NEARLY 40 Royal Navy personnel were drafted in to Basingstoke yesterday to help protect a vital electricity substation.

The substation, in Worting Road, owned by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), has been swamped by groundwater since heavy rain hit the borough last week.

Staff from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council delivered sandbags for the army to put down to protect the substation, which is surrounded by a barbed-wire fence.

A total of 35 personnel from HMS Collingwood, who are currently stationed at Worthy Down, near Winchester, helped in the effort.

They were directed by two sergeants from the Royal Engineers.

Duncan MacDonald, spokesman for SSE, told The Gazette: “These sandbags have been here for a few days but the water has been rising. We wanted to make it safe in case the water does rise and until it eventually goes down again.”

He added: “The substation is still protected and we are bringing in more sandbags to make sure it is protected. We have been monitoring the substation once a day to make sure the equipment is protected.

“This part of the network is essential, if there is a power cut, we can rely on this station and when there is a power cut we can reroute our customers in other parts of the network.”