Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, has again incorrectly claimed that Royal Navy work could come to shipyards in an independent Scotland.

This claim has been made a few times over the last few years, the most recent claim was made during a call-in session on BBC Radio 5 Live.

Caller: “Would the London Government send ships to Scotland?”

Sturgeon responded: “In order to be built? There’s no reason why not; Our shipyards, there are two shipyards on the Clyde that have some of the best expertise anywhere in the UK.”

There are in fact reasons why not, including one being promoted by the SNP themselves.

The first reason would be the campaign to restrict UK naval work to UK yards

The SNPs own manifesto points out that the party want all UK naval work restricted to UK yards.

This would exclude an independent Scotland from competing on all UK shipbuilding work, not just Royal Navy complex warship contracts but also the internationally tendered Royal Fleet Auxiliary support vessels.

This is something, by the way, that the UK Defence Journal supports. Previous Government plans to procure up to three new support ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary internationally  are facing opposition from almost all parties and trade unions. We go into detail here regarding the arguments for keeping this work in The UK. It’s also widely believed that the recent move to suspend the Fleet Solid Support Ship programme is part of an effort to restrict the work to UK yards.

A second reason, at least at first, would be ITAR restrictions

Defence contractors that work with items or technology of US origin (of which most naval vessels contain) are also covered by undertakings given in accordance with the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), under which any change to an existing US export licence requires US State Department approval.

An independent Scottish state would be a third-party country, not covered by existing UK-US ITAR agreements. UK companies would not have authority to transfer items and information that is subject to ITAR licence to their subsidiaries or other companies in an independent Scottish state or to a Scottish national, without US approval, anymore than it could transfer such material to organisations or individuals in other foreign states.

Every licence held by companies in Scotland working on ITAR-controlled items would have to be re-approved if Scotland became independent which would take years.

The third, and most important, reason would be the the National Shipbuilding Strategy restricting warships from international tendering

The Ministry of Defence, the organisation paying for the ships, has also made it clear that leaving the UK would impact orders at Scottish yards. A statement was made by then Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology with responsibility for Defence procurement and Defence exports in response to a question from Brendan O’Hara, MP for Argyll and Bute, regarding the Type 26 frigates.

“What I can confirm to the hon. Gentleman is that, had the independence vote gone the way that he and his colleagues would have liked, no warships would have been built on the Clyde, because the United Kingdom Government would not have chosen to build them there; we made that very clear.

Other than procurement activity undertaken during the World Wars, the UK has not had a complex warship built outside of the UK since the start of the 20th century at least. All the Royal Navy’s new complex warships are being built in UK shipyards.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy prevents what it defines as warships (frigates, destroyers and aircraft carriers) from being built outside of the UK. If Scotland left the UK, it would no longer be eligible to compete based on this restriction.

“For reasons of national security, all Royal Navy warships (destroyers, frigates and aircraft carriers) will continue to have a UK-owned design, and, will be built and integrated in the UK. Warship build will be via competition between UK shipyards. But international partners will be encouraged to work with UK shipyards and other providers to produce the best possible commercial solution.”

This is why all of the Royal Navy’s new complex warships are being built in UK shipyards.

What does this all mean?

The UK Government would have to be incredibly determined to find a way around the above restrictions and build Royal Navy ships in an independent Scotland. Frankly, it would be easier and more politically viable to build future vessels in a yard in what remains of the UK.

It’s hard to see how that would be politically viable for a party of any colour to sell to voters in whatever remains of the UK should Scotland leave.

Scotland could (and if it wants to keep the yards going, it should) build its own naval vessels but the claim that UK naval contracts would still come to Scottish yards is not correct.

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Barry White

I have heard this a lot
I have also heard that the workers on the Clyde (or some anyway) could come south to work on them and again that should be a resounding NO also
Why you may ask Well they will send their wages back to their homeland and that will only benefit the country that wants to break up this union
Sorry if that offends anyone BUT im British first and English second

Harry Bulpit

A lot of the Clyde workers, at least the high skilled ones, are not Scottish nationalists. the workforce is drawn from qualified individuals from around the union.

Daniele Mandelli

Yes I had wondered that too.


