Independence would see thousands of jobs lost at Faslane according to a briefing paper issued by the defence company Babcock.
It is being reported that Babcock management met representatives of various unions including Prospect, Unite and PCR to discuss the SNP’s plans to get rid of the conventionally armed submarine fleet and Trident, itself hosted on four Vanguard class submarines.
Faslane itself was chosen as the base 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, through the GIUK gap to 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. According to the briefing,
“it is unclear whether there would be a continuing role for Babcock should the submarine flotilla be moved and the nuclear infrastructure decommissioned”
Its annual report said risks included a long-term reduction in revenues from the Clyde and the inability to win Royal Navy contracts for its Rosyth dockyard if Scotland were to leave the union.
It also says that Faslane does not have the docking capacity for many naval vessels proposed by the SNP and suggests that the Coulport armaments depot could close.
The Unite union convenor on the Clyde, Derek Torrie said: “Those of us working at Faslane & Coulport are in no doubt that the security of our jobs is best served by remaining in the United Kingdom.
“Any other outcome is a threat to our future employment”
Babcock reportedly said the SNP’s plans to convert Faslane into the home of a separate Scottish navy would result in job losses. It said: “It is unlikely that Clyde as a conventional base would require the same numbers of support personnel, particularly when the number of naval personnel will reduce significantly”. But a spokesman for the Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon defended the SNP’s plans. He said:
“Independence will protect jobs at Faslane as it will begin the transition to become Scotland’s main naval base and also joint force headquarters. We anticipate the same number of military personnel as now as well as a large number of civilian jobs.”
Industry is still unclear on how this can be the case however, given the SNP’s defence proposals.