- HMNB Clyde
HMNB Devonportand HMNB Portsmouth, Her Majesty's Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde is one of the Royal Navy's three operational bases. It is the service's headquarters in Scotlandand is best known as the home of the United Kingdom's Trident-armed nuclear submarineforce.
HMNB Clyde lies on the eastern shore of
Gare Lochin Argyll and Bute, Scotland, to the north of the Firth of Clydeand 25 miles west of the city of Glasgow. The submarine baseencompasses a number of separate sites, the primary two being:
*Faslane, 25 miles from
*RNAD Coulport, beside
Loch Long, 8 miles west of Faslane.
Faslane is also a
Defence Equipment and Supportsite, operated in dual site organisation with Great Harbour, Greenock, by Serco Denholm. [ [http://www.serco.com/media/pressreleases/2002/014_2002.asp Marine Services Planning Agreement] ]
In 2006, the Ministry of Defence announced that a review would be undertaken to examine the future of the three naval bases. The Naval Base Review sought to examine the long-term future needs of the
Royal Navy: the most likely outcomes were either to retain the three current naval bases, but with reduced capacity in each, or to close one of the two bases on the south coast of England. The review, released in 2007, stipulated no base closures.
HMNB Clyde is home to the
United Kingdom's strategic nuclear deterrent.
Faslane Naval Base
Faslane Naval Base, situated on the
Gare Loch, and the RN Armaments Depot Coulport on Loch Long, are the primary components of HM Naval Base Clyde. The Naval shore establishment at Faslane is HMS "Neptune", Naval personnel appointed to the base who do not belong to a sea-going vessel make up Ship's Company. Both the Gareloch and Loch Long are sea lochs extending northwards from the Firth of Clyde. The base serves as home base to the United Kingdom's fleet of Vanguard-class nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed submarines, as well as conventionally-armed nuclear powered submarines, supported by the Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines. In charge of HMNB Clyde is the Naval Base Commander (Clyde), which has just been handed over from Commodore Carolyn J Stait OBE ADC Royal Navy to a new incumbent, Commodore C J Hockley. The base is home to a number of lodger units including Flag OfficerScotland, Northern England and Northern Ireland (FOSNNI) (who is also Flag Officer Reserves (FORes)), the Northern Diving Group and the Scottish Headquarters of the Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency. It is base to 3,000 service personnel, 800 of their families and 4,000 civilian workers, forming a major part of the economy of Argyll and Buteand West Dunbartonshire.
Faslane was first constructed and used as a base in
World War II. During the 1960s, the United Kingdombegan negotiating the Polaris Sales Agreementwith the United Statesregarding the purchase of a Polaris missilesystem to fire UK-built Nuclear weapons from five specially constructed submarines. In the end, only four were constructed; "Resolution", "Repulse", "Renown" and "Revenge". These four submarines were permanently based at Faslane. Faslane itself was chosen as the base at the height of the Cold War, due to its geographic position, which formed a Bastion, on the relatively secluded but deep and easily navigable Gare Lochand Firth of Clydeon the west coast of Scotland, which provided for rapid and stealthy access through the North Channel to the submarine patrolling areas in the North Atlantic, through the GIUK gapto the Norwegian Sea. One boat was always on patrol at any given time. In times of political instability, sometimes two boats would be deployed at sea.
"Vanguard" class SSBNs
In the 1980s, the
British Governmentannounced plans to replace the Polaris submarines with the newly developed Trident missilesystem, also to be based at Faslane. These submarines were named:
"Swiftsure" class SSNs
Faslane is also home to the
Swiftsure classof fleet submarines (S). The Swiftsure class is the older of the two fleet submarines of the Royal Navy and is due to be replaced by the Astute class submarines.
* HMS "Sovereign" recently decommissioned
* HMS "Superb" recently decommissioned
* HMS "Sceptre"
* HMS "Spartan" recently decommissioned
The Royal Navy has announced that the "Astute"-class SSN will also be based at Faslane. Also based there are the
Mine countermeasure vessels of the 1st MCM Squadron. The patrol vessels of the Northern Ireland Squadronwere based at Faslane from 1993 until the squadron was decommissioned in July 2005.
Given the presence of these nuclear capable missiles, Faslane has attracted demonstrations by
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmamentand other Scottish pressure groups, including Trident Ploughshares. A permanent peace camp is outside the base gates, and there are frequent demonstrations at the base gates. The presence of Faslane is also an issue in Scottish politics. The Scottish National Party, the Scottish Socialist Partyand the Scottish Green Partyall oppose the deployment of nuclear weapons, although the Scottish National Partyhave made assurances that they would retain the base for the servicing of conventionally-armed and -powered naval units. It is not unusual for members of these parties, and indeed some from the Labour Party to be present. Also, some independents, such as George Gallowayattend rallies outside Faslane. Such events aim to keep the base closed for as long as possible by preventing its staff from arriving for work, and usually involve large numbers of protesters being arrested for non-violent civil disobedience.
Faslane Peace Camp
Faslane Peace Campis a permanent camp outside the base. It has been occupied continuously since 1982.
The Big Blockade at Faslane Naval Base is an annual event held since 1999 usually in the 2nd week of February, aiming to close the base for 24 hours (although never successfully). The event attracts thousands of peace activists and has on occasion resulted in more than 350 arrests
Faslane 365campaign was a one-year protest at the base for a 365 day period. It was a civil resistance initiative to apply critical public pressure for the disarmament of Britain's nuclear weapons. [ [http://www.faslane365.org Faslane365] accessed 1 October 2007]
The campaign was launched in September 2006 with the first protest action commencing on 1 October 2006 carried out by a campaigning group of women associated with protests at
Greenham Common. It formally ended with a Big Blockade on 1 October 2007. However, groups are continuing to take direct action at both Faslane and Coulport.
131 blockading groups took part in Faslane 365 and 1150 arrests were made.Fact|date=October 2007 [ [http://www.faslane365.org Faslane365] accessed 3 October 2007]
Royal Naval Armaments Depot(RNAD) at Coulport, Loch Longis the other major part of HMNB Clyde. RNAD Coulport stores conventional armaments for Royal Navy vessels but is best known for its role in the Trident missile system.
Nuclear weapon storage bunkers have been excavated from a ridge. From here British-designed and built nuclear warheads can be fitted to the Trident missiles (built by
Lockheed Martin). Whilst the warheads themselves are British-owned and built, the delivery system is not actually owned by the United Kingdom and instead it has ownership rights to some 58 missiles from a "pool" shared with the U.S. Navy, this is a necessary capability. Whole missiles can be lifted out of or into a submarine, however the missiles are normally serviced at the U.S. Navy facility at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bayin Georgia.
Initial construction took place between 1963, when Faslane was chosen as the new Polaris base, and 1968, when the first Polaris boat began its patrol. Safety considerations required that the armament maintenance and storage facility have its own berth and be at least 4,400 feet from the main facility, whilst operational considerations dictated that the two facilities should be within an hour's sailing time. Coulport, on the opposite peninsula, met both of these requirements. [ [http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/npr/vol09/91/91walk.pdf "The United Kingdom, Nuclear Weapons, and the Scottish Question"] , Malcom Chalmers, William Walker] Additional construction took place during the 1980s to support the Trident missile programme.
Notes and references
* [http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/server/show/nav.3157 HMNB Clyde web page]
* [http://www.subasekb.navy.mil/TRIDENT%20REFIT%20FACILITY/MISSION.htm King's Bay Trident Refit Facility]
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