom boys” as they definitely were, lets say, about fifty years ago.

Therefore, in the 21st century, we have one set of 13no UK government-owned grey-painted ships that are crewed by civilian (RFA) and many other grey-painted ships (approx. 40, of all shapes and sizes) that are crewed by the armed services (RN). This is obviously an organizational “divide”.

However, out on the high seas (which is where it really matters!), is there now really any discernable “dividing line” left separating these two services?.

Thus, whilst I am quite sure that my next suggestion will offend many traditionalists, is now the right time to be asking this next question?;

“Should the Royal Fleet Auxiliary now be completed merged into the Royal Navy?
= so that all of the support ships become fully integrated into the RN?

Thus ranks, training and and rates of pay (RN/RFA) would be merged into one.

Thereafter, the crews for all UK grey-painted ships would all be drawn from one common pool of about 36,000 personnel.

That merger could potentially offer both more flexibility and more continuity: especially meaning that all existing vacancies could be quickly filled. It might also (ultimately) offer better and more opportunities for the crews themselves: especially the opportunity to serving on a greater variety of ships. Being able to draw on a common pool of crew might potentially also offer more certainty about postings (i,e. fewer short notice changes)

Your thoughts gentlemen (and ladies) please about what I would be the first to accept is quite a radical proposal!

regards Peter The Irate Taxpayer

John Clark

I’ve hypothesised the very same thing above Peter, we may have no choice, if the situation gets worse it will directly effect Carrier Strike.

Anonymous Coward

Although the option may seem attractive on paper, there are major hurdles to it. Some major hurdles to the proposition being, that lifestyle, living conditions, treatment of personnel, attitudes to work, individual professional competency and age of personnel are so vastly different between the RN and RFA that that move would effectively require making the vast majority of the existing RFA workforce redundant – at who-knows-what immediate expense.

The number of grown adults in the RFA who would be both willing – and able – to go back to living in a mess, eating poor food, and being subjected to the infantilising RN discipline will likely be a near-zero, leaving the RN with a few thousand extra billets (or likely many more, as they would initially need to overman the newly ex-RFA ships) to fill with personnel who have not yet developed the experience and capability to run the ships properly.

Welsh Boyo

RFA R.I..P. it all began when the deck officers were paid a retention allowance


The RFA undoubtedly deserve a higher pay rise than 4.5% and given their low numbers it’s not a huge amount compared to other areas of expenditure in the public sector.

But the unions won’t help their case if they maintain the “pay cut in real terms of 30% since 2010” line. That’s the trick the junior doctors are trying and it’s not working.
In reality most people have seen either pay decline or pay stagnation in real terms since 2010 – ie in the aftermath of the financial crash. They are referring back to the peak of the “years of plenty” (pre-2009), and until the economies of the West return to those days they are asking for the unaffordable.
The crash, the pandemic, the Ukraine war, the need to move to zero carbon, and the declining birth rate in the west all means that economic growth has been marginal. Which means increasing government spending has to be done through increasing taxation; ie higher rates or new taxes.
While this can be done for a while, inevitably it both harms what economic growth there is and results in a public backlash against all taxation. The backlash results in populist leaders who then usually cut spending far too deeply. If the unions push for the RFA to get 30% pay increases, don’t be surprised if some opportunist politician suggests the RFA be privatised. That would be a disaster, endangering the effectiveness of the entire surface fleet.


The junior doctors have 9% plus 3% on the table now yet are on strike with Cheltenham A&E closed apparently. Fighting to regain the eroded 35% over time is still reasonable but its not coming in one lump. 12% as a starting point, is just that a start.
Don’t forget that there will be other world events to put pressure on the economy and affordability of the MoD. Privatising may still look attractive.

The Whale Island Zoo Keeper

By this time next year the world will be a different place.


Yes and the carrier strike group 2025 will then consist of 3 ships, 1 Dutch, 1 USN, and 1 RAF, lol


Elections …UK , USA ?


The RFA would not be in such a bad state if the senior management gave a toss beyond their own agendas and pensions. The decision makers within the RFA are all senior enough to have a lot in the pension pot and not much if anything left on their mortgage. The Cdre RFA, by the nature of the temporary role, have a vested interest in smoothing over the cracks as best they can hoping it wont capitulate on their watch. And hey you never know one of of them might even get an OBE? Unfortunately paving over the cracks for over 10 years and being operationally focused rather than people focussed has incressed the outflow of long serving RFA folk. They don’t have to lie to, threaten, and deceive their own employees to maintain ships at sea but that’s what they’ve done. Forcing people to do a job several grades above they’re band/rank whilst simultaneously sending them a letter telling them they’re not good enough to do even the band they’re at, (and therefore cannot possibly be paid for it) is from a management perspective totally bonkers, even narcissistic. But they persist with this treatment. The outflow of people is far worse than it should be because of this behaviour. Its easy to blame wages and Tories but how its handled by in NCHQ has compounded the problem. If you put people first they’ll be more willing to ride out this current storm, but we’re not people we’re just a commodity.


What John said !

Who feels valued?
Churn of appointers has been dreadful for the whole organisation over the last 3 years.
Short term appoinments now create more workload and stress just to keep the wheels on the wagon.

Someone needs to tell the truth to power and say No, we cant do it all anymore, were not resourced to do what is being asked, especially with new tasks being added and non removed.

I hope a change of direction comes soon and there is some leadership perhaps even a realistic vision to buy into, we cant have another Yes man.


