Navy struggling to recruit submarine crews... because sailors can’t use Facebook underwater

HMS Astute, the first of the biggest ever hunter-killer submarines to be ordered by Britain's Royal Navy. © David Moir
Royal Navy recruiters are a having hard time finding young people to work on Britain’s submarines because nobody wants to be cut off from social media for up to 90 days at a time.

Days after Parliament voted to renew Britain’s continuous-at-sea-deterrent, a survey by research firm PA Consulting found the Navy is facing a huge recruitment crisis.

Young people are reluctant to become submariners partly because it means being at sea for three months at a time without their smartphones or access to social media.

Some crews on the Vanguard-class Trident submarines are having to sail three times a year because of the lack of recruits.

The Royal Navy introduced Project Faraday in a bid to encourage sailors to retrain as engineers capable of serving on submarines.
But according to research by PA Consulting, the project is so far failing to deliver.

We have never seen such a situation as we are facing,” a senior officer on the Faraday project said.

“There are recruits who want to serve in submarines, but they are getting harder to find and a massive challenge is keeping them in the Navy – many serve a few years and leave.

Being a submariner is a way of life. You are locked away on a very important job but it is true you cannot get on your mobile phone and you cannot Facebook your friends.”

The Ministry of Defence’s internal watchdog, the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator, warned of a shortfall of qualified engineers last month.

Its annual report described the shortfall as “the principal threat to the delivery of nuclear safety.”

One serving submariner told the Daily Express the job isn’t attractive to young sailors.

We’re all being asked to do extra tours, and there’s a lot of frustration.

There are key skill gaps, but the real problem is that the service just isn’t attracting younger sailors. I suppose the Facebook generation just don’t want to be cut off for so long.”