Work is well underway on a new training facility which will “secure HMNB Clyde as the central base for submariners in the UK”, say the Ministry of Defence.

The facility

According to a news release:

“Last year the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) awarded a contract worth £80-million to Kier Graham Defence Ltd to deliver the works, which are expected to be completed in early 2023.

The Submarine Training Facility (SMTF) building will house the Royal Navy’s new submarine school for all submarine specific training including training for submariners on the new Dreadnought Class submarines, which will maintain the UK’s Continuous At Sea Deterrent. Designed and built in the UK, these submarines will employ world-leading and cutting-edge technology.

The training currently based at the Royal Naval Submarine School (RNSMS) at HMS Raleigh and elements of the training from the Defence School of Marine Engineering (DSMarE), and the Nuclear Systems Group and Nuclear Faculty at HMS Sultan will also transfer to the new facility. During May, the new building started to take shape as steel frames were put into place, marking a significant construction milestone in the project.

The new SMTF facility will be located adjacent to, but separate from, the recently completed submarine escape, rescue, abandonment and survival (SMERAS) facility on the base.”

Steven O’Connor, DIO Project Manager, said:

“DIO is proud to be leading on the development of this essential facility at HMNB Clyde and to support the development of the centre of specialisation. This will ensure that Royal Navy personnel can train in a state-of-the-art environment for many years to come.”

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Deep32
Deep32
16 days ago

Although it makes some sense to have all things Submarine based in Faslane, MOD are framing an awful lot of infrastructure into what is largely a small piece of land.
Not entirely sure what this will do to submariner retention figures either! Whilst it’s a nice part of the world, not everyone will want to live/be permanently based there.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
16 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

It is odd.

I love the area but I wouldn’t want to be there full time for years.

Sonik
Sonik
16 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

How does duty time work with submariners?

Do they spend much duty time shore side or is it mostly sea time, away for long periods? (After basic training)

What I’m getting at is given time spent at sea Vs leave etc. do submariners need to ‘live’ on base or could they live elsewhere, and travel to join the boat?

Especially those with families, kids etc. Seems to me it’s not like the Army who spend most of their time on camp or nearby, with the occasional tour or training trip. But I stand to be corrected!

Last edited 16 days ago by Sonik
Deep32
Deep32
15 days ago
Reply to  Sonik

Two different questions really, but both impacted by where you live. Firstly if based on a SM, generally for 3 years (could be longer), you can broadly speaking expect to be away for 660 days in that period. It’s not necessarily an even spread across the years either. Most single people and those who don’t have homes locally, live on the base and commute at weekends/leave periods if not duty. Those who live local go home every night. Depending on where you live depends on how much time you spend on the road! When you’re shore based, you work mon-fri… Read more »

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Thanks for your response. So with the time spent on base it’s not so very different from the Army, save that perhaps the ‘tours’ are a bit longer. Sounds like living away is not very feasible, and with Faslane being the @rse end of nowhere even moreso. Long distance weekly commuting is not much fun and it gets expensive. I know that civilian sailors (and I think possibly RFA) do quite long periods at sea, with longer leave periods in between. That would make things a bit easier but I guess that the endurance of boat crews is perhaps more… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
15 days ago
Reply to  Sonik

I spent most my time on running boats at Faslane. I lived on the east coast and when alongside generally commuted. There was quite a few did it, especially from the Rosyth area as a lot of us had settled there when Rosyth was doing the refits. Less now though. Its very doable but yeah, its 3 hours out your day but if you have a settled family then worth it.

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Yeah I guess Rosyth is doable. But anywhere south of the border is probably too far for a daily commute, and even Manchester/Leeds is a stretch for weekly. So basically means living in Scotland which doesn’t suit everyone.

Andy P
Andy P
15 days ago
Reply to  Sonik

You could say the same about guys who have built their lives in the local area and end up drafted to Plymouth/Portsmouth/London.

Plenty guys used to go weekend quite a distance, it helped if you could get a midday finish on a friday (or thin out thursday night).

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

I guess it’s a problem right across the forces – I know Army people who ended up doing weekly commute too. Partners & families are not so willing to get shunted around all the time these days, especially when kids get to their teens with changing schools etc.

