Navy chief orders base ‘HMS Collingrad’ living quarters to be closed after sailors complained of crumbling buildings, broken showers and maggot-infested fridges
- Vice Admiral Martin Connell announces closure of woeful block at Fareham base
- The squalid site was blasted by sailors for its ‘absolutely horrendous’ conditions
Woeful living quarters at a Royal Navy base dubbed ‘HMS Collingrad’ are to be axed after furious sailors shared images of the ‘absolutely horrendous’ conditions of their crumbling, maggot-infested accommodation.
Vice Admiral Martin Connell, the Second Sea Lord, announced he was closing Vivian Block after military personnel compared the squalid state of HMS Collingwood to Stalingrad, the Russian city reduced to ruins during the Second World War.
The top navy chief – who is in charge of the welfare of the Senior Service’s 39,410 personnel – admitted it was ‘clear’ more needed to be done to give sailors ‘the accommodation they deserve’.
His comments come weeks after sailors at the training base in Fareham, Hampshire, broke ranks to share pictures of the shocking conditions of the site, which had been damaged by flooding and left without hot water or heating over the winter.
The pictures showed servicemen crammed together in small cabins, sleeping on camp beds, while other images revealed crumbling walls and broken showers. Sailors even complained their fridges were ‘infested with maggots’.
The state of disrepair in HMS Collingwood over the last 12 months has been revealed by ‘fed-up’ sailors who shared images on social media – with the Navy’s Second Sea Lord last now revealing that the Vivian block (pictured) would be closed
HMS Collingwood in Fareham, Hampshire, has been blighted by flooding – proving to be the last straw for many sailors unhappy with its living conditions
Taking to Twitter last night amid mounting pressure to act, Vice Adm Connell wrote: ‘Last week I visited HMS Collingwood to see the state of accommodation for myself. Despite recent efforts, I’ve made the decision to close Vivian Block & everyone affected will be relocated. It’s clear we need to do more to give our sailors the accommodation they deserve & expect’
CLICK HERE: Inside the squalid block of navy base dubbed ‘HMS Collingrad’ by sailors
Sailors at Collingwood say that as well as silverfish and maggots living on fridge freezers, they have to deal with broken showers and radiators, blocked and overflowing toilets, and fire alarms that sound continuously late at night.
Several personnel blasted the Navy’s maintenance systems and are demanding urgent changes, with one sailor saying: ‘The state of the accommodation is ridiculous. We have reported it formally – and we have been told to get on with it. I know for a fact there’s multiple complaints every week.
‘[Sailors] have all been put in overcrowded rooms, rooms for two have had six or seven people in. Some in mixed blocks. The worst I have seen would be maggots and other insects living on a fridge door.
‘We’re all just fed up. People are wanting to hand their chit in (quit) and get gone if they are able to.’
Gosport MP Dame Caroline Dinenage – whose constituency covers Collingwood, says she had been inundated with complaints from sailors and their families over the shoddy condition of the base.
Speaking of the Second Sea Lord’s announcement, she told MailOnline: ‘I’m relieved that this is finally being taken seriously.
‘If we keep asking armed forces personnel to step up and fill in for other public services we must show them the respect and care they deserve.’
Pictures show sailors living in cramped conditions in cabins away from the flooded area
Sailors say they have had to deal with broken showers and radiators, blocked and overflowing toilets, and fire alarms that sound continuously late at night
Military personnel have slammed the ‘absolutely horrendous’ conditions plaguing HMS Collingwood, comparing it to Stalingrad, the Russian city reduced to ruins during the Second World War
And a naval source told MailOnline: ‘We invest considerable time and money in ensuring our training continues to deliver a world-beating navy.
‘It is heartening that decisions are now being taken to ensure shortcomings in support elements within these facilities are being made, ensuring that the Royal Navy continues to attract the best and retain its highly trained and adaptable team.’
But questions have been raised over how long it has taken military top brass to act.
Vivian Block was closed in May 2022 amid safety concerns over a fault fire alarm. This caused several promotion courses to be cancelled in a move that retired Vice Admiral Bob Cooling branded ‘outrageous’ and ‘dreadful’.
Following Vice Adm Connell’s announcement last night, other people took to social media to share their experiences of Collingwood’s living quarters, with some claiming the block had been in a state of disrepair ‘for years’.
One person said: ‘I stayed in Vivian two years ago. There was fencing around the perimeter due to the risk of bits of the building falling off.
‘These accommodation issues have been known about for years, it’s only being acted upon because it made the media. Same with the heating upgrades in ’17.’
Another person added: ‘Retention and recruitment is at its worst in decades and you can’t even look after what you have? Heads need to roll.’
Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Martin Connell announced he was closing Vivian block last night amid mounting pressure to act over the living quarters’ squalid conditions
Luke Pollard, Labour’s shadow armed forces minister, said action had been desperately needed for years.
‘The Conservatives are failing service personnel, who are forced to live in horrendous conditions while serving our country,’ he said.
‘Long-overdue action to move personnel out of the shocking accommodation at HMS Collingwood is welcome, but it’s crystal clear ministers need to improve standards across the entire defence estate.
‘Poor service housing hits morale and encourages more of our service personnel to leave. If ministers continue to ignore this problem – as they have done for over a decade – then they will continue to drive more people out of the military.’
The Ministry of Defence said it is pumping £1.6bn into new barrack and base accommodation over the next decade.
Speaking last month, a Royal Navy spokeswoman said the force was ‘aware of the current issues being experience at HMS Collingwood’.
The spokeswoman said: ‘The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has confirmed that they are working with contractors to fix the issues as quickly as possible.
‘Personnel across the site are being given regular updates.’
She added most personnel were moved to bunks in cabins or camp beds in messdecks – recreation and dining areas – during the recent flooding.
She said: ‘The recent flooding at HMS Collingwood was caused by excessive rain and not infrastructure or maintenance issues on site.
‘During this time a number of our recruits were moved as a precaution; but have since returned to their accommodation which was unaffected, all within 24 hours.
‘There was no impact on training and the safety and care of our personnel was our main concern throughout.’
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