The reason for Faslane, officially known as HMNB Clyde, hosting the UK’s nuclear submarines is often the subject of conspiracy theories, but what is the reality?

Faslane was first constructed and used as a base in World War II. During the 1960s as the Government began negotiating the Polaris Sales Agreement with the United States, the submarines carrying these nuclear weapons were to be based at Faslane.

Faslane itself was chosen to host these vessels at the height of the Cold War because of its geographic position, which forms a bastion on the relatively secluded but deep and easily navigable Gare Loch and Firth of Clyde on the west coast of Scotland.

The position of the base provides for rapid and stealthy access through the North Channel to the submarine patrolling areas in the North Atlantic, something that can’t be replicated by a base further south or on another coast. The frequent cloud cover also offers a great advantage for submarines coming and going.

HMS AMBUSH and HMS TRIUMPH berthed alongside Valiant Jetty HMNB Clyde.

Faslane is the second biggest single-site employer in Scotland, after the new Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow which employs around 11,000 staff.

Direct employment at the base is currently around 6,500 with many more thousands dependent on the base for jobs through the supply chain. It is understood that around 11,000 are directly and indirectly reliant on the base.

All 11 Royal Navy submarines will be based on the Clyde at Faslane from 2020, seeing the number of people directly employed at the base rising to 8,200.

In addition to the nuclear submarines, the base is home to 10 conventional surface vessels of the Sandown class mine countermeasure and Archer class patrol vessel fleets.

The annual spend generated by the base in the local area and the wider region is estimated to be more than £270 million per year.

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Peter Henessey’s ‘Cabinets & The Bomb’ covers the discussions about where to base the Polaris subs –
quite a few places along the west coast, including in England & Wales were considered.


“During the 1960s as the Government began negotiating the Polaris Sales Agreement with the United States, the submarines carrying these nuclear weapons were to be based at Faslane.”

But in the 60s we had Troy Tempest and Stingray:

[…] post Why are the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines based on the Clyde in Scotland? appeared first on UK Defence […]


Because if Sturgeon it would go.


Sturgeon’s recent vist to Brussels should sound alarm bell in the MOD. She is not giving off the right vibes to encourage UK military investment in Scotland. Her constant references to another vote appear to demonstrate that she is not overly concerned if it stays or goes? Before any serious new infrastructure gets underway at Faslane, Westminster needs the Scotish parliament to give assurances that it won’t order the closure of this facility; for at least thirty years and not five as previously stated, if independence is achieved. Without that, I would look for another UK site with immediate effect.… Read more »

Henry Hooper

Agreed. Except for Tory voters, the Scottish voters of all the other parties (>70% of electorate) don’t want them. Given Brexit, a future Yes vote is highly likely. Put simply Scots don’t want them..its only 20 miles west of Glasgow! and they’re unaffordable. Incidentally, figures released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) under freedom of information law reveal that there’s only 520 civilian jobs at Faslane and Coulport near Helensburgh are directly dependent on Trident…….the figures herein are vastly exaggerated. These jobs have nothing to with the Highlands..the highlands are in the north of Scotland. There’s plenty of other appropriate… Read more »


I worked at the Faslane in 2011, I assure you many thousands of decent Scots work at that base. Thousands, not hundreds.


I’d move them to Belfast. Support for secession from the UK is much lower there (about 30%), whatever Remainers insist. It’s actually fallen since the GFA – even amongst Catholics.

I’d also be not so stupid as put all of our subs in one place. Even if there are only a 11 of them (truly astounding it’s that few).


