The promoters of the Scottish independence referendum, as enthusiasts of the so-called right to decide in other latitudes, usually put the emphasis of their political literature in the epic of victimhood and the poetry of a new dawn. But at the Govan Shipyard, located on The River Clyde in Edinburgh, the referendum scheduled for September 18 generates fear and uncertainty. Both facilities are the few who still build boats, thanks to a single client: the British Navy.
The British Minister of Defense, Philip Hammond, yesterday reminded in his speech to the employees of a Scottish plant of Thales, another enterprise of Defense which manufactures all the periscopes of the Royal Navy. With the exception of the world wars, all the ships of the British Navy have been built in the United Kingdom. Many of them in Scotland. «This policy is today billions of pounds in investment and holds thousands of direct and indirect jobs in Scotland,» said the Minister of Defense.
«Our Armed forces, coming from the four Nations of our Union, have shown time and again to be the best in the world,» claimed Hammond, which added as well to the strategy of the Government to preach the virtues of remaining united. However, Scotland has historically maintained a participation in the defense of the United Kingdom more than their demographic weight.
A visible commitment, especially in the case of the Navy. Scotland represents 9% of the population but nearly a third of the territory of some islands that serve as tone of the key pillars of naval defense. «As an island country, the United Kingdom depends on the Royal Navy to maintain a credible force in the sea, protect our interests and support the trade», recalled yesterday in ‘The Daily Telegraph’ Admiral Sir George Zambellas, head of the Navy, another of the voices that warns these days of the strategic implications of secession.
Next July 4, Queen Elizabeth II will preside over the launching at Rosyth for the new flagship of the British Navy, the aircraft carrier that bears her name. A powerful image, which will take place at ten weeks before the consultation convened by the Government that presided over by Alex Salmond.
Currently they have their base in Scottish waters, 16 ships and submarines, as well as two units of marines. But, without a doubt, the most sensitive aspect of this naval presence is the basis of deep water in Faslane, West of Glasgow. These facilities serve as a den for the four ‘Vanguard’ nuclear submarines that form the axis of the British nuclear «umbrella». The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) has clarified that, in the case of a victory of the ‘yes’, the military bases would remain open. But nuclear submarines would have to seek refuge elsewhere because Scotland is ‘nuclear free’. A scenario which, according to Zambellas, «will damage the core capabilities» of the Navy and «would weaken the security» of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.