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A US Navy Virginia class attack submarine has visited Faslane today in a routine stop-off.

The submarine arrived at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde in Scotland, United Kingdom earlier today.

The visit, common between the US and UK, has been described as routine. Only recently the USS New Mexico visited the base which is home to the United Kingdoms nuclear missile and hunter killer submarine fleets.

The base is situated 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 for the duration of their service.

The base is now host to a variety of nuclear submarines and conventional surface vessels, notably minehunters.

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.

9 COMMENTS

  1. Thank god for that the USN has taken over the role of keeping the uk waters and approaches safe. Lack of RN attack subs only 6 in service now.
    terrible situation.

    • Well, admittedly 6 in service but actually 7 in the water. Not that I’m claiming for one second that 7 is enough, more Astutes would be pretty much at the top of my wish list for the RN, but RN sub number 7 (Audacious) is in the water. In fact I wonder whether the USN attack sub’s presence here might be anything to do with helping Audacious’s commissioning by playing sparring partner on her sonar and other tests, something that would benefit USN crew training as well as being invaluable for Audacious testing.

      • Finding the funding for these quite capable subs for your Navy can be difficult. (retired US Navy Sonar Technician- Surface here) Yes, Julian our 2 Navies exercise against each other on a regular basis. I can tell you from experience the Astutes are VERY good subs. Mighty quiet and stealthy and quite difficult to find let alone track. I would hazard a guess that there will be a few more built since they make excellent escorts for your new carriers which look quite awesome in their own right. The US Navy regularly sends an attack boat out with a Carrier Strike Group.

  2. In recent sub vs sub exercises Astute defeated 2 Virginia class subs with ease. USN was reported to be amazed at the detection range of astute sonar and astutes stealth.
    these are world class subs.
    just need May, Fallon and spreadsheet Phill to purchase a couple more.
    if we sped up the lethargic build rate on astute class from 1 sub every 2 years to 1 a year we could shoehorn into Barrow yard an 8th possibly 9 th astute before the dreadnought programme gets underway.

  3. I’d like to see a cut down Trident. One that weighs 10 tons, does just 4,000 km with just 4 warheads. In otherwords, one that is good enough instead of a huge 60 ton missile that is far more capable than we actually use it for. Then 8 of them could fit in an Astute with VLS tubes and we would save £40bn on the Successor class.

    How much it would cost I don’t know, but even if the missiles and 5 more Astutes were all of that £40bn (unlikely I think) it would result in us having a missile that would be easier to house in England (Lake District or Devon) when we eventually have to move out of Scotland. It would also mean we would have two varients of one sub instead of two totally different sized subs altogether and a better production program, perhaps even 16 of them built in 18 months each for 24 years of life.

    • I had similar but somewhat different thoughts. I think the plan for Sucessor is for 12 Trident tubes in each instead of the current 16 in Vanguard and those tubes will be the joint US-UK common missile compartment that comes in 4-packs. I was wondering how much it would reduce costs to have Successor only have a single 4-pack CMC (presumably a smaller pressure hull helps reduce costs) and whether that could be the basis of a single class to perform both CASD and SSN roles (any given sub only doing one role on any given mission of course depending on what missiles were loaded). CMC can also carry TLAM, it’s not announced how many but pretty certainly a minimum of 6 per tube and maybe as many as 12 so that would give a sub on an SSN tasking the ability to carry at least 24 and maybe as many as 48 cruise missiles plus the regular torpedoe load. Build as many as possible (presumably more than 4) with the current Successor budget and then run on the production line to build more as Astute next generation replacements. A single class would also help with fewer needing to be taken out for training and more efficient refit cycles so overall fleet availability should be improved as well. It also gives to opportunity to dynamically change the split between SSBN and SSN tasking depending on tension levels. Only 1 active on SSBN patrol but possible to surge to maybe 3 if tensions got high.

  4. I guess that’s why they signed that cooperation deal a few months back.

    Uncle Sam patrolling the increasingly feeble UK’s waters.

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