“Major” Royal Navy surface warships should be permanently based in Scottish waters, the SNP has said in its contribution to a review of UK defence.
The party set out a number of proposals for the integrated review of foreign and defence policy, restating its opposition to Trident and calling for a greater focus on “regional security in the High North”.
However, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the plans were “delusional” and would lead to job cuts at the HM Naval Base Clyde, which is home to the UK’s submarine fleet and a squadron of mine countermeasure vessels.
SNP defence spokesman Stewart McDonald said his party had “put forward sensible suggestions on how to meet the modern-day threat picture”.
These include an ambassador for “hybrid threats” who would tackle disinformation, political influence and cyber operations.
The SNP’s submission paper said this was needed in the wake of the Intelligence and Security Committee report on Russia, which was released in July.
Discussing the navy, the party’s submission said: “Scotland hosts no major surface warships, a fact which means that scrambling the Fleet Ready Escort to Scottish waters takes more than 24 hours, as witnessed by the (Russian) Kuznetsov carrier group ‘visit’ to the Moray Firth in January 2014.
“The Ministry of Defence should address this anomaly by permanently basing surface warships within Scottish waters.”
It continued: “Beyond the financial cost, the opportunity cost of Trident renewal is a heavy burden for the rest of the Armed Forces to bear.
“Scrapping Trident would allow this money to be better spent on conventional equipment, including ships and aircraft within the Royal Navy.”
Responding to the plans, the Defence Secretary said opposition to Trident was “incoherent” with membership of Nato.
Mr Wallace said: “The SNP’s plans for defence are delusional.
“Over the years the SNP has firstly rejected Nato membership, and then more lately decided that they would want to join after all – a view that is incoherent with their views on the deterrent and the fact that Nato is a nuclear alliance.
“Article 5 of the Nato treaty says that an attack on one member is an attack on all – collective state security doesn’t have room for the things that the SNP likes and dislikes.
“Or when the nationalists unexpectedly change their minds. Again.”
He continued: “The SNP’s plans for HM Naval Base Clyde – potentially basing a few Scottish surface ships there – show a complete lack of understanding of the complex work that goes on there to deliver our independent nuclear deterrent capability.
“The thousands of advanced nuclear and engineering posts, the hundreds of programme planners and technicians managing the repair and maintenance programme, as well as the highly-trained military and civilian security force, would simply not be required in such numbers just to support a few Scottish surface ships.”