Behave yourself, putting nuclear submarines and weapons in Belfast is a terrible idea mate, that would fuel Irish nationalism, it’s already a tool for Scottish nationalists. And I’m pretty sure it would break the demilitarisation part of the good Friday agreement. And that 30% is not telling the full story at all The lates polling shows 48% support staying in the EU trough reunification if it’s a hard Brexit. Also the latest yougov poll over here says that 36% of British people think leaving the EU is more of a priority than keeping Northern Ireland in the United Kingdom (29%).… Read more »


The downward trend of support for independence is long-term research and analysis over many years by Queen’s University. Polling by companies is what told us Remain would win comfortably two years ago. I know which I trust. I don’t believe the Northern Irish will suddenly switch allegiance just because a few subs are parked in Belfast along with ten thousand jobs. So a few Nationalists will whine. Won’t make any difference to anything. No such thing as “hard” Brexit. We leave or we don’t. The UK voted to leave, and in my experience the people of Northern Ireland have largely… Read more »


“The downward trend of support for independence is long-term research and analysis over many years by Queen’s University. Polling by companies is what told us Remain would win comfortably two years ago. I know which I trust.” You do realise the research done by QUB is based on every poll and survey taken from the late 19th century ? It’s a bit more than “a few subs parked” isn’t it though, and like I said before, part of the good Friday agreement is demilitarisation of NI by both sides, building a naval base to accommodate 7 nuclear attack submarines and… Read more »

Stephen G.

The last thing we want is to break up the U.K. That would be absolute madness, to break up our already small enough country into tiny, irrelevant little countries. We must never let that happen. Together we are the equal of a France or a Germany.


Faslane will soon house the aircraft carriers, destroyers and SSNs of the Scottish Navy


You mean the row boats of a Scottish navy.

Andy G

I’m sure we would allow the hunter killers there.


In all seriousness, has to be the most beautiful setting of any naval base in Europe? Wonder if Norway has something that tops it actually…

Gerry G

Yeah ! try being there during the winter months

Robert Blay

Not in January it isn’t 😄

Henry Hooper
Henry Hooper

There will be a lot more jobs than the current 520 jobs if Trident were to ever leave and it was (as flagged by the Nats) as a future Scottish Naval Base

Simon Devany

If there on about another try at on independance then the uk government needs to start preparations to secure a second site. If this means the lose of jobs then so be it. We need to keep uk safe. Scotland go it alone would put uk navy ship building and submarine operations at risk.

barry white

I think it’s about time to shut Sturgeon up and call her bluff
There’s a £100 million upgrade going on up there to that base so why not stop it until the result of the indy ref she is proposing
Stop the ships being built on the Clyde
And also stop the upgrade to Losemouth
Stop until the result of the ref she is determined to have
PS Im not anti Scottish honest

Evan P

Because that would be to the detriment of the security of everyone, not just Sturgeon.

Alan Reid

Hi Barry, I think you’re “bigging-up” Ms Sturgeon. She leads a minority administration in Holyrood, with its powers devolved by a Westminster parliament which includes Scottish MPs of Conservative, Labour and Lib-Dem hue. There is a diversity of opinion in Scotland over independence, and poling indicates Ms Sturgeon does not speak for the majority of Scots. Policies which you’re advocating would be hugely controversial, and simply alienate the majority unionist vote in Scotland – and be exploited by the nationalist community. Indeed they could be a potential game-changer; supporters of the union might begin to feel minority SNP support was… Read more »


Well said Alan


That’s why I advocate a thirty-year retention compact to keep the Faslane base in Scotland. To remove the Nukes from the independence debate, does not necessarily weaken Sturgeon’s aims. There are other key issues she is identifying, which should keep her flame for independence alight. A thirty-year agreement is good for the local Scotish economy, and therefore common sense should prevail?

John Pattullo

in the event of independent scotland would the rest of the uk really want its nukes and all its subs in a foreign country?


Foreign is a cold term and I don’t, and won’t accept Scotland as a ‘FOREIGN’ country. I believe the union will still be there even with independence, and don’t see any real issues with regard to the subs being based in that country. Whatever happens, we are still joined at the hip!


Indeed Alan. And to be honest even if it does increase support for Indy I don’t want it, as after Indy we will want to have good relations, and co-operation, both sides of the border.

May and her antics are, of course, quite acceptable 🙂


Oh come on, we all know that the only reason the English nuclear submarines are kept in Faslane is because Westminster hates the Scottish people and doesn’t want to store them down south where they might threaten the health and safety of English people. You know, exactly the same reason why we make the nuclear warheads down the road from The Queen’s house and 20 million English people in, er, the south of England.

