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Scottish independence

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  • relatively speaking, a conventional ship won't have much in the way of explosive things. Even if an entire ship went bang it's unlikely to do more than just damage the dock yard and break a shed load of windows. a 100Ktn warhead going off would wipe out everything in a 5km radiius. neither of these is going to happen though.

    From what I gather, the concern isn't so much where to relocate the subs, they can go pretty much anywhere there's a navy base and Devonport did have a submarine base, it is more a case of where to put RNAD Coulport, where the weapons are loaded and unloaded as the subs come in or out of harbour.





  • But there will be an on-base store which I would imagine would hold in the order of 10's of tonnes of munitions, propellants, etc.

    A case in point on the power of this was the explosion in a warehouse in Beirut last year. This was only fertiliser, not powerful modern explosives. There was a lot of it (2750 tonnes) though.

    When this exploded the explosions was equivalent to about a 1Kton of TNT. This caused a 125m crater with damage recorded in houses 10Km away.

    So Plymouth is currently living with fairly substantial risks already from Devonport.





  • It's kept at RNAD Ernesettle on the edge of the city. but, it isn't just one big warehouse, it is lots of smaller underground bunkers, solely so that the whole lot can't go up in one go.

    RNAD Ernesettle

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Ernesettle,+Plymouth,+UK/@50.4145565,-4.1926862,1026m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x486c9294a2882c0b:0xe684be2ff3990ac6!8m2!3d50.4198942!4d-4.1795407

    RNAD Coulport

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/Coulport,+Helensburgh+G84+0PD,+UK/@56.0564422,-4.8445025,5690m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x4889a63937fd8f8f:0xa0c681c77df32f0!8m2!3d56.045251!4d-4.869738

    I think what is most likely though, is that the submarines will be based out of Plymouth and Trident kept somewhere towards Falmouth





  • I didn't mean to derail the topic with highly technical treatments of nuclear submarines, my point is that the prospect of Independence has become a very real and practical concern at official level in Whitehall, even in Boris has his head in the sand about it.





  • The history of the highly technical bits is that when US subs first operated from Scotland they were serviced by a ship. No port is required.

    On the other hand the Irish treaty ports are the precedent for having Royal Navy ports in an independent country that left the UK. And I'm 110% behind Lord Buckethead's policy on UK nuclear subs.


    The other chestnuts are Scotland not joining the EU and having the Euro on day one ? Scotlands main trading partner is England so joining the EFTA would gain a lot of EU type benefits without affecting the economy. And if Scotland didn't get the pound grandfathered in then they could do like Sweden and delay joining the Euro for as long as they want. Free Travel Area is grandfathered in unless the UK forces Ireland into Schengen and that's unlikely. While the devil is in the details most of the issues of Scottish Independence were sorted out when Ireland left.

    In other news Scottish Whisky and Salmon exports have gone up by 20 and 27% while the rest of the UK's food exports have fallen, small growth in non-EU markets completely eclipsed by a collapse in exports to the EU.



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  • This doesn't help; quite the opposite. Glasgow is 65km south-east of Faslane.





  • I think it would make more sense for Scotland as an independent state to rejoin the EU. Having Ireland in the EU and Scotland outside would obviously limit how close our ties could be because we would have to comply with EU law on issues like trade and freedom of movement.





  • One of the main attractions of independence for Scotland would be precisely to rejoin the EU. But they would want to do so on terms that made some allowance for their very close economic relationship with rump-UK.

    This would be a moving target, though. Even assuming a successful indyref, as with Brexit some years would elapse between the referendum and actual Scottish independence, and some more years would elapse between that and Scottish accession to the EU. And over that period of time there would almost certainly be changes of government in rump-UK, and very probably changes of rump-UK policy towards the EU, most likely in favour of closer alignment, which would make the Scottish dilemma less acute, and the negotiation of terms to square the circle of Scotland's relationships with the Union and with rump-UK a little bit easier.





  • The planning for moving Faslane has been underway since 2014, it isn’t new.



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  • This. It stands to reason that the Dept of Defence would do contingency planning for the defence implications of Scottish independence. This doesn't tell us anything about how likely Scottish independence is, beyond that it's a sufficiently realistic possibility to require a bit of contingency planning.

