“Independence will lead to big job losses at Faslane and West Dunbartonshire”. No, it won’t.

With it’s location it’s almost certain Faslane would be Scotland’s main naval base with the same or greater employment at the base, through the supply chain and the local economy.

At a glance

As part of the UK: SSBNs, MCMs and patrol boats at Faslane total 14 vessels now. With the SSNs in 2020 – 21. 3 MCM decomissioned (by 2025) down to 18 vessels.

As Independent Scotland: navy minimum 20 vessels with 50% more footprint, over half the tonnage, only about 16% less complement (crew), the base itself would need to be same size and jobs just for the navy. That doesn’t  include onshore training, marines, army amphib, or as the SDF HQ. Neither case includes small support vessels – tugs etc.

10th Oct 2017 – this is a draft page, based on data, but not as a definitive source!

No  Type      Complement   Tonnes      length     beam   area
Current  fleet (2017)
4   Vanguard SSBN  135     15,900      149.9m    12.8m   1920
7   Sandown MCM     34        600       52.5m    10.9m    570
3   Archer Patrol   12         54       20.8m     5.8m    120
    Total (2017)   800
+Future fleet (2020)
7   Astute SSN      98      7,200       97.0m    11.3m   1100
-Decommission 3 Sandown (by 2025)
-3  Sandown MCM    -34       -600                        -570
18  Total (2025)  1400    120,000                      20,000 sq mts

From Scottish Enterprise Dunbartonshire EKOS report (2017 ?) + MOD for Trident only

Trident civilian employees    520
RN Personnel                3,500
Contractors                 1,700
Other civilians             1,600
Supply chain and economy    4,000
Extra for Astute from 2020  1,700

Faslane is also a NATO support base and home to Joint Warrior. Note that though Faslane is their home port, 2 Sandown are based in Bahrain on a 3 year cycle (with 2 Hunt from Portsmouth), and 3 are expected to be decommissioned by 2025.

Cost and benefit (from EKOS)

Scotland’s ‘share’ of Trident is around £163 million a year and 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, including spending by the 6,500 personnel based at Faslane in the local economy, and 4,000 jobs through the supply chain and local economy. [Note that this is presumably based on the current Faslane fleet]

Illustrative SDF (Scottish Defence Force), based loosely for numbers on 2/3rd Denmark’s current fleet, Denmark having 5.7 million population compared to Scotland at 5.4 million, but roughly a 25% higher GDP. Also on Norway. The likes of dredgers, tugs, tenders and pilots are not included in either list.

No  Type      Complement   Tonnes      length     beam   area
4   Frigates       150      6,500      140.0m    20.0m   2800
1   Lg Deck amphib 160     15,000      170.0m    32.0m   5440
4   OPV             20      2,000       90.0m    13.0m   1170
3   Patrol          12        250       45.0m     8.0m    360
5   MCM             30        600       52.5m    10.9m    570
1   Auxiliary       110     15,000      160.0m    23.0m   3680
1   Survey          10        100       30.0m     6.5m    190
1   Training ship   20        100
20  Totals       1,170     68,000                      30,000 sq mts

Note that there’s a need for MCM for NATO standing groups, but if the frigates or OPVs had an MCM capability there would be a specialist complement increase on them, with a vessel and their complement drop, as no more than 2 or 3 MCMs would be needed.

It’s also likely Faslane + Coulport would be the HQ for the SDF, with army with amphib based around, and this rough guide includes no Subs, unlike Norway. Plus marines.

There would be a transitional stage of perhaps 10 years while the SSBNs moved elsewhere in the UK, so some overlapping would make employment levels higher or at least the same, and with the 3 Sandowns planned to be gone by 2025, direct navy comparisons once the Royal Navy is completely gone are therefore 1,400 complement on 18 vessels with Scotland in the UK, compared to 1,170 on 20 with the SDF.

So basically there’s about 16% less complement, but 20 vessels instead of 18. So taking into account that the base is still the base, supplies are still supplies, guards, police, gardeners, decorators, concessions on base, accomodation and cleaners, you’d see at most a 10% drop using complement (crew) and vessels as a basis, and non-proportional overheads, and more like 5% or even no drop.

The conclusion is that, overall, employment and economic benefit would not be affected long-term for purely naval operations from the upscaled 2020/2025 position, but during transition of Faslane from SSBN to conventional SDF, would likely be considerably higher, including contracted construction to adapt the base. The SDF HQ and army amphib involvement would increase the level overall in the area, even taking into account the planned move of the SSNs to Faslane, and then away again.