You’re such a tool of Westminster.

Tosh mcshane

Your jist a tool

Levi Goldsteinberg

This has me confused to be honest

Andy G

Not on this board pal, its futile.


Plus Fleet HQ at Northwood, RAF Command bunker at High Wycombe (3rd on Soviet UK target list) etc


The downward trend of support for independence is long-term research and analysis over many years by Queen’s University. Polling by companies is what told us Remain would win comfortably two years ago. I know which I trust. I don’t believe the Northern Irish will suddenly switch allegiance just because a few subs are parked in Belfast along with ten thousand jobs. So a few Nationalists will whine. Won’t make any difference to anything. No such thing as “hard” Brexit. We leave or we don’t. The UK voted to leave, and in my experience the people of Northern Ireland have largely… Read more »


Well this is annoying. If when posting a reply you forget to check the box, and hit back on the browser, it disconnects your comment from the one you were replying to.

Nathan Dale

Are there not overseas territories where we could build a resilience naval base? Some rugged half abandoned island or peninsula a thousand miles from anywhere?


falklands are perfect


Not really, the fallback position of the Falklands are that they go Independent to stay out of Argentina’s clutches (kind of discussed obliquely by am HoC Select Committee back in around 2012 or before. And that would then at the very least, be against the NNPT. It’s also South Atlantic and far from the madding crowds!


That wasn’t a serious comment by the way


Sorry 🙂 My irony tank was running low, needs a topup.


I think one of the reasons was geography in an aerial sense, in that being surrounded by hills would make bomb runs more problematic. Not a problem these days. Also the availability of a close by relatively unused glen for land-based silos, and extensive storage. Also not a problem now since the demise of the WE-177 and Vulcans. Cloud cover would also be totally meaningless, with open borders since the 90s, there’s probably so many “observers” that alone contributes to the local economy substantially. Anyway, “they” can read it on twitter and get photos from there. In reply to other… Read more »

Stephen G.

It would be absolute madness to break our small island up into tiny, separate countries. All talk of this has to be put to bed, it is extremely divisive for our country. Together we form Britain, a major European country, every bit the equal of a France or Germany. In the future we all need to get behind a support Britain, our great nation.


I have two countries currently Stephen, Scotland and the UK and I wish both well. After Independence I will have one country Scotland, but still wish the rUK well, as it will be our next-door neighbour.

Just turn the music up loud enough so I can hear it clearly please.

John Hampson

After reading Red Storm Rising I often wondered if the UK SSBN’s turned left not right exiting the Clyde and loitered (or plan to) in the Irish Sea. 100m+ deep.


Ah well, another speculation could be that the boat leaving Faslane is not the actual going on duty boat. But shush, don’t tell them about that one.


deep waters and hard to track works both ways. I wonder what sort of defences they have around the base. I assume at least some decent sonar coverage and anti sub mines.

Daniele Mandelli

Anti diver nets I think.

Andy G

I would hope there are srtings of sensors covering various routes.


Remember. If Scotland goes independent then it will be entitled to 9% of the fleet. Couple of type 23 or 31and a bunch on opv for large fishery job…. Batch 1?


I’m sure we could come to some arrangement for the Batch 2s and a few Type31s. The RN could then order more of the latter.

John Clark

Good point Rob, 9% of the fleet you say.

Well, in the event of Scotland going completely insane and leaving the union, my response would be:
A, declare Faslane a sovereign base area
B, transfer the decommissioned Swiftsure class boats to Scotland … 5 boats is a generous 9%.


