Sailor shortage keeps submarines in dock
( dpa ) - Sailors leaving for high-paying jobs in Australia's booming mining sector mean only three of the Navy's six submarines can put to sea at any one time.
"It's becoming a ghost fleet," The Australian newspaper on Monday quoted one officer as saying. "We're losing our crews. It feels like the Mary Celeste."
More than a third of submariner positions are unfilled and the shortage is likely to get worse as mining companies step up efforts to lure technicians away.
"The Navy is suffering the biggest challenge given the strength of the mining industry," Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon admitted. "We know that mining companies hover around HMAS Stirling (naval base) looking to recruit our naval personnel."
The unemployment rate in Australia is at 4 per cent, the lowest since the 1970s.