Thursday, 7 April 2011

*Holy Loch*

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The Holy Loch seen across the Firth of Clyde from Tower Hill, Gourock, with Hunters Quay on the left, and Strone to the right

The Holy Loch (Scottish Gaelic "An Loch Sianta/Seunta") is a sea loch in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.
Robertson's Yard at Sandbank, a village on the loch, was a major wooden boat building company in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
During World War II, the loch was used a submarine base. From 1961–1992, it was used as a US Polaris nuclear submarine base. In 1992, the Holy Loch base was deemed unnecessary following the demise of the Soviet Union and subsequently withdrawn.

World War II

During World War II the loch was used by the Royal Navy as a submarine base, served by the depot ship HMS Forth (1938). The loch was used extensively for trials and exercises by Royal Navy submarines during the war, the submarines HMS Vandal (P64) and HMS Untamed (P58) were lost in the Clyde after being sunk by accidents during exercises. Untamed was later salvaged.
Near the Holy Loch an anti-submarine boom was constructed between Dunoon and the
Cloch Point Lighthouse to defend waters from German U-boats.

US Navy

Between 1961 and 1992, Holy Loch was the site of the United States Navy's "FBM Refit Site One". It was the home base of Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 14, part of Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. To make maximum usage of its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) deterrent force, American military had determined that it required an overseas base for refit and crew

Holy Loch was one of several locations on or near the
Firth of Clyde considered for the refit site. Others were Faslane, the channel between Largs and Cumbrae, Rosneath Bay, and Rothesay Bay. Site selection criteria included the requirements for a sheltered anchorage, relative proximity to an international airport, and sufficient shore facilities to provide housing for military personnel and their families. Agreement for the use of Holy Loch was reached near the end of 1960 and the arrival of the first tender, USS Proteus (AS-19) scheduled for December. Divisions within the British government and concerns about protests by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) caused her arrival to be rescheduled to 3 March 1961. turnover.

USS Proteus AS-19

Between 1961 and 1982, the Naval Support Activity ashore was administered by US Naval Activities London. In 1982, Naval Support Activity (NAVSUPPACT), Forward Base, Holy Loch, Scotland became its own command. NAVSUPPACT ultimately managed 42 facilities and leased 342 housing units for Navy personnel and their dependents.
A person of note who served at the Holy Loch was
Laurel Clark, known to her shipmates as “Doc Salton”, who was assigned as the Radiation Health Officer and Undersea Medical Officer at SUBRON 14. “Doc” was one of the astronauts who perished in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on 1 February 2003.

In 1992, the base was deemed unnecessary following the demise of the Soviet Union and subsequently withdrawn. The last submarine tender to be based there, the
USS Simon Lake (AS-33), left Holy Loch in June 1992 leading to a major downturn in the local economy and prompting protest from local taxi drivers and publicans. However, the area is becoming vibrant again with new homes having been built and the population expanding once more.
Polaris Tartan

In the 1968 film Ice Station Zebra, reference is made to the Navy base. The 1988 film Down Where The Buffalo Go was centred on the base and focussed on the life of a Navy Shore patrol officer. It was filmed around the base and in Greenock.
Holy Loch is mentioned in both the novel Red Storm Rising by
Tom Clancy and Larry Bond and the computer game from MicroProse based on the book. It is mentioned in the 1982 film Who Dares Wins.
It is mentioned in The Apocalypse Troll by
David Weber as the site that Captain Richard Aston USN sails to after rescuing Ludmilla Leonovna, Terran Marines. He also notes that the tender on duty is the USS McKee (AS-41), and that it now 'nurses' Los Angeles and Seawolf subs, not missile boats. (The McKee was decommissioned on October 1, 1999).
Wiki Here >> Holy Loch US Navy


Open to the Firth of Clyde at its eastern end, the loch is approximately one mile wide and between two and three miles (5 km) long, varying with the tide. The town of Dunoon on the Cowal peninsula lies on the shores of the Clyde just to the south of the loch, and houses continue round the villages of Kirn, Hunter's Quay at the point with the landing slip for Western Ferries, Ardnadam and past Lazaretto Point, the village of Sandbank, with open countryside at the end of the loch, then on the northern shore Kilmun, and at Strone Point the village of Strone continues round to the western shore of the Clyde, almost joining Blairmore on Loch Long. The name Holy Loch is believed to date from the 6th century, when Saint Munn landed there after leaving Ireland.

All the villages used to have piers served by Clyde steamers, and now Western Ferries runs between Hunters Quay and McInroy's Point on the outskirts of Gourock, while the Caledonian MacBrayne service runs from Dunoon to Gourock pierhead. At the end of the loch a road runs past the Benmore Botanic Garden and Arboretum (also known as the Younger Botanic Gardens) to scenic Loch Eck and on towards Oban.

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