USS Alaska arrived at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde near Glasgow this week.
The US Navy say that the port visit ‘strengthens cooperation between the United States and United Kingdom’, and ‘demonstrates US capability, flexibility, and continuing commitment to NATO allies’.
USS Alaska, home ported at Submarine Group Ten on Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, is an Ohio class ballistic missile submarine.
The Ohio class is a class of nuclear powered submarines used by the United States Navy. The navy has 18 Ohio-class submarines, 14 ballistic missile submarines and four that were later converted to guided missile submarines.
The submarine is now berthed at HMNB Clyde. The base is sited at Faslane in the west of Scotland not far from Glasgow, one of Britain’s largest cities.
It’s one of three operating bases in the United Kingdom for the Royal Navy, the others being HMNB Devonport and HMNB Portsmouth. It is best known as the home of Britain’s nuclear weapons, in the form of nuclear submarines armed with Trident missiles.
Faslane was first constructed and used as a base in World War II. During the 1960s, the British Government began negotiating the Polaris Sales Agreement with the United States regarding the purchase of a Polaris missile system to fire British-built nuclear weapons from five specially constructed submarines. In the end, only four were constructed; HMS Resolution, HMS Repulse, HMS Renown and HMS Revenge. These four submarines were permanently based at Faslane.
Faslane itself was chosen to host these vessels at the height of the Cold War because of its geographic position, which forms a bastion on the relatively secluded but deep and easily navigable Gare Loch and Firth of Clyde on the west coast of Scotland. This position provides for rapid and stealthy access through the North Channel to the submarine patrolling areas in the North Atlantic.