And how would you enforce a rUK only workforce? Based on experience working on current build projects for RN/RFA large number of the highly skilled workers are from rest of Europe and the world, so if going to make worker UK post a potential Scottish independence got a lot of training to do…


Brexit is the answer! Work permits. Scotland would have to move to the queue with other nations. As you mention, there are highly skilled workers from other foreign nations; why would rUK use relatively expensive Scottish workers?

Betty Ferguson

I’m sorry but if she is determined to get independence then England should use their own shipyards and workmen. She should be stripped from all that is British. Including the u boats that secure our shores along with the army n airfields. She wants to Govern then let her and see where it lands her. Let her face the buffoons who followed her when there’s no funding for public services. She is power mad and indy isn’t her main objective. Racist sectarian BITCH.

andy reeves


andy reeves

STURGEON WANTS TO BREAK UP THE UNION, TO ME THATS TREASON, AND SHOULD BE TREATED THAT WAY.nobody held a gun to scotland’s head when they signed for the union

andy reeves


Geoffrey Roach



Can’t stand that woman or the SNP. No different to the narrow minded, racist and divisive politics of UKIP, BNP or the EDL.
As for building our ships in their yards? Why? To benefit the people that destroyed our country?
Scottish independence is as much of a fools errand as Brexit. The EU aren’t playing ball with the UK, why should they? So why would the UK be any different toward Scotland? I’d punish them if it were me

andy reeves

the party is as insignificant as the greens, just ignore them, they’ll go away with their tails between their legs when they see the big bad world doesn’t want anything to do with an independent scotland

Mark B

Clearly Nikki doesn’t think the figures add up for Scotland without the defence work. The SNP have spent ages putting the boot in and generally stirring this up over Brexit she thinks this is her best chance for UDI. I don’t think this is going to end well for her.

John Clark

Absolutely Mark, you can only push the politics of
victimisation , blame and hatred so far…

Scratch below the surface and there is nothing!

I would love an SNP voter to come on here and defend the SNP position and set out how it works…

The silence is deafening!

I say give the SNP their referendum and watch them fall to bits.

Mark B

Agreed John. Need to let things settle down with Brexit. With a free trade agreement everyone will wonder what the fuss was about probably over the next year or so. Nikki knows this hence the rush to a referendum. Her fight is with other Scots who aren’t as dim as she thinks they are.

andy reeves


Rob N

I find it strange that the SNP that wants independence and freedom from the Union is so keen to be part of the European Union..! If they are worried about lack of representation and having policy dictated by other countries why do they love the EU?

I think independence would be a disaster for Scotland and damaging for the UK as a whole. However I think we should diversify our ship building south of the boarder as a backup should they decide to commit economic suicide.

Mark B

Good point Rob. The obvious answer is that they want power therefore they must show that Westminster is incompetent and they could do better. It is not credible that Scotland can go it alone so the SNP need to say they will fill the gaps using EU institutions. I wonder if they would ever actually join the EU – would they try to go it alone?

andy reeves

would there be implications for it to be part of NATO? latvia would be more powerful. how would a scottish army,navy,air force, be assembled?

Betty Ferguson

I’d rather have Westminster than the EU and let’s not forget “” GERMANY “”

andy reeves

MY DAD wORKED ALL HIS LIFE IN A HEAVY PLATE BUILDING COMPANY IN THE MIDLANDS. I ENDED UP there as well when i left the navy(back in the days of steam) there is no way that they couldn’t have fabricated sections for ship production, you don’t have to be a shipbuilder to build ships. modern ships are assembled from parts like lego models, not fabricated on site. spreading building contracts around the nation, would see faster builds more localised employment opportunities and a poke in the eye to the clyde and BAE.

andy reeves

she’ll go the same way as salmon, into oblivion

David Barry

Scotland leaves, it leaves. That means no more rUK naval shipbuilding, no automatic membership of NATO or the EU

Mark B

The other countries in the UK will need to see they are not put at a disadvantage by a weak Scotish defence. NATO would be in our interests. If the EU want to admit the Scots why is that a problem to us? The UK shipbuilding argument to me is irrelevant if you are a Scot who want their own Government. We just need to bash out the withdrawal agreement and future relationship beforehand, it would need at least 60% of Scots wanting it and personally I don’t fancy any more referendums for about 10 years. We could just set… Read more »

Mr Bell

Only 10 years before/ between referendum? Really? I thought the last one was a once in a generation occurrence? SNP agreed to the last one on the understanding it was a once in a lifetime occurrence, then just a scant few years later they feel they have the right to hold another one.
Once in a generation to my mind is every 20-25 years minimum. And only if enough Scots democratically demonstrate a desire to revisit this tired and sad issue all over again.