    The UK, famously, did no contingency planning at all for the event that the Brexit referendum might be carried; the government of the day considered it defeatist even to contemplate the possibility, and the leaders of the Brexit movement didn't consider that it was their business to do so. That didn't work out well for the UK, obviously. If only because of that experience, I'm fairly sure they won't make the same mistake with respect to the possibility of Scottish independence, and it will not just be Defence who are thinking about how this might affect them. But planning for an independent Scotland doesn't mean that you expect an independent Scotland.





  • Not according to bob.

    But, seriously, it would be insane to make decisions about the location of a nuclear facility on the assumption that in the event of a radiation release the wind will always be blowing in the most usual direction. At any given time, it could be blowing in any given direction, and planning and decisions need to take account of this.





  • It isn’t just about wind direction, if 120 warheads go boom half of Europe will experience the fall out.

    there seems to be a feeling that Faslane was chosen because….”**** the Scots” but the truth is it was selected because strategically, tactically and operationally, it was the best choice. Base and maintain the subs in Faslane, load weapons at Coulport on the way past and then you’re more or less out in the North Atlantic. The lochs are deep enough that a sub can sneak in and out relatively undetected and quiet enough that they aren’t going to bump in to an oil tanker. Add in the handy sop to the Scots of providing jobs, like they did when they moved all ship building up there and it was the ideal location

    it will be interesting to see what happens if Scotland does go it alone. If the SNP don’t need as much Green support then the pressure to remove nukes might not be as focused as it was when they were dependent on them.





  • What we can say, though, is that proximity to a large centre of population is clearly not a consideration that rules out a possible base for Trident so, if the UK does find itself relocating Trident, proximity to large centres of population won't rule out any site that they might be considering.

    Will they move Trident? Well, obviously, a lot of things would have to happen before that even becomes an issue, but let's suppose that Scotland is going to become independent. Even if not reliant on the Greens at that stage, the SNP itself is not keen on nuclear armament; their 2014 proposals included removal of Trident, so I'd guess that would be their opening position even if the Greens weren't pressing for it.

    But these things can be fudged; moving Trident would be project that would take years, and I doubt that the SNP would demand instant removal. So negotiations could go anywhere from a commitment in principle to eventual removal with no specified timeframe, to a detailed treaty provision specifying a removal process and timeframe, and arrangements for what would happen until them. And it would all be in the mix as part of larger negotiations. This isn't a simple binary.

    But we are focussing on the question of whether the Scots would want them removed. There's also the issue of whether the UK would. Would they want their entire nuclear capacity to be permanently located in foreign territory (or, even if the Scots were willing, in an enclave within foreign territory)? No other nuclear power seems to think that wise; would the UK? What would their attitude be if the Scots demanded joint control, or a veto over use, or an agreed policy on use, as a quid pro quo for hosting the facility? Simple self-respect would prevent the Scots from licensing the UK to locate its nuclear offensive capacity in Scotland and deploy it from there as it wished, without any regard to the implications for Scotland, so there will certainly be some ask about this. Even if Faslane is physically the optimal location, if it comes with baggage of this kind the UK might feel that it's not the overall optimal location.





  • This discussion about Faslane is a sub-argument about the whole question of the nuclear deterrent. The Trident is expensive, is controlled by the USA and could only be used with their agreement. So what is the benefit to the UK?

    Now, I have always considered suspect the motive and rational of RAF pilots who flew the nuclear bomb armed V bombers that used to be the UK deterrent in the 1960s and later. Who would agree to pilot a plane on a mission taking off from a UK airfield armed with deadly nuclear bombs and head off towards Moscow with the intention of detonating those bombs over a highly populated city with the avowed intention of destroying that city along with the population? That pilot would also be aware of the MAD doctrine (Mutual Assured Destruction) which would mean that his own homeland would also suffer annihilation and the pilot would have nowhere to go home to, so why would he be part of that action?

    The Russian forces were able to take over and annex the Crimea without a shot fired in anger. There is a thought. How did the nuclear deterrent help with that particular action?

    Scotland should want independence for its own sake, not because they would get a small economic advantage, or it would create some extra jobs in one sector or area while losing others in another sector. An independent Scotland will have many bumps in the road before attaining those same sunny uplands populated by unicorns as promised by Brexit.





  • it depends on what you consider proximity. As I pointed out, Devonport is in the middle of a city, not 45 Km north west of one. We are more or less discussing why, if something is based in Brittas, can it not be relocated to Limerick Docks?

    If Scotland go it alone, Trident will move eventually, that is a given. as will Royal Navy shipbuilding.. Not only is it in the best interests of national security, it is also politically unacceptable to have such operations in a foreign country.

