Britain's Trident nuclear submarine bases at Faslane and Coulport on the Clyde will in future be run by private companies, the Ministry of Defence has disclosed.

The ministry has signed a 15-year contract with AWE, the consortium which already operates the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston in Berkshire, where nuclear warheads are designed and maintained. Additional contracts have been signed with Babcock and Lockheed Martin, part of a new consortium to be known as the ABL Alliance.

The consortium will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the Clyde bases, according to officials. The MoD will rely increasingly on skilled and specialist staff from outside the ministry, they added. The ministry and the navy face a shortage of skilled personnel as existing specialists retire.

As part of the agreement, 149 MoD civilian posts will be transferred, and 39 Royal Navy posts seconded, to the ABL Alliance, the MoD says.

In a reference to Aldermaston, it describes the new agreement as "a natural extension of [the companies'] current role in supporting the nuclear warhead carried by our Trident missiles".

The AWE at Aldermaston is run by a consortium of Jacobs Engineering Group, Lockheed Martin UK and Serco, which have a 25-year contract to operate it until March 2025.

The deal covering the Trident bases on the Clyde comes as the MoD presses ahead with ambitious and controversial outsourcing plans. Its move to privatise the multibillion-pound agency that provides the armed forces with military equipment were criticised by a leading security thinktank for being ill thought-out and potentially dangerous for British troops.

"History is littered with outsourcing deals that either or both parties eventually find constraining and/or, in practice, more expensive," said the Royal United Services Institute report. "After the G4S and Olympics episode, the privatisation of the railways is the most obvious example of this, but there are many others."

It said the outsourcing plan suffered "from an inherent weakness, since it appears to rest on an argument that, because the government is not very good at negotiating and managing contracts with the private sector, it is going to negotiate an even bigger contract with a private-sector entity to undertake the entire task on its behalf. Persuasive arguments against this logic need to be marshalled."

The MoD says it engaged "extensively" with trade unions about the Trident bases contract, which is intended to come into force in January 2013

Rare behind-the-scenes look at the spiritual home of the Submarine Service 14/08/2012
There's a rare chance to see behind closed doors at Fort Blockhouse in Gosport next month as the RN Submarine Museum celebrates its hidden heritage.
We are really delighted to have the support of Fort Blockhouse for the behind-the-scenes tours and be able to hold a special BSL tour of our own historic HMS Alliance Bill Sainsbury, the Submarine Museum's event manager
.On Saturday September 8, you can tour Fort Blockhouse and the Submarine Escape Training Tank (SETT), while the following day a British Signed Language (BSL) tour of HMS Alliance has been organized for those who have trouble hearing.

Blockhouse occupies what was once the site of HMS Dolphin, the spiritual home of the Royal Navy’s Submarine Service for most of the first 100 years of the Silent Service until it closed in 1999.

Led by a retired ‘deep’, the tour of the site will include a visit to the submariners’ memorial chapel, a look at the 19th Century ramparts, the officers’ mess to see its Wyllie paintings and – new for this year – a visit to the Submarine Escape Training Tower, where submariners have been trained to escape for more than half a century.

The British Signed Language tour of Alliance will be led by a veteran submariner guide and translated into BSL.

The boat, which was built for service in the Far East at the end of WW2 and served throughout the first half of the Cold War, is in the middle of a £6.75m conservation project.

Bill Sainsbury, the Submarine Museum’s event manager, said:

"We are really delighted to have the support of Fort Blockhouse for the behind-the-scenes tours and be able to hold a special BSL tour of our own historic HMS Alliance.”

Heritage Open Days tickets are free but must be booked in advance either online at or by calling the Royal Navy Submarine Museum on 023 92545036.

For more information visit

A Reminder……………….Shiver me timbers me hearty!!!!!

