Federation Navy orders an investigation into missing ships
Algogille: Destaseke Zertavenne, chief of Internal Security for the Federation Navy, has ordered an investigation after a routine audit discovered massive discrepancies.
In a leaked memo, it has been discovered that hundreds of ships, ranging from Comets to Megathrons are either missing or have been stripped of vital parts. Huge dockyards, built initially during the Caldari war, are filled with a surplus of ships that are not maintained. "In the current climate, we simply do not need all those ships, although scrapping them would be uneconomical." Zertavenne explained "The ships are semi-decommissioned, meaning that they are powered down and minimal maintenance is carried out on them, but nevertheless could be turned into fully functional warships at fairly short notice. They form the third tier of our Reserve, and would only be mobilized under extreme circumstances; so while our front line Navy is unaffected, these are still Federal property and a full investigation is nothing more than the public deserves."
These 'Ship Graveyards' are nothing new. Since the end of the Caldari War and a general lowering of tensions with the Amarr, successive Defence Budgets have sought to save money wherever possible. A decline in recruitment for a volunteer Navy has meant that a larger proportion of the purse has been spent on trying to entice more recruits, and perhaps more importantly, the retention of suitably trained personnel. While the lifestyle of the average civilian within the Federation has improved dramatically, the Navy has had to try and keep pace with both wages and standards of living.
Defence analyst Sylvestre Brissoux gives an insight into the issues that the Federation Navy currently have to face; "A volunteer Navy recruits from the citizens. If there is no pressing need to join the military, such as a war, then many young people will not even consider the Navy as a viable career path. Unless the Navy can substantially increase the desirability of a military career, more potential recruits will slip through their fingers. The only way under the current budget to keep pay and conditions in line with the civilian sector is, unfortunately, to mothball these ships."
Given the manning situation, it is perhaps unsurprising that the security of these Ship Graveyards is subcontracted to civilians. Almost three quarters of the manpower at these locations is provided by private firms; many of them immigrant workers. Zertavenne was quick to denounce rumours that this is the reason for these astonishing reports; "There is no question that the security of our shipyards is compromised by the use of civilian security contractors. These firms are fully vetted and monitored, and are far more suited to providing static security than simply using the Navy to patrol the areas. The ships are merely hulks anyway, there is no security risk, and they are not armed. They are no more dangerous than a shuttle."
"What utter rubbish." was the reaction of Jean Hulliere, a retired trader who made his fortune in The Syndicate, "Anyone who has visited a Station in the last twenty years could tell you how easy it is to get a ship fitted out. The fact that the Navy themselves give their most precious hardware to Capsuleers who work for them makes this a preposterous statement. I could buy myself a Navy Megathron without too much trouble these days; as long as I was willing to pay a premium for discretion of course. In fact, one of my old contacts has hinted that some of these ships are being sold on the black market by the very people who are meant to be looking after them, while others are simply being stolen or stripped by criminal gangs. It's the ultimate five-fingered discount, and the taxpayers will be footing the bill."
Certainly, in the words of Zertavenne herself "It is clear that some policies and guidelines are not being followed. My investigation will leave no stone unturned. This is, after all, a matter of Federal Security." It is unknown as yet if the Federal Intelligence Office has become involved, but if the right answers are not found; it surely is only a matter of time.