Mark B

You will note I suggest a minimum 60% of Scots support independence. None of this 52/48 nonsense ever again please! Therefore clearly the SNP would have to show they could reach that threshold before we even considered it.
Also in my opinion and Nikki’s she needs to get the referendum done by the end of next year. At that point when it is clear that relations between to UK and the EU have not been a disaster and Nikki and her friends have been crying wolf all along. After that she is toast.

andy reeves


Robert Miller

There is no such agreement on paper stating it is a once in a generation between referendums. Just like all the lies Scots were told about vote no and stay in the EU. The lies to the Scots were endless. Just like the big red londum bus,with slogan about monies to be given to the NHS. All lies !!

Phil lotcho

Not only was there an agreement but it is called the “Edinburgh agreement”
And both salmond and sturgeon signed before the Indy referendum

Also the phrase “once in a lifetime” when applied to the said Indy referendum, was coined by salmond himself

andy reeves

i read an article a year or so back about building a new navy from scratch, the way to buy,assemble, and operate one.starting with buying second hand ships and building from there, it was a fabulous read, one that the M.O.D SHOULD READ AND TAKE HEED OF

Ernest Harrison

If Scotland becomes and independent nation then as a third party county, they cannot tender to build UK warships. That is a fact that Nicola Sturgeon will have to come to terms with.

Also a slight deviation. There will also be border checks. It really is that black and white.


There would be no border checks. Who the ell do you think you are? In a position to impose them are you?

Mark B

Mike haven’t we just been over this with Ireland. The Scots need to do this because it is more important to them than the negatives that independence imposes. Perhaps you guys need to think about all the potential issues like borders, trade, defence, currency, industry and decide if you really want it. If you can’t handle those things stop wasting our time ….

Barry White

You will be in the EU and we wont
Of course there will be a a hard border and checks
Different tariffs etc (if we dont get a good deal with the EU that is) so it goes without saying that their will have to be border controls
As the EU keep saying re the Ireland border the technology dosnt exist for it not to be a hard border so it stands to reason a hard border it will be
And with that in mind who are you biggest customers ?

Ernest Harrison

If Scotland leaves the UK and in particular joins the EU – There will be border checks. What do you think all the problems in N Ireland are about. Scotland would become a third country in independent. I would not impose them, the EU would and the UK might.

Are you trying to say there will be no border controls in the scenario above?

Jay R

The UK Government WILL implement a hard border between Scotland and the UK. The fantasies that it will be like NI is just that, fantasies. The situation is wholly different. NI has an Independent Ireland right at its border so there’s a conflict between the groups who want to join Ireland and those who dont. To keep the peace between these groups, we have the GFA. An independent Scotland is fully on their own. The UK has no interest to keep the borders open just to please Independent Scotland. It would not be in the UK interest to have the… Read more »

Ernest Harrison

not a Scot but also if Scotland joined the EU, there would have to be a border to protect their precious Single Market. Another reason military shipbuilding with be done South of the Border.


Bell end troll! Hi mike keep posting, your opinion is quite funny and sad and therefore entertaining. Keep it up son!

Bob R

The EU would require a hard border to protect its fiefdom.


