Page last updated at 16:44 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 17:44 UK

Nuclear sub fleet moved to Clyde

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The move to Faslane will start in about five years time

The Faslane naval base on the Clyde is to become the dedicated home for the UK's entire nuclear-powered submarine fleet.

The move is part of a major shake-up of the Royal Navy announced by the Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth.

Trafalgar class submarines, currently based at Devonport in Plymouth, will begin joining the Vanguard fleet based at Faslane in about five years time.

The SNP said Scots did not want more nuclear submarines on the Clyde.

The next generation of frigates will be based at the Portsmouth Naval Base.

Three Trafalgar class submarines will transfer to Faslane from Devonport, with the last of these moving in 2017 on current plans.

They will serve alongside the Faslane-based Vanguard class which are armed with Trident nuclear missiles.

A successor class of Future Deterrent submarines will eventually replace the Vanguard class at Faslane.

The new Astute class boats are also to be based on the Clyde when they enter service.

We undertook this extensive review to ensure that we match the infrastructure in place at the naval bases to the needs of the Royal Navy of the future
Bob Ainsworth
Armed Forces Minister

Mr Ainsworth said that, subject to Ministry of Defence (MoD) investment decisions, Portsmouth would be home to the new class of frigates, known as the Future Surface Combatant (FSC).

Devonport will remain the dedicated home for the amphibious fleet and survey vessels, along with a force of Royal Marines landing craft and personnel.

Mr Ainsworth said: "We undertook this extensive review to ensure that we match the infrastructure in place at the naval bases to the needs of the Royal Navy of the future.

"The changes we have announced will enable us to provide that support more efficiently by reducing overheads and excess infrastructure."

He added: "By making Faslane the sole operating base for our submarines earlier than we had originally envisaged, we will build on the base's strengths and reduce duplication of facilities.

"Importantly, a single base for the submarine flotilla will provide more stability long-term for submarine service personnel but I must stress that there will be no base porting changes for around five years, in order to ensure we give our service personnel proper notice of these changes."

Scottish National Party defence spokesman Angus Robertson told BBC Scotland's Newsdrive programme: "People are happy to support conventional naval forces and in that regard Faslane has a tremendous future.

"But public opinion in Scotland, the view of the Scottish Government, of the Scottish Parliament, the trade unions, the churches - we don't want more nuclear submarines on the Clyde."

Mr Robertson highlighted safety concerns raised by recent details of radioactive coolant leaks into the River Clyde, three times between 2004 and 2008.

'Union dividend'

Naval Base Commander Clyde Commodore Chris Hockley said: "There is a very positive outlook for Clyde Naval Base and we look forward to developing our specialisation as the sole operating base for the submarine fleet and base for eight mine warfare ships.

"I am pleased to be able to provide certainty about the future for our people, for Babcock, our industrial partner, and for the Navy under these plans.

"The base is an integral part of the community here and these plans demonstrate that this will continue for many years to come."

HMNB Clyde spends more than £250m a year in Scotland.

The Scottish Labour Party welcomed the news that Faslane is to host the UK's entire nuclear-powered submarine fleet.

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie, whose constituency includes the base on the Clyde, said: "This is vote of confidence for all the hard working staff at Faslane.

"For the entire submarine operation to be based at Faslane is a tribute to the quality of the operation there.

"This is very much the union dividend in action. This investment will not just sustain existing jobs but will result in hundreds of new jobs which is great for the local economy and better news for Scotland."



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SEE ALSO
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MoD reveals nuclear sub incidents
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Faslane 'vital' to UK's defence
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Call to 'invest' Trident funding
26 Jan 08 |  Glasgow, Lanarkshire and West

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