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Rosyth Naval Dockyard

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Rosyth Naval Dockyard lies on the east coast of Scotland, and dates from 1903, when the Admiralty decided to site a naval base and dockyard there, taking advantage of the deep tidal water off St Margaret's Hope. The government purchased the land, and the town of Rosyth was planned as a Garden City to house the workers. The tidal basin and three graving docks were built by Easton, Gibb and Son Ltd between 1909 and 1916, and the Rosyth Fuel Depot, providing a 250,000 ton capacity concrete tank, and 37 x 5,000 ton steel tanks, was completed in 1919. The dockyard workshops were built in 1915. The first vessel to be repaired was HMS Zealandia which entered No 1 Dock in March 1916. By 1921, the yard moved on to short-time working, and closed in 1925. It re-opened in 1938, with further development of its workshops, which continued after World War II.

The period of the Cold War saw the dockyard, and its associated Royal Naval Base, HMS Cochrane, develop as a refitting centre for both conventional and nuclear (Polaris) submarines, as well as frigates, minesweepers, and offshore protection vessels. Government plans to refit the Polaris replacement, Britain's Trident nuclear submarine fleet, elsewhere were seen as a blow to the future of Rosyth, which had become the largest industrial site in Scotland, and the largest employer of labour in Fife. This decision was compounded with the decision to close Royal Naval Base by April 1996, which had begun to run down since 1993, as the ending of the Cold War had rendered it an unnecessary liability in its role of counter to Soviet forces from the north and east.

In 1997, the former Naval Dockyard was acquired by Babcock International, which had already taken over management of the facility in 1987, in a move which made Rosyth Royal Dockyard the first privatised naval dockyard in Britain. On January 30, 1997, a new nuclear site licence was granted by HSE to Rosyth Royal Dockyard Limited (RRD), the new licences was necessary because under privatisation of the dockyard, the contracting arrangements between the MoD and the dockyard companies changed, with a new corporate body using the site.

Independent of these changes, HMS Caledonia remained on the site although it lost its identity for a time, being known as HMS Cochrane Annex.

Rosyth has been identified as a possible location for the storage of nuclear waste from decommissioned submarines as part of the ISOLUS project. The dockyard has been used as a storage location for scrapped submarines since 1983 when HMS Dreadnought, Britain's first nuclear powered submarine was towed into the yard.

HMS Sceptre (S104) incident

Rosyth was unfortunate enough to have been visited by HMS Sceptre, a nuclear powered submarine which has suffered several accidents during her service life, which began in 1978, and was recommended to be scrapped after the following incident which took place in 2002. As of 2007, Sceptre remains in service, but after putting in to Gibraltar for repairs in 2005, brought a protest from Spain's Foreign Minister, demanding she be the last nuclear powered submarine serviced there. This was followed by Gibraltar's Chief Minister, with a complaint that he had been "misinformed" regarding the nature of the fault. No further nuclear submarines have since called at the port for service work.

On March 6, 2000, HMS Sceptre suffered a serious accident while inside a dry dock at the Rosyth while undergoing trials towards the end of a major refit. The test involved flooding the dry dock and running the main engines slowly, using steam supplied from the shore. In this case, too much steam was used for the trial, and the engines went to full speed - Sceptre broke her moorings and shot forward off her support cradle. The steam line ruptured, scaffolding was buckled, and a crane was pushed forward some 15 feet, with the submarine moving forward some 30 feet within the dock.

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