But the particular problem for submariners is they already spend more time away, so home issues just add to the burden. I imagine it’s the biggest cause of retention issues, which is more the problem now recruitment seems to be much improved.

Last edited 15 days ago by Sonik
Andy P
Andy P
15 days ago
Reply to  Sonik

“But the particular problem for submariners is they already spend more time away” Not sure we spend more time away than the surface fleet, a lot depends on the running you’re doing. I found the ‘lies’ we were told about sailing more of a grind on myself and family. Getting told the boat was deploying on (for example) monday when you know you’re not because your mate has told you his gear is fooked but Command still pretend you are….. Then its “definitely tomorrow….” when you know you’re not but you have to go home (if you’re not duty) and… Read more »

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Well that’s very interesting, thanks for sharing.

On the plus side, what you describe is just poor management. It’s something that in theory could be addressed with little or no cost, just a bit more leadership from the top. So no excuses for not doing better here!

Andy P
Andy P
15 days ago
Reply to  Sonik

On the plus side, what you describe is just poor management. It’s something that in theory could be addressed with little or no cost, just a bit more leadership from the top. So no excuses for not doing better here!”

Absolutely but it would take a massive culture shift. One that the RN really doesn’t fancy doing. As you say, the changes that would (in my opinion) make a big difference wouldn’t cost much if anything but ‘golden handcuffs’ is used in preference. It strikes me as a reluctance to treat people with respect which is pretty sad really.

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

I fairness, I have heard 1SL talking about exactly these kind of issues i.e. people getting mucked about unnecessarily, and how it affects morale/retention.

So I think the general problem is understood from the top, and there’s a desire to address it. It’s an attractive problem for the brass because it needn’t cost anything to fix! The difficulty as you say will be changing culture and attitudes as that trickles down command.

Last edited 15 days ago by Sonik
Andy P
Andy P
15 days ago
Reply to  Sonik

It would be good if there was a move away from the unnecessary buggerance. There’s a big gap between 1SL and 2 and a half/3 ringers trying to make their name. Glad its finally getting recognised though.

Andy P
Andy P
15 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Helensburgh is a bit of a sleepy hollow, especially if you’ve been used to the delights of U ion St. The navy don’t do themselves any favours with ‘After midnight’ logs etc either. No idea if Fassers is running with one at the moment. I k ow they stopped the lads pissing up in their cabins a few years back though.

Not helpful for retention.

Deep32
Deep32
15 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

It goes from bad to worse for them!!!

James Fennell
James Fennell
15 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

There is a lot of commonality between Astute and Vanguard systems, especially powerplant, so probably makes more sense than putting the T-Boats in Faslane. However Dreadnoughts will be different again.

Last edited 15 days ago by James Fennell
Deep32
Deep32
15 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

TBH James. I think it’s all about saving money in the short-med term.
Moving some 600-700 submariners from South to North whilst single living accommodation and married quarters were already in short supply hardly makes for a happy sailor.
All the training across all branches/trades is currently conducted down South, Plymouth/Portsmouth areas. By moving everything up to Faslane there will be a dirth of shore billets located in these areas for sailors to go to once they leave the submarine. Just adds to recruitment/retention issues.

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

The T-boats will be gone soon. Last one, Triumph, OSD is 2025 IIRC.

I guess the rundown will leave a few posts in Devonport for watchkeeping alongside when boats are retired, but that’s hardly an exciting draft either!

Last edited 15 days ago by Sonik
dan
dan
16 days ago

Are all of the British subs based at this one location?

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
16 days ago
Reply to  dan

Yes, eventually.

dan
dan
16 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Isn’t having all your subs located in just one location kinda a bad idea?

Rogbob
Rogbob
16 days ago
Reply to  dan

I think some occasionally go out to sea..

dan
dan
16 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

true but half the subs will be there at any one giving time and that’s where all the major sub support stuff is. makes it a lot easier for an enemy to have to attack just 1 base and not 2 or 3. America learned that the hard way with their battleships all at Pearl Harbor.

