One of the Navy’s key ammunition facilities is being revamped to support the Fleet of tomorrow.
Royal Navy warships and Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships have made regular use of the remote jetty at Glenmallan in Scotland for the past half century.
The site on Loch Long – a couple of miles west of Clyde Naval Base – provides a vital deep-water berth for the largest ships in the Fleet.
But the quay where missiles, bombs, shells and depth charges are delivered to waiting ships from the nearby Glen Douglas depot – the largest weapons storage facility in western Europe – has reached the end of its natural life.
So £64m is being spent by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation on replacing it; the new jetty is designed with the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers in mind – and will last throughout their planned 50-year careers.
The same firm behind the special jetties built for the two carriers in Portsmouth, VolkerStevin, is behind the overhaul which is due to be completed early next year.
It’s already installed 97 head piles to support a reinforced concrete deck on the new jetty, with the old jetty material removed by barge down the Clyde to prevent clogging up the few, narrow roads in the area of the ammunition depot.
As well as taking the large ‘overhang’ of the carriers’ flight decks into account with the new jetty, the firm is installing two new cranes, fire-fighting equipment, stores, back-up generators and offices, all surrounded by new fencing and a CCTV system to provide security.
The jetty is fed from a subterranean network of tunnels and magazines at Glen Douglas, carved out of the rock in the 1960s to support NATO operations at the height of the Cold War.
It remains a vital storage depot for munitions and was used extensively by the Royal Navy during operations in Iraq in 2003.
Glenmallan/Glen Douglas has four times the capacity of the similar ammo facility on the Forth at Crombie but even so, it typically took a week to load all the munitions required for operations by the UK’s previous generation of carriers.