Trident could be forced overseas or scrapped entirely if Scotland were to leave the UK, according to Rear Admiral John Gower.

The options are presented in a paper written by John Gower for the European Leadership Network.

The author of the paper, Rear Admiral John Gower CB OBE, served, until his retirement in Dec 2014, as Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Nuclear & Chemical, Biological) in the UK MoD. Previously, he had spent nearly half his 36-year military career at sea in ships and submarines culminating in the sequential command of two globally deployed submarines.

He then spent 17 years ashore, mostly in the MoD in London, increasingly specialising in UK nuclear weapon and counter-CBRN policy but also with time in Washington DC as the
Assistant Naval Attaché and twice on the staff of the UK Defence Academy. He had a key leadership role in the UK contribution to the international activity between 2011 and 2014 to counter the threat of Syria’s CW programme, culminating in the successful removal and destruction of Assad’s UN-declared stocks. With very close ties to his US and French counterparts, he represented the UK in senior relevant NATO committees for the last 6 years of his career.

Gower wrote:

“The ballistic-missile submarine base and the bulk of the operational support facilities for the UK’s independent nuclear deterrent are based on Scottish soil or in Scottish inland waters and territorial seas. A Scottish secession would therefore generate fundamental operational and fiscal issues for the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

The changes in UK nuclear policy announced in the 2021 Integrated review have further distanced UK policy from the principles of the Scottish National Party, thereby increasing the risk of secession. This would significantly impact the UK’s ability to field a submarine-based deterrent.”

The report also states:

“NATO must also clarify that, should an independent Scotland adopt policies that seriously jeopardise or remove a nuclear deterrent which provides a vital element of Alliance security, this would at the very least present a major obstacle to, and could very well render impossible, NATO membership for a future independent Scotland.”

One of the alternatives would be to base Trident at King’s Bay in the US or with the French nuclear fleet at Ile Longue, in Brittany. A third possibility would be scrapping the system all together due to the increased costs.

These plans, say Gower, are “highly speculative” but he adds “There appear to be no prima facie absolute blocks to an overseas basing” of Trident.

You can read the report here.

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Billythefish
Billythefish
5 months ago

A very politically charged report – slanted heavily against UK brexit, even taking a dig at Donald Trump (yawn) and US Republicans – as though they are against NATO? – what strange times we live in.

Not an analysis of the practicalities of rebasing as I first imagined – which would have been really interesting.

Callum
Callum
5 months ago
Reply to  Billythefish

Politically charged yes, but that goes hand in hand with discussing such a contentious topic. However, I couldn’t find any part of the report that was actually slanted against Brexit; it discusses realities and consequences, not biased opinions.

As for Trump, of course he’ll be portrayed negatively. He was a destabilising influence on NATO and collective defence, from a military perspective there’s not much you can say that’s good about him.

AlexS
AlexS
5 months ago
Reply to  Callum

Trump was worried about NATO that is why he protested paltry European contribution specially Germany. It is telling that those say nice things about NATO don’t put their money on it and at same time present themselves like they defend NATO. It i also possible the author had to take a dig at Trump because that is a badge you need to have to enter and stay in certain circles. Like scientists today have to have a phrase about “climate change” in their papers… Remind that in some places it was and it is necessary always to insert a phrase… Read more »

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
5 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Trump never understood how NATO worked when it came to funding, it is a mutual defence organisation where each member pledges its armed forces to support it. Except for a residual amount of funding from each member to keep the lights on at NATO HQ in Brussels there isn’t a big pot of money that the members pay into to fund NATO as a whole. Some members also fund joint assets like the NATO AEW&C fleet or the multi-role tanker transport fleet but that is it. The only funding commitment made by NATO members is to spend at least 2%… Read more »

lee1
lee1
5 months ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

Indeed, this is something quite a few people seem to not understand. The US does not have NATO specific assets that it buys and it can recall its assets at anytime it likes.

AlexS
AlexS
5 months ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

I see you are part of the problem… you even resort to newspeak “but they have every democratic right not too.”

Anyone can say the same about Trump criticizing Germany.

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
5 months ago
Reply to  AlexS

Yes but Trumps criticism of Germany is based upon his ignorant interpretation of how NATO funding works. He has the democratic right himself to make that criticism but it doesn’t make him right.