Crabfat
Crabfat
16 days ago
Reply to  dan

Ditto Brize Norton…

Nic
Nic
16 days ago
Reply to  Crabfat

I agree not a good idea to put all your resources in one location.

Mike
Mike
15 days ago
Reply to  Crabfat

Ditto RAF Lossiemouth. It seems most of the Air Force is based there.

Andrew
Andrew
15 days ago
Reply to  dan

Who are we going to War with? Russia is the only country I can see that could pose any kind of threat to the UK…. fortunately we are surrounded on all sides by friends and allies, so I think the risk is small…. It would be great to have 3 sub bases if we could fill them, but for 11 subs, not very cost effective!

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  Andrew

I agree, it’s not at all likely to happen

But more importantly, the whole purpose of CASD, is that your adversaries know you can & will retaliate, even if all your bases get taken out.

Attacking Faslane would therefore be an act of suicide; everyone that has the ability to do so knows this. So a single base isn’t really a problem at all strategically.

Last edited 15 days ago by Sonik
Nic
Nic
15 days ago
Reply to  Sonik

You might be right , but they will still have factor in a major security infrastructure both on land and sea.

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  Nic

Yep of course, you need to secure land and sea routes wherever you put your assets. Faslane was originally chosen as the home for CASD due to its defendable topography and easy access to the North Atlantic.

TrevorH
TrevorH
15 days ago
Reply to  dan

Where else would they have put their battleships?

Jimbo0
Jimbo0
16 days ago
Reply to  Rogbob

very good

julian1
julian1
15 days ago
Reply to  dan

Taking out 3 UK RAF bases would end the RAF as a combat force, one further base as a transport/logistics/refuelling force, 2 further bases as a helicopter force. The policy of consolidation into super bases is very flawed. There are other bases that aircraft can disperse to if there is adequate time. To think in the ’80s we must have had 30+ flying stations and now we have less than 10. The same thing is increasingly happening with the other services.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
15 days ago
Reply to  julian1

There isn’t any threat to UK shores, and consolidating our basing requirements is pretty common sense. It requires huge sums of money to operate an RAF station for just one or two units. Money that we can spend on much better things.

James Fennell
James Fennell
15 days ago
Reply to  dan

It would seem to me we are pretty much as small as we can go base-wise. The strategy to increase capacity in future will be interesting. The RAF will need to accomodate more F-35s and the new Mosquito UAS. Similarly the navy will need to find room for Type 32 and a range of unmanned systems. Sharing USAF facilities is one option for F-35 (RAF Lakenheath) or reactivating RAF Wittering or Wyton as flying bases or even getting RNAS Yeovilton back into fixed wing. The latter will result in the Wildcats needing to move so is unlikely. Expansion of Marham… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
15 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Not sure about RAF bases, but I imagine the T32s will be Plymouth based, not sure where the T31s are going to end up though, might well be Plymouth too, with the T26s in Pompey – so, probably totally wrong in my assessment!!!!!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

I thought I’d read the T26 was to based at Devonport.

Deep32
Deep32
13 days ago

TBH Daniele I’m just guessing. Currently the T23s are split between the two, with T45s in Pompey.
Devon port has lots of spare wharf front now that all SMs have gone North.
Of course Babcock’s own Devon port, whilst BAE own Pompey. It would actually make more sense to base T26/31 in Guzz and put the T32s in Pompey. I don’t think anyone is going to ask me though!!😂😂

Nic
Nic
14 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

I would agree with what you say, The three services and MOD will have to review the defence estate .

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Wittering is still a flying station! Grob UAS.

No chance with Wyton.

Leeming remains a possibility.

James Fennell
James Fennell
3 days ago

Yes! Leeming is the answer. General Purpose T23 frigates are at Pompey so I suspect Type 31 will go there too – although most will be forward based.

Crabfat
Crabfat
16 days ago

IF, and I say IF, the wee yin gets her way and Scotland gains its independence, then a whole load of Royal Navy infrastructure is at risk of closure and billions of investment goes down the drain. Is it a good thing for the RN to continue expanding Faslane?
Comments?