An independent Scotland would have very little interest in defence and security matters imho. I couldn’t stand keeping up with all the independence for and against arguments post 2014, but the last I checked there was a debate within the SNP itself about whether Scotland would even want to apply to join NATO. The newly independent government would be much more likely to use defence assets as a negotiation tool to lower its share of debt obligations, for example. That could mean either a renunciation of claims to any of the surface fleet (excluding the OPVs, which I imagine would… Read more »


Interesting views. Don’t forget the GIUK cap becomes the GIS gap, and there will still be bear flights or similar around Scotland, various Russian warships to escort, handed over from Norway to us to the rUK, so fast jets, ASW and anti-ship will be needed. The SNP decided by 52% to 48% in 2013 after a fierce debate at the autumn conference to change from Partners for Peace membership, to full NATO membership which means in theory the defence budget would need to be 2% by 2024, though currently I think it’s just over half the current membership actually have… Read more »

Mr Bell

If Scotland votes for independence there will not just be military repercussions. I doubt rest of the UK will allow a newly independent Scotland to retain use of Sterling. In fact I have already written twice to my English MP demanding that in any vote for independence we the rest of the UK do not allow Scotland to use our currency. Any independent country without its own currency is a junk country and will be treated as such on the financial markets. The move of subs and nuclear deterrent will have to be partially paid for by Scotland I am… Read more »


Scotland already said if Westminster did not allow them to keep the pound they would not take their share of the debt.

Scotland has been contributing and been part of sterling since the union of the crowns in 1604, you can’t expect them to take the bad parts of the union (debts) and not have the good parts (currency)

Why would you want to hurt them by not being allowed to use sterling, just because of a democratic decision to become independent?


‘Why would you want to hurt them by not being allowed to use sterling, just because of a democratic decision to become independent?’

Because it would tie the rest of the UK to the economic fortunes of Scotland. Why should we put ourselves at such risk in such circumstances, particularly as Scotland can’t afford to be independent as things stand. Unlike when Osborne was spouting the lie in 2010 ‘that we’d be like Greece’, Scotland actually would, being totally beholden to its neighbour’s much larger economy and the Treasury.


The only way to stop any country using sterling is to end it being a reserve currency, stop it being a fully convertible currency, and impose currency controls. There endeth the City of London, and probably about 15% of the rUK’s GDP.

The rest of your anti-Scottish rant I ignore. If a majority of people in the rUK thought like you, then that WOULD destroy NATO.


Fascinating to read of the anti Scottish bigotry on here and the usual Little Englander nonsense which accompanies it.


It’s astounding that so many English people hell bent on leaving the EU don’t, won’t or can’t see the parallels between their arguments and the those that were pushed by the SNP etc in the lead up to 2014 (democratic control and lack of democratic accountability, national sovereignty, national economic revitalisation etc etc)


Yaaawn, more piffle and bluster from the Muppet!

Mr Bell

There are no parrells between EU vote and Scottish independence vote. We never had over 150 years of peaceful union and membership of the EU. As a nation we had never voted to join a EU federal superstate. When we were asked if that membership was what we wanted we exercised our democratic vote to leave said federal superstate. Scotland is welcome to have its vote. Go ahead. But we then have a right as the rest of the UK to then make sure if Scotland departs the UK that this is done in a correct manner All armed forces… Read more »


Give me time and I could literally find you a parallel quote from someone on the Scottish nationalist side of things for every single thing you’ve just stated there….Your “never voted to join” would be something akin to their chattering about the Acts of Union being forced upon them. Your “all forces move south” would be something like “all oil revenues stay North”. BREXIT isn’t going to revitalise the North of England or English industry, it’s not going to drop your ridiculous house prices or expand access to mortgages, and it isn’t going to stop your demographic transition. Just like… Read more »


“Scotland take a share of the national debt
Use of Sterling would be for the rest of the UK to consent to.”

Do you listen to what anybody says, If the rest of the UK don’t consent to Scotland using the currency it’s been part of for over half a millennia then it won’t take its share of the national debt, it’s not hard to understand.


I repeat – keep Sterling and you won’t be independent.

John Clark

Here here Mr Bell


‘we exercised our democratic vote to leave said federal superstate’

Hmmm…… how many hundreds of millions for the NHS was it ? People, seeing the consequences of leaving the ‘federal superstate’, have now changed their minds ?