Are you suggesting that if Scotland becomes independent it’ll still be able to dictate rUK’s border policies to it? Typical Scottish Nationalist deluded arrogance – thinking that after having split away from rUK (at which point it will become A SEPARATE SOVEREIGN STATE) you can continue to dictate their internal policies to them. Same rubbish as in 2014, when you thought that it was actually reasonable to demand a currency union (which was really a demand that rUK continue to underwrite iScotland’s financial sector) because…you’re just superior and therefore deserve more than anyone else, right? That coolade you’ve been slurping… Read more »


The independence objective of the SNP appears to be all-consuming, however, is it the main topic of the Scottish people? There is even talk of an independent Wales, so how viable are these goals? Both countries enjoy the protection of the UK forces and military bases located in each country. The burning question of affordability in maintaining these bases if they vote to leave, needs careful analysis. The current threats to global peace won’t suddenly vanish, and the UK can not be expected to continue to fund these facilities? On the question of current RN shipbuilding; if I worked in… Read more »


No body wants to be associated with what Engerland is becoming

Mark B

Engerland – has anyone been there? Are you from there Mike? Might be England with a Glaswegian accent? Personally I’m quite happy with my English, Scottish, Irish and European roots. As for the future I am happy with supporting a democratic decision and running with it but I am not keen on changing anything else just at the moment. Things will settle down.

John Clark

Mike, don’t be fooled by the SNP’s politics of hatred and victimisation.

Scotland on its own will be impoverished, with a tiny GDP.

If you don’t think this is the case, we await your prediction of how Scotland will prosper on its own with great interest.


It’s rumored that many south of the border will probably give Scotland a miss for holidays if it goes independent? That may be the case, for while as people weight up if they will be welcome anymore, odd but an understandable attitude? If a new referendum is agreed, there could be an increase in what people may see as an anti English mood, in the months and weeks leading up to the vote? Over time, however, life will return to normal and the glens will be as welcoming as ever.

Mark B

Maurice the English will keep going as long as we are welcome. The same goes for the EU. Obviously if the price goes up some will go to other places. I don’t think tourism will be the problem.

Mr Bell

There will be border checks, there will be import/ export duties, there will be a hard border. Ideally a modern aged Hadrians wall would be good. Brexit has proven you cannot have your cake and eat it. Wee little cranky needs to absorb that lesson. I think if Scotland does vote for independence once the Euphoria has calmed down Scotlands population will rapidly realise wee Jimmy is a rubbish leader and does not know how to run a country. You can easily see that now, just look at the state of public services, despite an additional £650-700 per capita of… Read more »

Gordon Highlander

I permanently stopped going to Scotland or buying any Scots products or services after the 2014 referendum – and I am half Scots and have served in a Scottish unit. If they are daft enough to go then they really go and the UK should not accommodate them in any way. I suggest however that the UK should detach the Orkneys and Shetlands by offering them the same tax and dependency status as the Channel Islands and Isle of Man. It would be useful to retain a forward airbase, radar station and naval facilities there. Scapa Flow could become the… Read more »

700 Glengarried Men

John I question if Mike is actually Scottish or just a troll seeking to cause resentment between our Nations


Apart from your mum!


Not able to answer all the points raised. One was of interest though raised by another poster, as suggested by a former Westminster MP – ‘amalgamate all the forces’. That would probably be the case once we achieve freedom in Scotland for our wee armed forces (mind you, Engerland’s may not be quite so grand after the next cuts). Meantime, with record numbers going to vote for a second freedom referendum leading towards a sovereign Scotland under the cross party ‘All Under One Banner’ Platform, I shall be absent assisting with campaigning for a shock result in the coming Westminster… Read more »

Andrew r

Oh look… Another stroppy jock on about how they will be better off after independence.

John Clark

I appreciate your views Mike, but please do let us know how it will work?

I see the plans for a referendum, but how will the mechanics of an independent Scotland actually work, I am genuinely interested Mike.

Despite the SDP’s view to the contrary, living in Scotland, you already get a better deal than the rest of us, more spent per head etc.

A small population, means a small GDP, that in turn means high borrowing, high taxes and lower spending per head… That’s economic fact.

How will it work without plunging Scotland into economic chaos?

Mr Bell

John, your waisting your time, they dont know, have no clue, and are making it all up as they go along. Classic one policy politics in action.

David Stephen

Really? “achieve freedom in Scotland”. Braveheart is not a documentary and Buckfast is not medicine. PS, I think I see you but it’s hard to distinguish one twat from another.