Sonik
Sonik
16 days ago
Reply to  Crabfat

IIRC it’s been considered and the solution would be to continue with Faslane as is, as an ‘overseas’ UK base. The Scottish government may get a token payment as a lease but frankly they would be mad if they did anything that threatens their largest single employer.

But ultimately don’t the investments at Faslane also make independence less likely? Then there is the small matter of shipbuilding…

Paul42
Paul42
15 days ago
Reply to  Sonik

That solution is not a given. Faslane maybe the biggest single employer, but the idea behind Scottish Independence is that the nuclear boats and warhead storage facility would go full stop. The MOD is taking a calculated risk by building all this infrastructure in one location.

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

I don’t know SNP policy on the issue, just reporting what I read elsewhere.

And doesn’t change the fact that turfing out the MoD would have major economic consequences for Scotland, even beyond Faslane.

Last edited 15 days ago by Sonik
Crabfat
Crabfat
15 days ago
Reply to  Sonik

Thank you, Sonik and Paul. Yes, there are some serious matters to be communicated to the Scottish people over this, before a referendum. They would have to be informed, in no uncertain terms, what would happen to all UK government facilities – whether defence, HMRC or others – and the immediate human and financial effect it would have on jobs and the economy. Not to mention withdrawal of the Barnett formula – over £80 billion a year (there is the arguement, however, that this is cancelled out by the tax revenues, which will be retained in Scotland, rather than go… Read more »

dc647a
dc647a
13 days ago
Reply to  Crabfat

As for the tax revenues from oil over the next 20 years it is going to be less and less then if they are still part of the UK they will be wanting an increase from the rest of the UK. They will just have to rely on whisky and drugs taken.

TrevorH
TrevorH
15 days ago
Reply to  Paul42

So guarantee Scottish independence then by removing our armed services…?

If such a strategic event happened then money, a lot of it, would be spent in England to replace it in Scotland. And of course a lot of scottish jobs and scots workers would go with it.

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  TrevorH

On the flip side, the politics around possible independence does encourage HMG to keep jobs in Scotland. So some Scottish politicians may well be playing that game, knowing full well that it’s unlikely to ever happen.

TrevorH
TrevorH
15 days ago
Reply to  Sonik

Yes. However we have a long history of building warships in Scotland.
Subs built in Cumbria
All the SAS is in Hereford
Our Royal Marines are concentrated in South Devon
Our fighter planes are in built in Lancashire
A lot of army training is in Wiltshire.

Nic
Nic
15 days ago
Reply to  Crabfat

You could also say the same about the RAF Bases and Army Base which also have a lot of local civilian employment and suppliers.
It would be a major mistake if they pushed for closure of the Bases

Sonik
Sonik
15 days ago
Reply to  Nic

Agreed; it’s also all the personnel, and families, supporting all the local shops and businesses etc. You can imagine the impact to the area if 5000 or so people just upped sticks and left.

Last edited 15 days ago by Sonik
Andrew James (Lt SM Retired)
Andrew James (Lt SM Retired)
14 days ago

I have a number of concerns with this move to centralising all Submarine training in Faslane. 1. Having soend well over half of my 23 years in the RN in or sailing from Faslane the highlights came when we headed south for our various training and re-training sessions back in Portsmouth at HMS Dolphin or Plymouth. Whilst leaving close to Loch Lomand and the beaty of the surrounding area it still is a hard life for the families we leave behind. So much so my second long stay in Faslane was married unaccompanied. I fear this will further add to… Read more »

DaveC
DaveC
14 days ago

I think it is stupid spending and investing in Scotland while SNP is still in control the money would be safer and better spent South of the border.

DaveC
DaveC
14 days ago

Also please note investing navel ship building in Scotland is a bad idea for the same reason. The money should be invested south of the border also in NI

Nic
Nic
14 days ago
Reply to  DaveC

Yes hopefully the forthcoming contracts for the solid supply ships , the Flagship and other Naval ships will be awarded to NI and other uk shipyards.

expat
expat
13 days ago

I’ve read this will mean on completion of this work the MoD are the 2nd largest single site employer in Scotland!!! I also read that an SNP MP has proposed some ferries may need to be built in Poland due to the Ferguson Marine mess.