Royal Navy hit by major fuel theft – media
More than £250,000 ($327,000) of diesel was stolen from a Royal Navy warship, The Sun reported on Wednesday, describing the incident as one of the UK’s biggest fuel thefts.
The heist was believed to have been underway for weeks at a high security naval base, HMNB Devonport, in the port city of Plymouth in southwestern England.
The “siphoned” diesel was reportedly intended for HMS Bulwark, which is one of two amphibious assault ships in the Royal Navy. “They must have needed one hell of a jerrycan. The fuel that was taken was supposed to power the ship as it undergoes a refit,” a source told The Sun.
Local website Plymouth Live also reported on the theft through sources who said the diesel was not taken directly from the warship.
“The fuel was meant to be in one of those smaller six-wheel tankers, but didn’t arrive,” they said.
The scheme was only uncovered after a suspicious guard decided to check one of the trucks leaving the base.
“Naturally, the Navy is furious about it – even though none of their personnel were involved,” the source told The Sun.
The fuel was provided by a subcontractor working for Babcock International, a London-based aerospace, defense, and nuclear engineering services company. The firm declined to comment on the report when approached by the media.
An urgent investigation has been launched over the incident, with the source saying that leaving such an important vessel as HMS Bulwark “vulnerable and exposed like this is simply a travesty and Babcock has questions to answer.”
A Defense Ministry spokesman told The Sun that it was “aware of... the alleged theft of fuel from a contractor within HMNB Devonport,” adding that “there was no disruption to Defense operations” due to it.
Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP Luke Pollard reacted to the revelation by saying, “a huge amount of fuel stolen is not only embarrassing, but it also raises serious questions about security at one of our most secure naval bases.”
He was echoed by Rear Admiral Chris Parry, a former commander of the Amphibious Task Group, who insisted that allowing the theft was “incredibly careless. We expect our civilian contractors to look after us a lot better.”
“Right now I’d rather have the fuel go to the Black Sea than the black market,” he added.
The diesel, which can also be used in cars, was allegedly sold on the black market amid the fuel crisis in the UK caused by sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine and other factors.