Sad troll

Mr Bell

Mike, Mike, Mike. Simple maths time. Barnett formulary= £15 billion a year. Last years quietly hushed up Scottish overspend £2.5-3 billion. Minimum £18 billion in government revenue lost the minute Scotland votes for independence I hope. Then there is the money leaving the country last indyref the FT predicted £100-200 billion of investment and assets will be drained out of Scotland. Add no RN ship building, closing of Rossyth etc and independence looks like a very expensive pill for wee little jimmy cranky to swallow. I am just getting you back with that last statement for calling us little Engerlanders.… Read more »

700 Glengarried Men

I am proud to be both Scottish and British and live on the Clyde. The SNP are selling a vision of a Scottish exit that they can’t guarantee, keeping the pound , shipbuilding freedom of movement etc, access to both Europe and uk markets without penalty. A hard brexit would be a SNP nightmare as it would mean if Scotland left and joined Euro, it would default to a hard border and customs tariff, I think SNP would seek to mortgage Faslane against shipbuilding but the fact of the matter is Scots economy couldn’t take the shock of losing many… Read more »

John Clark

Absolutely spot on Glengarried men. I hope enough of your fellow countrymen also see the reality of the situation. I feel sure that given a referendum, remain will decisively win again, especially with BREXIT becoming a reality … The SNP have been very good at at whipping up a nationalist fever up among certain sections of Scottish society. They have managed to convince their followers that everyone ‘down south’ is to blame for all their wows. If the SNP ever achieved their target of independance for Scotland, then I will guarantee that Mike and his friends will soon be protesting… Read more »

Barry Larking

The lack of intellectual reach and analysis Ms Sturgeon displays should not surprise. The S.N.P. is always about England not Scotland if you look at the party’s history. It’s like those cartoons where some character gleefully saws through a branch and discovers, too late, they are sitting on the wrong section …


Reality is we have invested so much in ship building in Scotland that moving it south of the border would not be an easy tasks and probably the current planned ships will all be built there and 50/50 the ones after them. The cost of moving everything south of the border would stretch the defence budget too far

700 Glengarried Men

Steve surely the investment is owned by BAE and Babcock IScotland would need to agree any tech transfer agreements and provide compedative tenders to obtain any contracts that would be available on the international markets. It would find it hard to compete with Korea or a subsidised French yard


That’s my point. The MOD has pilled in huge amounts of cash into propping up Scottish ship building, at the expense of other yards and as you state that investment isn’t owned by the UK gov it’s owned by BAe and is spent money. If we want to switch to building in the remaining parts of the uk, then fresh investment would need to be made.


a price worth paying

Mr Bell

No Steve, I think the rUK would not have any appetite or tolerance to Scotland and its ship builders. Whatever the cost is to move it all back south we will have to bare. Trident will have to be based in USA until a new UK deterrent sub base can be commissioned, probably in Cornwall.


It would take a decade or so to rebuild the capability and by that time the rUK population would be used to Scotland being the builder and the story will end. On trident being based in the US, I can’t see that flying with anyone, my guess Scotland will let us base them there for a period, as way of getting the build contracts.


they should build an underground facility – underneath isle of Portland? LOL


That’s not reality that’s fantasy mate, ITAR regs specifically state an independent country cannot use US military hardware without senate oversight / approval or whatever they call it, that takes years to acquire, barrow already has a shipyard, contracts from BAE and MOD and is already participating in ITAR. Why would the UK risk losing that just to keep building in the Clyde? It doesn’t make sense to assume you’ll keep everything the same after independence, Brexit should have taught you that reality of a situation is not so black and white, leavers thought we would enjoy the same benefits… Read more »


That’s just scare mongering worst case stuff. If we go to the US and ask for a export order for Scotland they will grant it in a heart beat if it means exports and US jobs creation.

The only reason we won’t build in independent Scotland is the optics and votes of not building in rUK.

How the balance will play out between cost Vs votes who knows.


My guess ship building will get further delayed as there is no desire for the massive up front costs of moving, so instead it will happen over multiple parliament’s and so decades.


