The Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces has said while the military is facing "challenges", he does not accept there is a crisis in the Defence Forces.

Vice Admiral Mark Mellet said resolving the issue of pay for soldiers, sailors and air corps personnel is his number one priority.

Speaking at the PDFORRA annual conference in Co Mayo, he also said safety is not being compromised by staff shortages or early departures.

Soldiers, sailors and air corps personnel have been outlining a myriad of problems faced by the Defence Forces - from inadequate pay to insufficient staffing levels - at the conference.

Association President Mark Keane said 66 sailors are now living on ships because they cannot afford high rents and have nowhere else to live.

He also said the Naval Service has only seven crews for eight ships and there is a shortage of key personnel, specifically electricians, engine mechanics, medics and chefs.

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Vice Admiral Mellet said he accepts that people feel little is being done to address these issues but he moved to reassure the members that he has taken every opportunity to speak up for them.

He said Defence Forces personnel are the lowest paid in the public service and said he has already made a written case to the Public Service Pay Commission but wants to make a verbal submission.

However, he said companies are recruiting highly skilled Defence Forces staff,  which are being lost to the commercial sector in a buoyant economy.

As a naval officer, Vice Admiral Mellet said it is acceptable for people to live on ships, as they are a home to sailors.

He also said it is not unusual for reservists to be deployed in the Naval Service but there is no question of any safety issue and ships do not put to sea unless it is safe to do so.

He also said he understands the concerns of personnel and their families.