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Submarines at Holy Loch, Scotland Base in Early Cold War


Seabees Build Dry Dock for Submariners at Holy Loch:

In the early 1960s, the U.S. with the cooperation of Great Britain established a nuclear submarine base at the strategically located Holy Loch in Scotland. This location was ideal for several reasons. It had deep water, so it could accommodateSSNs and SSBNs that, even while surfaced, have very deep draft (sometimes close to 40 feet). The sheltered inlet gave immediate access to the famous "Greenland-Iceland-UK Gap," an accident of geography that created a crucial nautical choke point through which all subs (and other vessels) from the USSR's Northern Fleet had to pass to reach the open Atlantic Ocean and come close to American shores. It had one big disadvantage at the start, though, besides the terrible weather: There were no facilities at all for servicing our submarines between their Cold War patrols. Enter the U.S. Navy Seabees. They built, piece by piece from hundreds of modular sections shipped from America, an entire prefabricated floating dry dock for the submariners. These two separate-but-related Web sites provide history, personal reminiscences, and great photo galleries from the time that the Holy Loch base was first coming into operation.

The UK's New Astute-Class Nuclear Fast-Attack Submarine:

The UK's Royal Navy is introducing a new, next-generation nuclear fast-attack SSN into its submarine fleet. The first of these fine vessels is due to enter service in 2008. This Web site, maintained by the prime contractor in the project, BAE Systems, provides fascinating information on this latest development in the UK's modest-sized but extremely capable elite Silent Service warships. The UK owns both SSNs and SSBNs, the latter's sub-launched ballistic missiles maintaining an integral thermonuclear strategic deterrent -- with the ultimate in stealth and survivability -- as part of that nation's armed forces. American and British submariners often cooperate closely on mission roles, tactics, and policy. They pair off in competitive mock-combat undersea exercises against each other, honing their skills for a major war whose job it is, for them, to help make sure never occurs. Having seen really "up close and personal" the dire threat presented by German U-boats in two world wars, the Brits take submarine warfare very seriously indeed. (It's a little known fact that the U-boats actually sank more British Commonwealth shipping tonnage in World War I than they did in World War II, and Germany's all-time U-boat ace fought for the Kaiser, not the Nazis.)

StrategyPage's Submarine Section:

StrategyPage.com is a great Web site for all military enthusiasts, chock full of news and views, intell rumors, info on the latest combat video games, and much more. This link will take you to their section on submarines, first. Click on the home page link at the top of that page to see everything else they have to offer, and then surf and browse to your heart's content. This one is well worth bookmarking!

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