Service crew

Naval service in hot water following critical shortage of ‘Gordon Ramsays’

The naval service is severely understaffed and has been unable to fill a growing number of vacancies, despite a two-year recruiting campaign aimed at attracting professionals from the private sector.

Currently, the Navy has 16 chiefs less than needed and that number will soon drop to 18 as two more have signaled their intention to leave the service.

This puts additional pressure on those left behind to feed the sailors and fears have been expressed that it will become even more difficult to fill these positions due to a shortage of chefs in the private sector across the country.

Despite the two-year campaign for so-called “direct-entry” recruiting, the naval service has not been able to bring in a single leader from the private sector.

Setting up “field kitchens” can be tricky for soldiers, but the job can sometimes be much more difficult for naval chefs when ships are on patrol and they have to cook for the crew in gale force conditions.

Mark Keane, chairman of PDForra, which represents naval service enlisted personnel, said more needs to be done to attract people to a career as a chef at sea, especially in terms of increased pay as they have to compete with the private sector.

“Currently, there is a chronic shortage of qualified leaders within the Naval Service. There has been an exodus of chefs leaving over the past few years, months and weeks. We have lost highly skilled and motivated staff to the private sector,” Mr Keane said.

“Unfortunately, a life on the high seas does not seem like an attractive proposition for budding young Gordon Ramsays,” Mr Keane said.

Many naval commanders and other highly skilled Defense Force personnel are “head-hunted” by private companies for their skills.

Mr Keane said that in the case of naval service chefs, many have taken third-level courses in food science and the like.

“This makes them very attractive to potential employers. Naturally, this puts greater pressure on our members to fill vacancies, which has resulted in an increased workload and increased frequency of time spent away from home on patrol at sea,” a- he declared.

Mr Keane, who works as a chef in the naval service, said the defense forces also had difficulty recruiting trained leaders.

He said a review should be undertaken to see how they can make working in the naval service more attractive.