Just a reminder as to what the Royal Navy used to be
I remember standing on the foc'sle on a Morning watch weighing anchor with the smell of the North Wind whipping in from ahead and the taste of salt spray on my lips.
The feel of the ship beneath me, a living thing as her engines drive her through the sea.
The sounds of the Royal Navy, the piercing trill of the boatswains call, the clang of the ships bell, the harsh squawk of the main broadcast Tannoy and the strong language and laughter of sailors at work.
The warships, sleek destroyers, fussing frigates, plodding fleet auxiliaries, menacing submarines, purposeful mine hunters and steady solid carriers.
The proud names of the Royal Navy's capitol ships, ARK ROYAL, EAGLE, LION and TIGER. The descriptive names of destroyers, DARING, BATTLEAXE, CAVALIER, and frigates, ACTIVE, UNDAUNTED, VIGILANT to name just a few.
The military beat of the Royal Marine Band blaring on the upper deck as we entered harbour in Procedure Alpha.
The pipe "Liberty men fall in" and the spicy scent and sights of a foreign port.
Going ashore in No 1 uniform to meet the ladies and visit the watering holes of these foreign ports.
My mates, men from all parts of the land, from city and country alike and all walks of life, I depended on them as they depended on me for professional competence, comradeship, trust and courage, in a word we were shipmates, a band of brothers.
A loud game of Uckers in the evening with my messmates.
My shipmate slinging my Mick (hammock) for me coming aboard after a run ashore, knowing that I would do the same for him.
The surge of adventure in my heart when the calls of "Special Sea Dutymen close up" or "Away seaboats crew" were piped.
The absolute joy of hearing the call "Up Spirits" in anticipation of your daily tot of rum.
The sudden adrenalin rush when the "Action Stations" alarm blared, followed by the clamour of running feet on ladders and the resounding thump of watertight doors and hatches being shut as the ship transformed herself from a peaceful home to a deadly weapon of war ready for anything.
The atmosphere of the ship in the darkness of night, the dim red glow of the nightlights and the navigation lights. Standing on the quarterdeck as "Lifebuoy Ghost" (sentry) watching the sparkling phosphorescence from the screws as they constantly pushed tons of water astern of the ship, carrying us to our next destination.
The "Watch on Deck" on a balmy tropical night in the South China sea watching the glorious sunset, and flying fish gliding for amazing distances across the surface of the sea, with some landing inboard.
Drifting off to sleep in a hammock, lulled by the myriad of noises large and small that told me that my ship is alive and well and that my shipmates were on watch and keeping me safe.
The aroma from the galley during the Morning Watch. Cheesy, Hammy, Eggy, Train Smash, Sh*t on a Raft and Figgy Duff.
The wholesome taste of kai (very thick cocoa) during the middle watch on a cold, dark winters night.
The sound of the bow slicing through the mirror calm of the sea and the frolicking of dolphins as they darted in and out of the bow wave.
Watching the ships wake disappearing back towards the horizon knowing that it will be gone in a short time and being aware of the fact that we were not the first or will not be the last to leave our mark on the water.
The state of the art equipment and the orange glow of radar screens manned by young men in anti-flash gear using sound powered phones that their grandfathers would still recognise.
The infectious feeling of excitement as we returned home again, the hugs and kisses of welcome from sweethearts, family and friends.
The work was hard and dangerous, the going rough at times, the parting from loved ones painful but the robust Royal Navy comradeship, the all for one and one for all philosophy of the sea was ever present.
The traditions of the Royal Navy and the men who made them and the heroism of the men who sailed in the ships of yesteryear.
Now that I am home I still remember with fondness and respect the sea in all its moods from the shimmering mirror calm of the tropics to the storm tossed waters of the North Atlantic, the bright colours of the White Ensign snapping at the yardarm, the sound of hearty laughter.
I am ashore for good now and grow wistful about my Royal Navy days, when I was young and a new adventure was ever over the horizon.
Stamped on my brain is my Official Number and an anchor where my heart is.
Numbers will never be the same again:
Uniforms: Number 1s 2s 3s 8s 10s 10As
Punishments: Number 9s, 14s
Even as times change, and young matelots take over from old seadogs, some things will never change.
The old days were always harder.
The recruits always looked younger.
Official Numbers were always smaller.
The waves were always bigger.
The girls were as good looking in Pompey (Portsmouth) as they were in Guzz (Devonport).
Your last ship was always the best.
If I haven't been there, it doesn't exist - or we blew it off the map.
Only a sailor knows, I was a sailor once and I know.
I look back and realise it was not just a job, it was a way of life. A life where shipmates were a family never to be forgotten.
I was part of the Royal Navy and the Royal Navy will always be part of me.



