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Loch Ewe

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Loch Ewe is a sea loch in Wester Ross, Highlands, approximately 10 miles (16 km) long. The River Ewe drains into the loch from Loch Maree, some three miles (5 km) southeast.

The loch has always been significant in terms of maritime trade, as the surrounding coast towards the sea is rugged and inhospitable, making access difficult. As far back as 1610, an iron furnace was established near Poolewe at the head of the loch, fuelled by charcoal from nearby woodland.

World War I

The loch was used as an anchorage.

World War II

Northern route - Murmansk, source in links below
Northern route - Murmansk

During World War II, the loch became a naval port of significant strategic importance to Britain, and served as one of the main assembly points for many of the Atlantic convoys bound for North America and West Africa, together with those destined for Murmansk, Arctic Russia, on the Arctic Run. It was also the entry point for many British submarines making their way into the Atlantic Ocean.

The entrance to the loch was guarded by numerous command posts and gun emplacements, with artillery, anti-aircraft guns, mines, anti-submarine nets, and boom depots, together with further sites along its shores which formed the

The wartime role of Loch Ewe and those who lost their lives sailing from there was commemorated by a memorial stone unveiled at Cove during 1999, where the B8057 road ends at Rubha nan Sasan.

Z-Berth

The loch is also a designated Z-Berth which has been in use since 1963. with two mooring points. One is located at the Loch Ewe POL Depot, while the other is located at the A1 buoy.[1]

Revised Emergency Plan

In 2018, the media carried news of a new Emergency Response Plan, and the link to the earlier plan (given below) was found to be dead.

The council lists a number of emergency plans on its Emergency Planning web page, including a downloadable 72 page pdf for its 'Highsafe' Nuclear powered submarine emergency Plan. [2] [3]

Highland Council has set out its planned response to the "unlikely event" of an emergency involving a nuclear submarine's reactor.

The local authority's area has an operational berth for Royal Navy submarines in Loch Ewe in Wester Ross.

It is required to plan for how it would help with the response to a reactor failure that resulted in radioactive contamination.

Actions include exclusion zones and potential evacuations of properties.

The area around Loch Ewe, which was a gathering point for supply ship convoys to Russia in World War Two, is sparsely populated.

'Atomic explosion'

Established in the 1960s, the loch's berth is visited "infrequently", according to Highland Council's newly updated public document, Loch Ewe Nuclear Powered Warship Emergency Response Plan.

In the document, the local authority said: "The design, manufacture and operation of reactor plants are extremely carefully supervised and controlled to reduce the risk of any form of emergency to the absolute minimum.

"However, should such an emergency occur, the effect would, at worst, be a release over a 24-hour period of a radioactive cloud of gaseous and volatile fission products, the most significant of which is radioactive iodine.

"It is emphasised that it is impossible for a reactor emergency to result in an atomic bomb type explosion."

Measures taken in the event of an emergency would include an immediate 400m circular "automatic countermeasures zone" around the warship, and a minimum mile-wide radius "detailed emergency planning zone (DEPZ)".

-Council plans for a nuclear submarine emergency[4]

References

1 NATO POL Depot Loch Ewe Off-site Emergency Plan Retrieved May 01, 2010.

2 Emergency planning Retrieved 28 October, 2018.

3 'Highsafe' Nuclear powered submarine emergency Plan Retrieved 28 October, 2018.

4 Council plans for a nuclear submarine emergency Retrieved 28 October, 2018.

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Aerial views


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