1 Introduction |
1. In October 2011, we launched two inquiries
into the Referendum on Separation for Scotland. We have published
several Reports so far related to the first inquiry on the mechanics
and process of the referendum itself.
The second inquiry addresses the key substantive issues that need
to be addressed if the voters of Scotland would be able to make
an informed choice in any referendum, and in our 'Unanswered Questions'
Report, we identified six areas on which we would seek evidence:
the likely currency; Scotland's relationship with the EU; pensions
and social security; economics; citizenship and immigration; and
2. Defence is a fundamental responsibility of
a sovereign state and, as Professor Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor
of the History of War, All Souls College, Oxford, told us: "if
anything embodies what a state is and lies at the heart of a state's
identification, it is the armed forces and its capacity to defend."
Several witnesses into our inquiry commented on the vacuum of
discussion on how separation would affect defence in Scotland,
and in particular, the lack of developed thinking on how Scotland
would manage its defence needs if it became a separate country.
We think it is important to have an informed debate about how
a separate Scotland might create its own armed forces; and the
implications that might have for those who currently serve in,
and benefit from, the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force
3. This Report focuses on one specific, but important,
issue: The possible removal of the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrentTridentfrom
Scotland. We plan to return to other aspects of defence and Scotland,
including the size and basing of any Scottish army, air force,
navy and the possible future for HMNB Clydeknown as Faslaneand
the over 6,000 jobs that it currently supports,
in future Reports. We understand that our colleagues on the Defence
and the Foreign Affairs Committees will carry out their own inquiries
into how separation might impact upon related matters from the
UK's perspective. We visited Faslane and Coulport as part of this
inquiry and would like to thank all those who were involved in
making the visit possible.
The UK's nuclear deterrent
4. The UK's nuclear deterrent, Trident, has three
components: the submarines, the warheads, and the missiles. The
submarines are based at Faslane on the Gareloch, originally chosen
as a base for Trident's predecessor Polaris in the 1960s, and
the warheads are stored in Coulport on Loch Long. Coulport is
a Ministry of Defence Nuclear Authorised site, subject to regulation
by the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator and the Office of Nuclear
5. The missiles are carried in the Royal Navy's
four Vanguard-class nuclear powered submarines. Each submarine
can carry 16 Trident missiles and each missile can carry 12 warheads,
but since the 2010 Strategic Security and Defence Review, UK Government
policy has been to carry no more than 40 warheads per submarine.
Trident is a joint venture between the UK and the United States.
The UK has bought title to a number of D5 missiles in the stockpile,
maintained and stored in King's Bay Georgia.
The UK contributes £12 million a year to the US as part of
the running costs of this facility.
There are no missiles stored on land at Faslane or Coulport, although
there is the facility to do so if needed. The Trident D5 missile
lifespan is expected to end around 2042.
The warheads are owned by the UK, stored at Coulport and 'married'
with the missiles on a specially constructed 85,000 ton floating
dock. The warheads are transported to Atomic Weapons Establishment
(AWE) Burghfield, Berkshire, every three years to be overhauled.
6. The four Vanguard-class submarines operate
a three-part cycle: on patrol, undergoing maintenance, and providing
training. One armed submarine is on patrol at any one timeknown
as Continuous At Sea Deterrence (CASD)with a second submarine
available to go on patrol at short notice in case the one on patrol
is disabled. France
and the US both operate similar CASD regimes.
The submarines are based at Faslane but visit Devonport in England
regularly to undergo maintenance. In addition to being home to
the Vanguard submarines, Faslane is home to the Astute-class attack
submarines, and soon will be home to the Trafalgar-class attack
submarines, currently based at Devonport.
This will mean that by 2017 the whole Royal Navy submarine fleet
(all nuclear powered) will be based at Faslane,
along with eight Sandown-class Mine Counter Measure Vessels. (See
Annex 1). We were told that planning for this transfer, which
will increase the workforce to over 7,500 by 2022, is continuing
regardless of the referendum.
7. The current Vanguard-class submarines are
expected to be replaced by Successor starting in 2028,
the Vanguards being retired one by one in parallel as Successor
submarines come into service. The current Government is committed
to the renewal of the UK's nuclear deterrent and is expected to
make a decision on the number of new submarines required to maintain
CASD in 2016.
8. Replacing Trident will not be cheap. The previous
Government estimated the cost of replacing Vanguard at £20
billion£14 billion for four Successor submarines,
£3 billion for replacement or refurbished warheads and £3
billion for supporting infrastructure.
The present Government initiated a Trident Value for Money Review
which has suggested further savings, for example by reducing the
number of warheads on each submarine and thus the necessary size
of the stockpile,
but they still put the cost of the nuclear Successor programme
to be between £11 billion and £14 billion.
1 Eighth Report of Session 2010-12, The Referendum
on Separation for Scotland: Do you agree this is a biased question?,
HC 1492; Second Report of Session 2012-13, The Referendum on
Separation for Scotland: making the process legal, HC 542;
Third Report of Session 2012-13, The Referendum on Separation
for Scotland: a multi-option question, HC 543 Back
Sixth Report of Session 2010-12, The Referendum on Separation
for Scotland: Unanswered Questions, HC 1806 Back
Q 175 Back
Qq 338-339 Back
HC Deb, 16 February 2011 col 807W Back
Q 267; HC Deb, 30 January 2012 col 426W Back
The Future of the British Nuclear Deterrent, Research Paper
06/53, House of Commons Library, November 2006 Back
CND Scotland, Disarming Trident, June 2012 Back
Q 278 Back
Malcolm Chalmers, Continuous At-Sea Deterrence, costs and alternatives,
RUSI Briefing Note, July 2010 Back
HC Deb, 6 May 2009, col 16ws Back
Q 321 Back
Qq 322-325 Back
The UK's Future Nuclear Deterrent: The Submarine Initial Gate
Parliamentary Report, May 2011 Back
Ministry of Defence, SDSR Fact Sheet 10, Trident Value for
Money Review. See also Q 1115-the main decision to go ahead
with Trident was July 1980 and the first submarine became operational
in December 1994. Back
Ministry of Defence, The Future of the United Kingdom's Nuclear
Deterrent, 2006 Back
Ministry of Defence, SDSR Fact Sheet 10, Trident Value for Money
PQ answered by Peter Luff. HC Deb, 11 June 2012, col 115W. Other
figures have been quoted: "Top military chiefs go cold on
nuclear deterrent", The Independent, 26 September
2012, quoted £15 billion to £20 billion; and "After
Trident: a well-made argument in a necessary debate", The
Guardian, 27 September 2012, quoted £25 billion. Back