Thursday, 5 February 2004

Ceisteanna (26)

Brendan Howlin

Ceist:

21 Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Defence the total establishment level for the Naval Service as set out in the White Paper on Defence; the current number of personnel; the steps being taken to ensure that personnel numbers are brought up to the recommended level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3295/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Defence)

As part of the modernisation process, in December 2000, I authorised a new organisation for the Naval Service which saw an increase in personnel numbers from 959 serving at that time to a new establishment of 1,144.

The establishment and strength of the Naval Service, as advised by the military authorities, is provided below. The figures provided are as at 31 December 2003 in respect of the Naval Service. The Government remains fully committed to the policy of ongoing recruitment to ensure that an overall PDF strength of 10,500 is achieved and maintained.

It is proposed to recruit a further 14 cadets from the 2004 cadetship competition. The ongoing recruitment campaign for enlistment in the Defence Forces, which I have approved, is designed to address any shortfall in personnel in the Defence Forces, including the Naval Service.

Given the specialist nature of many of the additional positions, it was not possible to fill them until such time as personnel had completed the necessary training. It was always accepted that it would take a number of years for all appointments to be filled by suitably qualified people. Some 93 recruits were enlisted in the Naval Service in 2003 while 14 cadets and eight direct entry officers were also recruited during 2003.

In 2002, 100 recruits, nine engine room artificers and six electrical artificers were enlisted in the Naval Service. In addition, 13 qualified personnel, comprising four watchkeeping officers, four marine engineers and five electrical engineer officers were also appointed. Some 16 cadets were also enlisted from the 2002 cadetship intake. In 2001, 62 recruits, six cadets, one marine engineer, two watchkeepers and three electrical artificers were recruited to the Naval Service.

Where the need arises, competitions are organised to recruit specialist personnel by direct entry. Competitions have been advertised in recent years for marine engineer officers, watchkeeping officers, electrical engineer officers, electrical artificers and engine room artificers in the Naval Service.

Establishment and Strength of the Naval Service

31 December 2003.

Officers

NCOs

Privates

Total

Establishment

189

537

418

1,144

Strength

139

467

473

1,079