I have no particular opinion on the merits or otherwise of independence for Scotland. However. If it were to occur then it would be on an equal pro rats share of everything subject to the inevitable horse trading. Debt. Military hardware. (Army, naval, airforce) , govt IP in technology developed etc etc as well as use of currency. (interestingly scottish sterling notes carry a different category of legal standing to the BofE notes.) A strategy for a scottish treasury may be to simply take the 9%*of everything and then monetise much of those assets on the secondary market and simply… Read more »


Wow, a posting I can agree with heart and soul. In my view there need to be two levels of talk in the event of a YES vote. One clearly between politicians, but the more important one between sefence bods on both sides whose sole interest is in maximising the defences of Scotland + rUK to make it as near the equivalent of the UK as now, and maybe even better if there is some diversification of emphasis relevant to the geography and even political standing of the different governments – for instance it is possible an iScotland might co-operate… Read more »

John Clark

Come along now guys, we have had the Scottish referendum and the answer was to stay in…..

We then voted as the UK to leave the EU…. End of.

Its called democracy, just because the minority didn’t get what they want, they jump up and down and throw their toys out of the pram!

Suck it up and move on….

Daniele Mandelli



Well Daniele, we do have the technology to keep the UK as it is forever, though it could do with a bit of up-dollying. So we could have clones that age fast to a certain age then mature at a regular rate. There’s May and Corbyn, they’d be 40 year old youngsters. Arlene Foster you could make 30 years old. David could be pre-trained as an expert in snookering himself, and of course we’d try a 14 year old Boris to see if anyone noticed the difference. And after 10 years having learnt a few lessons, we do the reclone… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli


OK Dads, Ok.


Presumably you’d be in favour of establishing the Conservatives in a permanenet government, and cancelling all future General Elections. The UK could even make it a family affair, and aim for a 5,000 year dyanasty.

John Clark

The thing is Dads Army, if you read down some of the comments on here, some people really seem to have forgotten that they already had two referendums, one to leave the UK and and one to leave the EU

Both done and settled, legally and definitively. They seen to have rejected the Democratic process and that’s a really sad thing for our democracy.


The thing is John Clark that there have been two referendums, one the result was to stay in the UK which was in the EU by 55% to 45%, bit some people really seem to have forgotten that the the other result was to stay in the EU by 62% to 38%, but because of a 11 to 1 vote ratio, the result is overruled by the wishes of the rest of the UK. But Scotland voted 62% to remain in the EU, so there is a Democratic contradiction. And it’s as simple as that, whether or not the SNP… Read more »

John Clark

Well I don’t see how Democratic snow blindness helps to be honest… Scotland is part of the Union, ( vote number 1) as we all are,. We all voted in the EU referendum and we voted to leave as the British Isles. ( vote number 2). I can’t understand the refusal to except the Democratic process by some elements, both in Scotland and regarding the wider EU vote. The Scottish first Minister has a country to deal with, but unfortunately, constantly trying to overturn the Democratic process and keep talking referendums, is only serving to undermine her own political base… Read more »


As you said earlier:

“A, declare Faslane a sovereign base area
B, transfer the decommissioned Swiftsure class boats to Scotland … 5 boats is a generous 9%.”

Threatening to annex – colonise – a part of another country’s land, and dump a load of toxic readioactive Submarines on it, is hardly likely to “bind us together in these British Isles”.

Personally I wouldn’t want to annex a part of the British Isles that didn’t belong to my country, or dump our radioactive or toxic waste on say England, and I guess that’s what “makes us different”.

John Clark

Come on Dad’s Army, surely you can see that comment was a joke!

Please feel free to counter my points in the previous post though…

In what way is what I said not hard facts? The last time I checked, democracy was about the will of the majority, challenge that basic fact and it’s a slippery slope for us all!


I already did. Scotland voted 62% to remain in the EU, but 55% to remain in the UK which is leaving the EU, so there’s a Democratic inconsistency which can only be resolved by another democratic Referendum. Anyway, this thread is supposed to be about nuclear submarines on the Clyde. Which in the event of Independence would clearly be better moved out of Scotland, but to allow time and decrease the overall cost of new basing and relocation, should, by agreement between both parties, be done over a 10 year term. For which of course the rUK would probably pay… Read more »