Rogbob
Rogbob
5 months ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

??? Trump never said NATO was a “pay in – get a service back”, his complaint was that they dont meet the voluntary 2%. A value Germany had every part in setting. He had every right to make that complaint, because others then pick up the slack capability wise. The Germans legally dont have to, but equally political pressure may make them, as perhaps Trump intended. This also has to be seen in context with the German decision on nuclear capable aircraft, basing for US troops costs and so on. All it really was, was a useful stick to hit… Read more »

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
5 months ago
Reply to  Rogbob

“??? Trump never said NATO was a “pay in – get a service back”

Trump has repeatedly stated that NATO is a pay in get back service in numerous tweets and multiple speeches at many events. He simply does not understand the difference between NATO direct and indirect funding! https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/12/10/trumps-nato-parade-false-facts-misstatements/

Last edited 5 months ago by Fedaykin
Fedaykin
Fedaykin
5 months ago
Reply to  Callum

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

lee1
lee1
5 months ago
Reply to  Billythefish

Where does it take a poke at Brexit?

James
James
5 months ago
Reply to  lee1

It doesnt, but blaming Brexit for anything and everything is going to be part of life for some time to come.

lee1
lee1
5 months ago
Reply to  James

The point is it is reports are now being rubbished as being pro-remain despite zero references to Brexit…

George
George
5 months ago

Hi folks,
Having just read the other related article, I’m sure that strategy will be developed by an independent Scotland and the UK government. Does the SNP really believe that Scotland wouldn’t be harmed if the remaining UK were in a nuclear exchange with an enemy?

Order of the Ditch
Order of the Ditch
5 months ago
Reply to  George

The SNP and it’s cult membership have no grasp of reality. They are like Brexiteers on steroids. Have a peruse of the comments section of The National and you will understand what die hard seperation supporters believe.

Barry Larking
Barry Larking
5 months ago
Reply to  George

‘Does the SNP really believe that Scotland wouldn’t be harmed if the remaining UK were in a nuclear exchange with an enemy?‘ I don’t think they would lose sleep over it. You know from my previous remarks I have never accepted Independence in the S.N.P.’s vision was ever about Scotland. The inspiration was always ‘what will harm England?’. A psychologist perhaps would be the best placed person to understand. Having seen Scotland literally blossom since my first visit half a century ago, I wonder what the Nationalists think they could possibly gain from de-coupling from such a financially favaourable alliance?… Read more »

Grant
Grant
5 months ago

I know Portlanders hate the grockles but I wouldnt consider it ‘Overseas’

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 months ago
Reply to  Grant

Don’t mention the rabbits sorry bunnies when on fraggle rock…

(Mrs Gunbuster is a Weymouth Girl and my kids were born there.)

Grant
Grant
5 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

A lovely part of the world…!
I think the Fraggles would love some bombers!

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
5 months ago

Remember this is the view of one retired Admiral, if Scotland gains independence and the decision is made to retain the deterrent by the rest of the UK then a number of options would be looked at. For National Security reasons I think in the end a site in England would be chosen. I think in the end it would boil down to a choice between Falmouth or Portland both of which have awkward but not unsolvable siting issues. Falmouth pros: close to Devonport and there is a suitable site for an Armaments depot. Falmouth cons: close to a population… Read more »

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 months ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

Portland may be an issue due to it being now used by cable ships and the odd RFA.
Coaling pier could be used as a berth with any infrastructure going where the old Admiralty Underwater Research Center was
Job wise Weymouth would jump at it. Its a really depressed area now… One of the reasons that the Gunbuster family moved away in the noughties.

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
5 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

The use by Cable ships and the odd RFA really would be the least of the problems related to Portland. Portland is a pretty logical site if the armaments depot issues could be resolved.

Grant
Grant
5 months ago
Reply to  Fedaykin

Why couldnt the depot be on the Island as well? You have the Verne and loads of empty quarries… thsre is very little on yhe eastbside of the Island from the Docks through to the Borstal…. ?

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
5 months ago
Reply to  Grant

Don’t have the local knowledge to answer that question.

JC
JC
5 months ago
Reply to  Grant

Very large/deep cold war nuclear bunker could be good for arms storage. Another issue though is the magnetic testing range near Portland bill which could be disturbed underground storage.