It was dark, in the early hours, and the sea was freezing as Her Majesty's Submarine Conqueror came to periscope depth. Her captain, Christopher Wreford-Brown, had been stalking his target methodically, a hunter in pursuit of wary prey. There she was, 1,000 yards ahead, slow-moving, seemingly unaware of the submarine coming up on her tail. Gathered around Commander Wreford-Brown in the darkened operations room, officers and men waited in silence, inner tension masked by outward calm. It was 1982 and this was the real thing.
HMS Conqueror is famous, some would say notorious, for sinking the Argentinian cruiser General Belgrano. The nuclear-powered attack submarine, a type also known menacingly as a hunter-killer, that year became the first of her kind to fire in anger. The Belgrano was sent to bottom in short order, her ancient hull rent by two torpedoes: 323 men, many of them young conscripts, died. The Falklands war began in earnest that day, May 2 1982.
But the ship now in the crosswires was not the Belgrano. This was August, almost two months after the liberation of the Falklands, and on the other side of the world, in the Barents Sea, backyard of the mighty Soviet Northern Fleet. Conqueror was sailing as close to Russian territorial waters as was legally allowed - or maybe closer. Submariners, a tight-knit community, politely disdainful of their surface counterparts, joke that there are two types of naval vessel: submarines and targets. Wreford-Brown's target was a spy trawler - an AGI in Nato parlance, meaning Auxiliary General Intelligence. Crammed with interception and detection equipment, they were a ubiquitous presence during the Cold War, shadowing Nato exercises or loitering off naval bases.
This one was special: Polish-flagged, she was pulling a device long coveted by the British and Americans, a two-mile string of hydrophones known as a towed-array sonar. It was the latest thing in Soviet submarine-detection technology and Conqueror's job was to steal it. To do so, the bow was equipped with electronically controlled pincers, provided by the Americans, to gnaw through the three-inch-thick steel cable connecting it to the trawler. The name of this audacious exercise in piracy? Operation Barmaid.
Thirty years on, and the story of this mission, classified Top Secret to this day, is being told. It may be that the Russian government is learning for the first time the fate of what was one of its most closely guarded devices.


DAVID Cameron has reaffirmed his commitment to a submarine-based nuclear deterrent, arguing he did not think an alternative would save cash.

The Prime Minister also said having a continuous at-sea presence was vital to its credibility.

He told MPs at Westminster the Government was moving ahead with replacing the four ageing Vanguard-class vessels, which currently carry the Trident missiles.

It comes as former Liberal Democrat Defence Minister Sir Nick Harvey, who lost his job in the recent reshuffle, said the Government may not be able to afford to renew the deterrent because of the cost pressures from future military projects.

The plans have far-reaching implications for thousands of jobs in Plymouth.

Devonport is the UK's only base with the specialist facilities and skilled workforce needed to maintain the current and future submarine fleet.

Sir Nick said the Ministry of Defence was scheduled to pay for the Joint Strike Fighters, new Type 26 frigates and unmanned aircraft when Trident was coming up for renewal.

He urged the PM to consider whether it was necessary to spend millions renewing the missile system.

The Lib Dems are undertaking a review looking at whether there are cheaper alternatives to building the new Trident-carrying vessels.

"This has to come out of the defence budget and austerity is with us for some time yet," Sir Nick said.

But Mr Cameron insisted that the Government had planned for the expenditure and the projects were fully-funded.

He said: "Having carefully considered the issue of the nuclear deterrent, I do not believe that we would save money by adopting an alternative nuclear deterrent posture.

"Also, if we are to have a nuclear deterrent, it makes sense to ensure we have something that is credible and believable, otherwise there is no point in having one at all."

Responding to concerns that replacing Trident with a part-time deterrent could be "dangerously destabilising", Mr Cameron said the Government was already working to replace Vanguard.

"One of the key elements of the credibility of our deterrent has been that it is continuously at sea, and the Royal Navy takes immense pride in having been able to deliver that without a break over so many years," the PM added

Deeps and the Chief Gunnery Instructor
It's the early 60s when one of Her Majesty's sleek black messengers of
death enters HM Dockyard, Pompey for dry docking. 'Deeps' the Tanky, an
able assistant to the Coxswain and oppo of the Leading Chef is instructed
to run an errand to Victory Barracks (as it was called back then) by the
Resplendent in his battery acid honed No.8 trousers, salt encrusted
steaming boots, off-grey submarine roll neck sweater and nicely yellowed
cap with bow strategically placed over his left eye, our hero enters the
Barracks. He strolls across the parade ground contemplating lighting up a
DF when the strangulated cry of "that ugly creature there" rents the
A Chief Gunnery Instructor, testicles tightly bound with black masking
tape to obtain that required pitch, stands quivering on his mirror-like
boots with inch thick soles and 200 polished hobnails. Deeps thinks, 'not
me, I'm only a visitor' and ambles on.
The Chief of the Parade, who, as we all know, never runs anywhere, walks
at great speed, pace stick clenched firmly under his arm. When he gets in
front of our hero he places the tip of his pace stick on Deeps' chest to
prevent any escape and eyes him up and down.
Deeps, having suffered the wrath of various submarine Chief Stokers, is
totally unfazed by this apparition and awaits the next move.
The Chief of the parade, said in a loud bull horn voice: "There is a bit
of shit on the end of my stick."
Deeps replied: "It's not at my end, Chief!"