Tuesday, October 15, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of 'Facing The Bear: Scotland And The Cold War'

The Washington Times published my review of Facing the Bear: Scotland and the Cold War.

After serving two years on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War, I went from serving on one of the largest ships in the world to one of the smallest, as I was assigned to a 100-foot Navy harbor tugboat at the American nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland.

The two tugboats at the floating naval base in the middle of the loch were the workhorses of Submarine Squadron 14. In addition to towing submarines and barges in the loch, the tugboats were also sent out to rendezvous with submarines at sea. The tugboats engaged in naval exercises with the submarines and performed medical evacuations and intelligence missions.

I recall the American, British and Soviet submarines playing dangerous cat and mouse games in the Irish Sea and the North Atlantic, and had the Cold War turned hot, as Trevor Royle states in his book “Facing the Bear: Scotland and the Cold War,” Scotland would have been a prime target for destruction by the Soviets.

The Cold War, which lasted roughly from the end of World War II in 1945 to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, saw the US and NATO allies poised and ready for war with nuclear-armed missiles aimed at the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc nations. 

“For much of the period Scotland was on the front line, mainly due to its position on NATO’s “northern flank” — the waters of the north-east Atlantic and the Norwegian and Barents Seas with the vital Greenland-Iceland-UK (GIUK) gap through which Soviet nuclear-armed submarines and strategic bombers would have attacked in the event of an outbreak of hostilities,” Trevor Royle writes. “That made Scotland the first major obstacle: it would have been in these northern seas and over Scottish skies that the first battles would have been fought. That accounted for the build-up of sophisticated antisubmarine warfare facilities and air defenses in Scotland and it was from the American and British bases on the Clyde that the strategic submarines would have launched the response by way of Polaris and Poseidon missiles, each of them capable of destroying Hiroshima several times over.”

In Mr. Royle’s history of the Cold War era in Scotland, he notes that not everyone was happy with the American Navy creating a nuclear submarine base at Holy Loch near the Clyde. The 1960 US-UK deal to allow the Polaris-equipped submarines to locate in Scotland became a focal point for anti-nuclear protests. Mr. Royle explains that the movement attracted pacifists, environmentalists, trade unionists and leftist politicians. Yet many Scots welcomed the Yanks and were thankful for the defense partnership, as well as the infusion of dollars into the local economy.

… The book also covers the Scottish regiments that served in the Korean War and in West Germany, as well the Scottish cultural aspects of the Cold War. The book even mentions briefly my old Navy tugboat, the USS Saugus, YTB-780. 

You can read the rest of the review via the below link: 


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