Errr, No, if Scotland became independent then the shipyards for Royal Navy build should come to either Portmouth or Liverpool; Newcastle or Belfast is possible but will need to much work. Why the hell should we spend billions in a diffrent country. As for the SSNs and SSBNs possibly Millford, it is deep enough and they can get to the shelf quickly so that should not be a major issue apart from the cost of building a new base, but we could always give that to the SNP as a part of the seperation cost. As for the SNPs moan… Read more »

Barry White

Loved what you say
But you have forgotten one thing that a lot of people forget re the Subs
The SSNs can all be based at Devonport as most of them were before they decided to base them all at Faslane
Also the refits and refueling of the SSBNs are only done at Devonport
The new SSBN base could be Cornwall /Millford


Barry White, Yes I agree the SSBN base could be in Cornwall, but when I was checking charts Milford was better due to distance to the shelf and the ammount of miles inland, you can get all the way up to Pembroke. There is also hills etc to convert into bunkers for the missiles, that was my reasoning for Milford/Pembroke.
I did not know that the SSNs and SSBNs needed refueling, I thought that the hull was designed for the length of the reactor

Christopher Allen

This woman is completely delusional, it is pretty difficult to take her seriously when more people in Scotland voted for Brexit, then for the SNP. She even thinks there will be no border with England if an independent Scotland were to rejoin the EU. Uh, does she not realise why a border is necessary with Ireland? It’s not the UK that wants a border, but us the protectionist EU. I doubt they would make an exception just because Nicola Sturgeon asked for one. Personally, I blame Cameron for this, delibrately sacrificed shipbuilding at Portsmouth to keep shipbuilding at Glasgow, which… Read more »


Cannot understand for one second why the s n p would think becoming independent would be a good thing?? They would not be allowed to join the eu or nato for a good few years……meaning who is going to protect them if they need rescuing or defending……you’ve guessed it…..the English…….sturgeon needs to come off her high horse and start protecting the union before it s too late for the poor Scottish people, who will suffer economically.

Andy P

Surely T.martin it would be the ‘British’ that would have to come to Scotland’s aid in this hypothetical rescue after this hypothetical independence…..

An other little Ingerlander found on here…..

Some fascinating reading about this mythical future Scotland on here and how some of the posters would ‘deal’ with it.


Andy p……how wrong you are!!!….British first…..England second…..I believe in keeping the union together…..sturgeon is a little scotlander……i used England as a seperate country because there would be no Britain if sturgeon got her own way…..she wants to remain in the eu but break up uk?????? Mass unemployment in the shipyards and misery for the Scottish population…..just because she wants to feel important…….sad


It is all well and good saying they will not be built in Scotland if and in my opinion when they become independent but where in England could the T26 or T31 be built?

peter french

Anything else you want Nicola, just ask and hold your breath . Not for too long or your going to need to be resuscitated

andy reeves

to my mind this odious little madam has somebody foot in here mouth 24 hours a day.scotland has done nothing to deserve shipbuilding orders from anywhere in the u.k the work the R.N has received is shoddy overpriced woefully slow to deliver, often seen be shoddy, glued nuts and bolts!!! if it wasn’t for the poorly constructed contract details where cancelling an order carries penalties akin to just carrying on with original order little miss krankie should acknowledge that scotland is grateful getting the contracts it has because if the biggest yards south of the border hadn’t been run down… Read more »


There is an element here not being considered. Who is the PM in the UK. If we have a hard line PM then Scotland would get butchered after independence. No ships, no nothing in truth, probably a great big wall…… If we have a softer PM then its more than possible that the UK would prop up an independent Scotland for decades to come. Would Mr Corbyn handle a yes vote in Scotland the same way as say Mr Johnson ? Also consider…. would you like to see a small country physically joined to the UK undergo massive hardship for… Read more »

Phil Chadwick

The great Scottish People are intensely proud of their History and heritage and so they should be. Scotland has contributed in equal terms to the prosperity and global standing of our World famous Nation, The United Kingdom, of which they are an integral part. However, it is very sad that seemingly, the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon’s only interest is to be able to say ‘We are Scottish at last’, to the great detriment of the Scottish economy. Well I’ve got news for her … The People of Scotland ALREADY consider themselves Scottish and they ARE!!! They’ve been Scottish for Centuries… Read more »

Ken Evans

As a UK citizen l would not build any warship aircraft or military vehicles anywhere other than UK, it is money wasted to go abroad then there is the security question.

Graham Haxell

Cammell Laird in Birkenhead can do the job!