The British Royal Navy is increasingly being forced to “cannibalize” its own warships and submarines for spare parts as funding has been cut for stores, a Government spending watchdog has said.
Instances of ships being stripped of parts so they can be fitted to other vessels more in need have risen by half in the past five years.
The National Audit Office (NAO) investigation was published as a former First Sea Lord said it was further evidence the Armed Forces were being hollowed out by years of cuts.
One retired officer said there was an epidemic of cannibalization, and the demands of constantly juggling parts between vessels was badly undermining morale among Naval engineers.
The NAO warns that the practice is officially considered a last resort, but has risen by 49 per cent since 2012, with engineers having to strip parts from other equipment nearly 800 times last year.