Scotland

COVID: Nuclear Mission Kept Afloat As Royal Marines Install Faslane Test Site

The Commanding Officer of 43 Commando says the UK's Continuous At Sea Deterrent is a "no fail" operation.

Royal Marines have established a coronavirus testing site at the home of the Royal Navy's nuclear submarine fleet.

The testing centre has been set up to ensure the longest-running British military operation can safely continue to provide a nuclear deterrent.

HMNB Clyde in Faslane now sees personnel from 43 Commando operating a new lateral flow test facility, protecting service members at one of the UK's most secure military bases from the virus that has devastated the globe.

The Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD) mission sees Vanguard-class nuclear submarines carry out "round-the-clock" patrols across the globe, armed with ballistic missile systems capable of reaching potential aggressors within 4,000 nautical miles.

The operation has been in place for more than half a century and is the cornerstone of the nation's defence policy, playing a significant role within its contribution to NATO.

To keep the capability up and running, personnel in Faslane are tested when coming back from leave or exercise to ensure they can enter their working bubbles safely.

Colonel Andrew Muddiman, Commanding Officer of 43 Commando, said the base-wide programme is part of a "layered defence" against infections among Navy sailors forming the crew of vessels based at HMNB Clyde, alongside the marines operating its security and the industrial workforce there.

Royal Navy submarine HMS Victorious departs HMNB Clyde 050613 CREDIT Royal Navy .jpg
One of the Royal Navy's nuclear submarines, HMS Victorious, departs HMNB Clyde (Picture: Royal Navy).

"CASD – by its very nature it's continuous," he said.

"The security duties we have to provide are round the clock.

"They cannot take account of anything other than the requirement for it to continue and be assured. It’s a 'no fail' mission in that regard.

"What we will try and do is make sure that we protect ourselves and minimise the risk of transmission within the bubbles, and that the troops that operate in those household bubbles are as safe and protected as they can be.

"But also, very importantly, we are also trying to reduce the risk to industrial partners, to other personnel such as Ministry of Defence Police with whom we work very closely and ensuring that we don't act unknowingly as unwitting vectors for the disease as well as being affected by it ourselves," he added.

The testing comes as part of wider efforts to minimise transmission, including social distancing measures, the wearing of face coverings and cleaning regimes.

Col Muddiman said the new facility allows a "young, fit and healthy workforce" to feel confident "that they are not going to be further disrupted by the risk of COVID infection" and continue to work as close as possible to pre-pandemic times.

Cover image: HMNB Clyde COVID testing facility set up by 43 Commando (Picture: 43 Commando/ Twitter).