Nicola salutes the nuclear navy – but not the weaponry

Nicola Sturgeon, John Corry and the Clyde Submarine Base. In the background Helensburgh’s SNP MP Brendan O’Hara and Martin Docherty Hughes, MP for West Dunbartonshire.

By Bill Heaney

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave a cautious salute of appreciation in the direction of the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane and Coulport on Thursday.

Helensburgh Conservative Maurice Corry, a list member of the Scottish Parliament, asked would she mind.

She did it, but it was one of those “I love you darling … but” kind of tributes which can be just a wee bit embarrassing.

And why was she asked to do it?

Mr Corry said: “For 50 years, generations of submariners based at Her Majesty’s Royal Naval Base Clyde, which is in Faslane in my region, supported by their families, have borne the huge responsibility of protecting the United Kingdom. They have accepted the sacrifice and commitment inherent in that duty.

“Their professionalism has never wavered, and they have delivered on their key task, often for many months at a time.

“Will the First Minister join me in recognising the professionalism, innovation, dedication and skills of the thousands of people at Faslane and Coulport who have supported and crewed our submarines for more than 350 patrols without one minute’s break for 50 years?

“Will she thank them, their families and veterans most sincerely for their dedication and support to the Royal Navy submarine service and to our country’s security?”

The First Minister looked a little uncomfortable as she rose to reply during Question Time: “Yes, I will. I take a very different view from the member on the future of nuclear weapons and the nuclear deterrent.

“I want Scotland and, indeed, the world to be free of nuclear weapons. That is no reflection on the professionalism and the dedication of our service personnel—I would want Faslane in a nuclear-free Scotland to continue as a naval base.

“I take the opportunity today to pay tribute to the dedication, commitment and professionalism not just of submariners working in our services but of all service personnel who work so hard to keep us all safe.”

On a personal note, I have been covering the Base for more than 50 years, and here is the picture to prove it. I am with my journalist colleagues at the time and Captain Peter G. LaNiece at the official opening of HMS Neptune. Ms Sturgeon appears to like the nuclear sailors more than me. The SNP have banned their members from speaking to me and boycotted The Democrat. Bill Heaney

Bill at the opening of the Clyde Sub Base

Bill Heaney, Gerry Fitzgerald, John Esplin, Donald Fullarton, Captain LaNiece, Angela Sandeman, Alex Aitken and Terry Duncan.

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