When mother was driving a car she was a ‘driver’ but most certainly not the same as the HGV ‘driver’ on the same road. The ‘driver’ on the bridge of a 40,000-ton RFA tanker and on the bridge of a 6,500-ton HMS may seem similar but their training, level of knowledge and responsibilities and career objectives are different and failure to understand that is a serious issue.
The ‘driver’ on a RFA is a  24-hour-a-day 7-day a week ‘seafarer’ not a 9-to-5 Monday to Friday desk driving Civil Servant. However they do appear to be treated on pay scales as Civil Servants that ignores the ‘real free-world market place’ and therefore recruitment is a serious issue.
Let me give an example, I used to work in a small  9-to-5 unit of around 20 people, about a quarter of us were specialists and headed by a SCS grade 1 – same as the newly advertised Head RFA…but no comparison in the responsibilities, duties and knowledge. Something is wrong.


Pay rise is must. I understand it will cause government overall pay-rise (which I think shall be considers, but discussed not here) and it is difficult because of it.

But, pay rise is must. We need these vessels at sea, and they need decent number of crew.

Option-1: Out source even more fraction of the fleet. “Out source” cost includes salary, but it is not “salary” in HMT term. So, it can be risen.

Option-2: Up rank all the crew. “With automation and reduced crew, responsibility of each crew has increased and hence they shall be promoted to higher rank (rank = responsibility)”. A sailor covering tasks worth 2 sailors in the past, worth the rank of warrant officer, simply because s/he is covering double task. If this logic can go, rank them up?

This will rise the man-power cost? No it won’t, because RN and RFA sees severe man-power shortage. Just use the money they should have used if the man-power be fully addressed.

But, it will reduce the “money earned by reduced man-power”. Then what? Just abandone some of the new purchase program, and sell non-usable assets (such as Waves).

I think rebalance is needed here. RN/RFA “enjoyed” man-power holiday caused by covid recession, and it has just ended.

Malcolm gray

I was RFA 22 years ..left in 2011 but there was a time when I was non/contract steward…to be honest loved it …I could do 4 month trips or a month choice..the pay not as good as a contract steward…but for me long as I got by ..I was not talking anyones job as soon as a contract steward needed job I was off . maybe that’s the answer


The reality is to give every member of the RFA a 15% pay rise would be next to nothing in the grand scheme of departmental budgets. The blowback will be from other civil servants who simply won’t care about the real terms pay cuts over the lat decade or that they are competing in an international market place for these people.


The current health status of the RFA is somewhat a case of “Bite the hand that feeds you” with it being just another example of how Westminster pander to the most dysfunctional unionised public sector organisations, like the NHS and the Education system through the continuous shovelling of money at them, despite the fact that the only result achieved is increased failure and scandal. Yet the few state funded Organisations which are successful; the Armed Forces including the RFA are continuously punished, and quite frankly abused, through every increasing funding cuts and simultaneously increasing deployments. It is to my mind a classic case of punishing success and rewarding failure, time and time again. It is tragic to think that the only thing that can change this, is an all out military attack on the UK Mainland resulting in a massive loss of life.

The RFA should be seen as an absolutely crucial enabler as it is the life blood of practically all RN operational deployments. Without the necessary deep Maritime Logistics capacity in place, the RN cannot fight wherever it is sent. I feel that Funding, Resources and Manpower retention should be prioritised over the Carrier Strike Mission, not least because the RN’s overall budget is not realistic or anything like adequate enough to perform the role properly without significant capability compromises i.e. AEWC and Offensive ASW Helicopter Capability as just a few examples. Westminster should look to matching the pay scales of Commercial Shipping or even the Cruise line Industry if these are some of the draws for personnel leaving the RN / RFA or not joining up in the first place.


The armed forces, unfortunately, have not been successful for many, many years. The Falklands was, historically speaking, a minor conflict. The need for conventional forces at the historic scale passed away with the advent of nuclear weapons. We have never needed a large army for self-defence. The sea is the widest trench in the world.

The RFA, like the other armed forces, is a dysfunctional public service run on a shoestring as a retirement fund for the older staff. Nothing should be expected of it, for nothing will be forthcoming.

Simon Conran

The largest problem, IMHO, is that our place of work, whether at sea or on land, is no longer enjoyable. We all have to live within a virtual court room. Everything we do, everything we say, you have to ask yourself, “will I have a leg to stand on in court if anything goes wrong?”
I’m sure if Captains could just command their ships again with minimal regulations, and everyone else just get on with their jobs without risk assessments and other paperwork all the time, then life at our place of work would be more fun and rewarding, and thus would go a long way to resolving the retention problem.
The motivation for this virtual court room?
See post below. £750,000 per day for lawyers at the covid enquiry.

Simon Conran, RFA ’74 to ’87.


I’m positive the RFA is a safer place due to the paperwork (risk assessments and permits to work).

The question shouldn’t be, will I have a leg to stand on in court. It should be “will my team go home safe today”


That’s what many experienced people onboard are concerned about too. If 50% of the RFA have joined in the last 5 years as were told that means the depth of experience is diluted.


I’d like to see an example of a RA or PTW that saved the day. If there is one, then the competence of the crew member must be pretty low.
Your second paragraph, you’re correct, but that IS the question that we all have to ask ourselves nowadays.



Last edited 1 month ago by Theoden

Forget a pay rise, all appointed sea going personnel whether deployed in UK waters or foreign seas will be entitled to a pause in all tax paye payments. This will encourage the shore appointed billets to return back to sea. 1 for 1 leave to compete with the commercial sector. RN deployed receive LOA, sea pay and god knows what other entitlement, the RFA are the worse of cousins forget that all seafarers receive their tax back…that is a myth. Ensure the RN understand the worth of an experienced RFA seafarer, they perform a lot better than their RN counterparts for a lot less recognition. Finally just listen to the seafarers – they have a lot of answers to the problems, ask why people are leaving.

Last edited 1 month ago by Hard2Port