Faslane 'vulnerable to terrorists'
• Academic says Scottish nuclear submarine base a potential al-Qaeda target
• Dr Jamison says submarines unpatrolled and location leaves base exposed
• Royal Navy deny security is not taken seriously enough
"We are a naval base of about 6,000 personnel with some very senior military personnel who constantly review security" - Neil Smith, Royal Navy spokesman
Story in full FASLANE submarine base and the nearby Coulport missile depot are vulnerable to a deadly mortar or suicide boat attack, a nuclear weapons expert warns in a new book.
Dr Brian Jamison says the geographical position of the two facilities makes them susceptible to an al-Qaeda attack, and claims that submarines are rarely escorted by armed patrol vessels.
In Securing That Which Makes Us Secure: Scotland's Past, Present and Future With Trident, an extract of which is published in today's Scotsman, Dr Jamison suggests security should be improved at Faslane and Coulport.
Faslane, on Gare Loch, leading into the Firth of Clyde, is home to four Trident nuclear-weapon carrying submarines and four submarines capable of carrying conventional weapons only. All eight are nuclear powered.
Dr Jamison, who works for the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies at the University of Southampton and who has spent five years studying Scotland's involvement with the Trident nuclear missiles system, describes the risk of a warhead detonating in an attack as "vastly remote".
But he says the psychological impact of an attack would be huge and could spark a backlash against our nuclear deterrent.
He suggests that the high ground surrounding the facilities leaves them prone to attack and says defence officials should consider extending the perimeter fence.
He writes: "While the entrance to Faslane now appears to be reinforced with protective barricades, activists have entered the facility illegally, and the entire establishment is left in full view to the outside world.
"With the public's unrestricted access to Ardentinny (across the water), several of these conditions also apply to the Coulport facility."
He continues: "There is a very real possibility that these shore establishments are exposed to the dangers associated with various package-type improvised explosive devices (IEDs), vehicle-borne IEDs, suicide bomb IEDs and mortar attacks."
He concludes: "In dealing with the cult of the premeditating martyr, it appears that there may be a need for overhauling security procedures and extending the perimeter fence around these shore establishments."
Dr Jamison also claims submarines entering and leaving Faslane are frequently not escorted by high-visibility armed patrol boats.
He said: "I was over at Coulport taking pictures of the facility and talking to locals not long after September 11 when a speedboat went past and was not attended to.
"It immediately occurred to me - what if the person rigged the boats with explosives and drove it into the facility?
"I've kept in contact with numerous people I met there over the last few year, both in the facilities and in the local area, and they still assure me there is no heavily armed security guiding these vessels out of the facility and into the open seas."
He said that an attack on one of Scotland's three Trident facilities - the other is sited at Rosyth - could "have serious ramifications for the British (nuclear) deterrent".
He said: "People would be concerned about it. People in Scotland have already had concerns about it for a number of years."
Earlier this month it was reported that Muslim terrorists plotted an attack on Faslane in 2002.
The plot was only foiled when someone told police of the plan.
Faslane and Coulport are defended on land by the 500-strong Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines, as well as hundreds of unarmed Ministry of Defence guards and armed MoD police who carry out regular patrols outside the perimeter.
The Clyde Marine Unit, the largest armed marine police force in Europe, maintains a constant patrol of the waters around the facilities.
Neil Smith, a Royal Navy spokesman, said they took security at the bases very seriously.
"We are a naval base of about 6,000 personnel with some very senior military personnel who constantly review security," he said.
"What Dr Jamison is saying is hardly a blinding light on the road to Damascus. Security is taken very seriously indeed."
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