THE navy has been forced to offer an unprecedented $80,000 bonus to engineers on its submarines and Anzac-class frigates to stop them being poached by cashed-up mining companies.
The move will lead to some non-officer submariners being paid up to $177,000 a year, almost as much as an experienced submarine commander, in a move the navy privately concedes could cause tension in the ranks.
The bonuses of between $40,000 and $80,000 will be paid over two years to 200 selected non-officer marine technicians "who possess key operator qualifications" in return for two years' service. The Australian understands the drastic step was taken after the navy concluded the shortage of qualified engineers was so grave it threatened the ability to put some submarines and Anzac-class frigates to sea.
A Department of Defence spokesperson said the bonus, announced internally to navy personnel this week, was aimed at easing "critical" workforce issues.