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.

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.

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 on the Clyde
  • HMS Astute
  • HMS Ambush
  • HMS Artful

Seven Sandown class mine countermeasures vessels

HMS Penzance, a Sandown class vessel.
  • 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

P2000 Class Royal Navy Patrol Vessel HMS Raider MOD 45151351.jpg
HMS Raider, an Archer class patrol craft.
  • HMS Tracker
  • HMS Raider
  • HMS Pursuer

Four of what the base is arguably known for, Vanguard class SSBNs.

Vanguard class submarine HMS Victorious.
  • 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.

HMS Astute and frigate HMS St Albans on exercise off the Scottish coast.

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.


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?


4.3 6 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Article should also mention we now have an increasing fleet of MPA’s to patrol the north sea.


Hey i know I’m being finicky but 2 of the Sandowns are based in bahrain at any one time…I know because I have been working on one of them for the past 2 weeks!


Dog whistle Politicians talking to the faithful. Let’s not let inconvenient facts interfere with a good story. It is worrying that some people will believe this rubbish.
As more information has become available through the internet the less it is believed. It’s a funny inverse law.


Hi Richard,

I think this is a small example populist politics. Which is deffinately something to be concerned about, just look at what is happening in the US at the moment, not to mention Poland, Hungary and others in around the world…

I agree with you that the internet was supposed to given access to information to all, instead we are moving into an age of belief – usually in fake news and falsehoods. Science seems to be losing ground. Worrying to say the least.

Cheers CR

Douglas Newell

I’ve always found the SNP disdain for “Populist Leaders” around the world quite amusing, as they are so clearly a “populist” party themselves. They spread fake news and and love t scapegoat the “English”.

That idiotic tweets like this come from an elected representative, just shows the nick of the party from root to stem.


Perhaps not surprisingly that post seems to have disappeared from Alan Brown’s twitter feed. Weird.


Well, we must keep tweeting it back to his twitter handle then. Shysters should not be allowed to hide.


You must first remember that the nationalists are never concerned with the truth but are only engaged in grievances to keep their core vote happy.
Unfortunately they never let truth get in the way of any grievance real or usually imagined


I am starting to wonder if these Scottish MPs don’t look at RN deployments. Anyways is it possible that they mean Based in Scotland rather than In Scottish waters (deployed).


At this point it’s probably safer to assume that they simply mean “the UK is failing is, we’d be so much better independent”, regardless of what the actual wording is.

Alan Reid

I do often wonder why, if independence is such a great idea, separatists keep having to make stuff up !?!

Robert Stevenson

Be lucky if we could afford a fish trawler and don’t get me started on the ferry building contract


Hi Robert…….She’s bought a new Crane………to build more ferries 😆


Unbelievable and he is not alone. Donald Trump lies every time he opens his mouth and here in SA we have some champions in the art of misinformation and deceit.

Robert Stevenson

Well what do you expect, his nearest body of water to his constituency is Ayr Beach

Andy P

With regards to the Rosyth ‘bit’, there is still nominally a Naval Establishment in Rosyth, its been rebranded as ‘MOD Caledonia’ but home to FOSNNI’s booty band, an RNR unit and a few other bits and bobs. Its pencilled to shut relatively soon, the year fluctuates, the last I heard was ’22. Whether that still happens with the T31’s being built remains to be seen. Its hardly a massive local employer and a bit of a ‘sleepy hollow’ so not a lot of mileage out of moaning about it shutting.

Ian Skinner

well, it was set up to guard against German battlecruisers, and there haven’t been any of those about for a very long time.

Daniele Mandelli

“Transgressions” !? From who?

It is at the other end of the UK where the transgressions are.

Mark B

An independent Scotland probably wouldn’t be able to afford a navy capable of leaving Scottish waters for the open sea.

Geoffrey Roach

“so where does this claim come from? ” idiot. These guys want to look after their own defence…jeeeez

Alan Reid

Hi Geoffrey, I wish they were idiots – it would be so much easier! But separatists knows how to play their supporters: Feed a narrative of bogus grievance and gripe – and a sense that Scotland is somehow always being exploited and failed by the UK. Hence, “No Warships in Scotland !!!” ….. A diehard independence supporter/or even undecided voter will think, “That wouldn’t be allowed to happen in an independent Scotland! We would do it better if we arranged it ourselves!” There is a relentless feeding of that kind of narrative into public discourse over a range of subjects… Read more »

Andy P

Evening Alan, you’ve pretty much nailed it, the SNP shouldn’t be underestimated, all roads lead to independence and at any cost, damn the consequences.

Geoffrey Roach

Your right of course Alan. I promise you I’m old enough and experienced enough not to underestimate anyone in politics.. I think the combination of the C word, Trump and this guy sent me momentarily over the top! Stay safe.

John Hampson

The SNP’s fantasy Defence Policy, published on this site, demonstrated they have not the slightest grasp of reality.

Andy P

To be fair John, it wasn’t the SNP’s defence policy, just a couple of boys who were SNP. As Alan says above, defence is very unlikely to be a priority for the SNP, they’ve never shown an interest (or aptitude) for it in the past.


He should be prosecuted for spreading lies & slander & banned from public office.

peter french

Another classic stupidity from a SNP classic stupid man. How is it that idiots like this get to be an MP. Well the answer is that the man got to be an MP because he belongs to the SNP.


I really wish that there was a law to prevent MPs publishing and spouting fake facts. It really gets my goat that they aren’t formally brought task on the rubbish the constantly utter to further the political machinations.


God those SNP clowns get so boring and repetitive with their sad narrative aimed at their sheep like followers.