Member of Parliament for Kilmarnock and Loudoun Alan Brown has incorrectly claimed that there are “no surface warships” in Scotland, that there are “frequent transgressions into Scottish waters” requiring “regular patrols” and that Rosyth is “being scrapped”, none of which is true.
At the time of writing, there are over half a dozen naval vessels and support ships in Scottish waters, including a frigate near Faslane, not to mention a massive naval base and an air base hosting Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
Ferry and frigate. Argyll Flyer and HMS Northumberland passing each other at #Gourock this morning. @CalMacFerries @ShipsOfCalMac @CalMac_Updates @ArgyllFlyer #ferry #frigate @HMSNORT #clyde #inverclyde #scotland @RoyalNavy #shipping #argyll pic.twitter.com/fRQK1hkP3A
— sheila weir (@WeirSheila) November 3, 2020
For those interested in the naval comings and goings on the Clyde then I suggest you check out @WeirSheila on Twitter for more high quality images.
Alan Brown Shadow SNP Spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change said:
“Scottish waters comprise over 60% of the UK’s waters, yet we have no surface warships. In fact, the most northerly surface warship base is located at the south coast of England, which means that scrambling a fleet ready escort takes over 24 hours to reach Scottish waters. Given that there are almost monthly transgressions into Scottish waters and we need regular patrols, why is the Rosyth base being scrapped?”
There are quite a few issues with this, firstly the claim that there are no Royal Navy warships in Scotland.
Alan Brown is no stranger to repeating this claim. Last year, he said:
“If we look at the here and now, the Defence Committee report, ‘On Thin Ice: UK Defence in the Arctic,’ confirms that the UK should focus more on its operability and presence in the Arctic. Right now, there are currently no Royal Navy vessels in Scottish waters and no indication of any resources being applied. Should not the Minister be doing more to protect Scottish waters?”
This wasn’t true then and it isn’t true now. In fact, why not have a look for yourself? Note that some naval vessels may not be visible if they turn off the system that allows for them to show up on this real time map, however many are still visible and on the date of publication there were a number of Royal Navy and RFA vessels in and around Scotland, this can be verified by using historical data from the above source.
Oh and to top it all off, he has claimed that “the Rosyth base being scrapped”… yeah I have no idea where that one comes from either, the site hasn’t been a naval base for decades.
Hi @AlanBrownSNP, just to make you aware that there are currently half a dozen naval vessels sailing in Scottish waters, a massive naval base in Scottish waters plus a Maritime Patrol Aircraft base in the north of Scotland. Rosyth also shut decades ago… pic.twitter.com/jthzVy1AqW
— UK Defence Journal (@UKDefJournal) November 4, 2020
What is actually stationed at HMNB Clyde?
HM Naval Base Clyde – commonly known as Faslane – is the Royal Navy’s main presence in Scotland. It is home to the core of the Submarine Service, including the nuclear armed submarines, the new generation of hunter-killer submarines and a number of other vessels of different types. Here’s a list of what’s based there.
Three Astute class SSNs, with a further 4 to follow.
- HMS Astute
- HMS Ambush
- HMS Artful
Seven Sandown class mine countermeasures vessels
- HMS Penzance
- HMS Pembroke
- HMS Grimsby
- HMS Bangor
- HMS Ramsey
- HMS Blyth
- HMS Shoreham
Three small Archer class patrol vessels belonging to the Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron
- HMS Tracker
- HMS Raider
- HMS Pursuer
Four of what the base is arguably known for, Vanguard class SSBNs.
- HMS Vanguard
- HMS Victorious
- HMS Vigilant
- HMS Vengeance
Do other UK vessels routinely sail in Scottish waters?
There’s a constant year round presence of Royal Navy frigates or Destroyers sailing through, exercising in or patrolling waters around Scotland.
Pictured below is a submarine and frigate engaged in a recent exercise near the Firth of Clyde, which is a common occurrence.
The west of Scotland being largely uninhabited and with Scottish waters being vast, the area presents itself as an ideal exercise ground.
So where does this claim come from?
It appears to originate back in 2014 when Alex Salmond said:
“The navy does not have a single major surface vessel based in Scotland. The largest protection vessels stationed in Scottish waters are those of the fisheries protection vessels run by the Scottish government. It is absurd for a nation with a coastline longer than India’s to have no major surface vessels. And it’s obscene for a nation of five million people to host weapons of mass destruction.”
This is a curious statement in my opinion and in my view, it seems to be tad disingenuous as many of the vessels based in Scotland are submarines and not “major surface vessels” as Alex Salmond was keen to stress but are smaller patrol vessels and submarines. Making a distinction like that ignores the most capable anti-surface warfare vessels in the British fleet, the nuclear powered (not armed) submarines.
Why would anyone, when discussing how well Scotland is defended, want to discount the submarines?
The claim has now evolved into something new, the claim that there are no surface vessels of any kind in Scottish waters.
Because of the absurd shame and exorbitant cost of nuclear weapons Scotland, which has a coastline longer than that of India has no surface ships to defend it. Thankfully #SNP19 voted unanimously today to scrap them and repurpose Faslane pic.twitter.com/Qgt0ZaHGCH
— Cllr Neil Gilbert (@Cllrneilgilbert) April 28, 2019
The claim has (as shown above) morphed into there simply being no surface vessels in Scotland of any kind, major or minor. The continued outrage this claim fosters appears to result from people not willing to do their own fact checking.
The claim that there are no surface vessels based in Scotland is false and to be frank, irrelevant. The nuclear submarines are primary anti-surface and anti-submarine platforms in the Royal Navy and Faslane hosts most of them. Has anyone mentioned the Maritime Patrol Aircraft?