Order of the Ditch
Order of the Ditch
5 months ago

Frankly we should begin the necessary works to move everything to Plymouth. the Scots don’t want it up here and it is fuel to the SNP. Bring the system and the SSBN/SSNs to Plymouth to avoid giving the SNP any leverage going forward. Alternatively a referendum could by held in Argyll and Bute to see if they want to be a distinct legal entity within the UK meaning they would remain part of the UK in the event of a Yes vote.

Callum
Callum
5 months ago

Moving it is even more fuel for the SNP. Can you imagine the headlines? “UK Gov cuts thousands of Scottish workers in favour of England”. The best counter to the SNP is demonstrating how much Scotland gains from the union, not playing into their hands by cutting our losses early and giving them the momentum.

Plymouth can likely handle them on a short-term emergency basis already which, unless the nationalists try and force the fleet out of Scotland immediately, is more than enough.

Robert
Robert
5 months ago

Why can’t we just base them in England or on one of the British Overseas Territories, if Scotland was to gain independence. Why would it have to be based in the US or France?

dave12
dave12
5 months ago

l

Last edited 5 months ago by dave12
dave12
dave12
5 months ago

I would never really criticize UKDJ nor am I qualified todo so but It seems its recent headlines it’s trying talk itself into a independent Scotland ,when independent Scotland is very far from certain.

John Stevens
John Stevens
5 months ago
Reply to  dave12

True, had a look at the polling last night.. Still very close to call. Last night there was a slight lead for staying in the Union. I’m sure the SNP will have a good election, but very different when it comes to the lndy Ref:2 if that happens.

Paul C
5 months ago
Reply to  dave12

Not certain but a distinct possibility. More than a 50% chance I would say. That being the case, they need to be exploring their options now rather than kicking the can down the road until it is too late. Hope for the best but expect the worst as they say.

dave12
dave12
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul C

According to one paper the two latest polls put the union in the lead
,I’d say by democratic right there is no case for indref 2 ,that’s like asking for a second brexit ref , I think boris should be in no rush as the SNP recently are in self destruction mode and with the UK economy recovering I really dont care if the can is kicked down the road, time is on the BJ side.

Paul C
5 months ago
Reply to  dave12

I hope you are right. By kicking the can down the road I was referring to the need to explore the options for Trident now in case the worst does happen rather than IndyRef2 itself. I think the possibilities for Trident should be looked at asap as it is so critical to national security. Even if there is no legitimate case for IndyRef2 and Scotland would be shooting itself in both feet by voting for independence does not guarantee it will not happen. Dogma trumps logic where the SNP are concerned, that much is obvious.

John Stevens
John Stevens
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul C

Agree with you. Trident hugely important for security as you said, but also influence and having a say at the the table with the Big players.

dave12
dave12
5 months ago
Reply to  John Stevens

I reckon our subs would stay with the yanks facilities in the interim while we find other options if the SNP got independents.

John Stevens
John Stevens
5 months ago
Reply to  dave12

Yes, that’s certainly an option. Let’s hope Scotland does decide to stay in the Union, would save a heck of a lot of hassle if it did. That’s if there is a Indy Ref: 2. I think at some point in the future.. Scotland will go it alone. May not happen this time, but it will always be difficult to hold the Union together. Once Devolution is given to separate nations within a kingdom, that’s always asking for future complications, yup. We will see.. Gorgeous evening here! G&T time for me . Take care All ..

dave12
dave12
5 months ago
Reply to  John Stevens

Not when they realize the Scottish gov has a 15 billion deficit in taxes, and all the pro independent students realize they will have to pay for Universities like the rest of the UK, not too mention a limited NHS , harsh realities of independence.
Cheers.

Last edited 5 months ago by dave12
AlexS
AlexS
5 months ago
Reply to  dave12

I think it will be inevitable unless a major crisis appear in horizon that tames it. The political+media complex in Scotland are all for it.
What are the age structure of voters regarding Independence or Union?

Ham Russ
Ham Russ
5 months ago

Excuse my ignorance but if the Shetland & Orkneys decide not to go along with an independent Scotland, would basing them there be an option?

John
John
5 months ago

I get it would probably take up the entire defence budget for a number of years but would it not be possible to base the subs and missiles at an Overses Territory. Falklands or Ascension for example.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
5 months ago

Devonport had a submarine base until 2017. Why not resurrect it?
Or consider reviving the wartime sub base at Blyth, Northumberland – but I guess that would take some doing!