    The SNP may choose to replace these and obviously there will need to be an agreement on what forces transfer if Scotland is to remain in NATO, which then begs the question, will Scotland continue to host UK troops as part of its NATO alliance or what happens to those soldiers in Scottish regiments that want to remain in the British Army, presuming those regiments do indeed form the Scottish Army.

    I'm sure the SNP have this all planned though.





  • can you provide something to support your claim that the US controls Trident and can only be used with their agreement?





  • No of course I cannot.

    Trident is top top secret and all matters regarding Trident are very closely guarded and for all anyone knows, there may not be any nuclear warheads at all - a bit like holding someone up with an empty gun - will they take the risk if you look as if you will shoot them?

    Trident is a USA weapon, supplied by the USA, and spares and other requirements are also supplied by the USA. It follows, the USA has some call on the use of Trident, and it is highly improbable that the UK could use it without some level of consent from the USA.

    Remember the UK is one of the 'Five Eyes' spying network, so all UK intelligence is shared with the USA, but not necessarily a two way street.





  • There were proposals on this in the 2014 Scottish White Paper though, obviously, what would actually happen would have to be agreed with the UK government when the time came.

    The highlights of the proposal were:

    • Withdrawal of nuclear forces from Scotland, and a constitutional ban on location of nuclear weapons in Scotland.
    • Scotland to have defence forces of 15,000 full-time personnel, plus 5,000 reservists, and a defence and security budget of £2.5 billion (at 2013 values). (This would imply a significant build-up from the level of forces currently based in Scotland. Target to do this in ten years.)
    • Focus on air and maritime capabilities and specialist coastal forces
    • Joint defence headquarters and conventional naval base to be located at Faslane.
    • Joint procurement projects with the UK.
    • Scotland would aim to be a NATO member right from independence.
    • Units of the Scottish army would carry the names of traditional Scottish regiments. This might be by transfer of existing Scottish regiments from the UK forces or, in the case of already-supressed regiments, by reviving their names. Negotiated arrangements for Scottish people serving in the UK forces to transfer to the Scots forces, if they wish, and vice versa if personnel serving in units transferred to Scotland wish to remain in the UK forces.




  • Oh, you seemed to make a statement as if it were fact.

    the weapon isn’t American, the missile is. The warheads and submarines are very much made in the UK.

    The development of the delivery system was part funded by the UK and they are on a kind of managed service from the manufacturer, so after an agreed period of time, each one is swapped out and sent back for servicing.

    Trident was only one option looked at when it was procured and it would make no sense for the UK to go for an option they can’t use, but as you say, it is top secret so no one really knows.



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  • I wish them luck.

    NATO would obviously love to have them join, as the UKIG gap is considered a key strategic area, which is pretty much why Lossiemouth and Faslane are there. They also need to ensure that the disproportionate number of serving Scots are accommodated. I believe the phrase "Don't make me choose between my country and my uniform" were used during the last indy ref.





  • I think they're way ahead of you, Aegir. From the white paper, Scots citizens would be free (so far as the Scots government was concerned) to continue serving in the UK forces or, after independence, to enlist in them. And, conversely, non-Scots would be welcome to serve/enlist in the Scots forces. And, nuclear weapons aside, allied forces (including UK) would be welcome to be based in Scotland, or to come to Scotland for training or other operations.





  • British nuclear deterrent is under the sole control of the British government. Subs and warheads are British built. The missiles come from a shared pool of missiles shared with the US navy from a facility in the US (cost sharing). When missiles are live and in service in British subs (always min of 1 live sub at sea at all times) the British government has full operational control of these missiles with no US involvement. You could argue that US has some control as missile maintenance is in the US territory but the active missile systems at sea are controlled by British government alone. Of course US and British defence cooperation is deeply embedded and will remain so into the foreseeable future.





  • The latest Tory move isn't going down well in Scotland:


    Meanwhile, Keir Starmer has announced Gordon Brown will lead a commision to settle the issue of the Union.





  • Offord headed up the bogus grassroots campaigning group 'Vote No Borders' which were later fined for refusing to publish their accounts. The BBC gave them huge billing on their news services when they started during the last referendum








  • Both the Sottish and UK governments are setting up competing freeports. (something that could have been done while still in the EU)

    "This is a new way in which the Scotland Office is putting a Union flag on priority projects - and that's seen in Holyrood as disrespectful to devolved powers."



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