THE head of the Royal Navy has claimed the “very heart” of Britain’s sea defence forces would be damaged by Scottish independence.
Admiral Sir George Zambellas, the First Sea Lord and professional head of the navy, said both countries would adapt after a Yes vote, but Scotland would feel a “deeper impact” if it broke away.
“I believe that independence would fundamentally change maritime security for all of us in the United Kingdom and damage the very heart of the capabilities that are made up of the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the Fleet Air Arm,” he said.
“While the continuing United Kingdom would eventually adapt and cope, the deeper impact would be felt in Scotland, which would no longer have access of right to the security contribution of one of the finest and most efficient navies in the world.”
An independent Scotland’s “claim on the Royal Navy would greatly weaken the carefully evolved ‘whole’, as bases, infrastructure, procurement, spares, personnel and training face a carve-up”, he added.
“The effectiveness of the Royal Navy, following separation, would weaken the security of both nations and while the UK would adapt and restructure to meet a changed set of responsibilities, we should be clear that the sum of two parts would no longer add up to the whole.”
SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson said Scotland has already been “stripped bare of conventional naval capability” by Westminster cuts.
He added: “There are no ocean-going surface vessels based in Scotland and no maritime reconnaissance aircraft – that is an extraordinary and unacceptable gap, which has seen ships dispatched from the South of England to the Moray Firth in response to Russian naval activity.”