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Thieves Steal $325,000 Worth of Diesel From Royal Navy's Main Base

Royal Navy
Bulwark in drydock at HMNB Devonport, 2010 (file image courtesy Royal Navy)

Published Apr 7, 2022 5:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

Thieves have made off with about $325,000 worth of diesel from the Royal Navy's main base in Plymouth, England, the UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed. 

The theft occurred last year at Her Majesty's Naval Base Devonport, the largest naval base in Western Europe and the only nuclear-repair facility for the Royal Navy. In a daring heist, thieves siphoned off fuel intended for the amphib HMS Bulwark, which is drydocked at the base for repairs. Civilian security guards at the base noticed a fuel tanker truck moving suspiciously and stopped it for an inspection, discovering stolen diesel on board. 

The fuel grade is also acceptable for over-the-road vehicles and is believed to have been sold on the black market. Officials believe that the theft may have gone on for weeks before it was discovered, raising questions about base security. 

Bulwark is an amphibious warfare ship and is a vital part of Britain's defence," a Royal Navy source told The Sun. "The fact that she was left vulnerable and exposed like this is simply a travesty and [the contractor] has questions to answer.”

In a statement to media, the UK Ministry of Defense acknowledged the incident, saying only that "there was no disruption to Defence operations and the MOD has no further comment.”

The Royal Navy isn't the only service with thievery probems at its main base. Last year, burglars accessed the patrol ship LE Eithne at Haulbowline Naval Base, the Irish Naval Service's headquarters. The base is on an island in Cork's harbor, and the thieves managed to reach the site, steal personal items from the moored vessel and depart again undetected. The goods included clothing, whiskey, medals, and other small items. No major harm was done - the ship has been inactive for years - but it raised significant questions about security. The circumstances are under investigation by the service's military police.