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How Scottish Trio of CalMac Ferries Played Crucial Part in Nuclear Planning

23rd January 2017
In 1964, the Secretary of State for Scotland ordered a trio of nuclear ships to be built for senior UK Government officials and members of the Royal Family. Among the ships was Columba (currently cruiseship Hebridean Princess seen above in Dublin). They were chartered to Macbrayne Ltd where they operated as ordinary car ferries but they had extraordinary features making it possible for them to act as 'floating nuclear bunkers'. In 1964, the Secretary of State for Scotland ordered a trio of nuclear ships to be built for senior UK Government officials and members of the Royal Family. Among the ships was Columba (currently cruiseship Hebridean Princess seen above in Dublin). They were chartered to Macbrayne Ltd where they operated as ordinary car ferries but they had extraordinary features making it possible for them to act as 'floating nuclear bunkers'. Photo: JEHAN ASHMORE

#FerryNuclear - In the event of a nuclear war between the West and Soviet Union, The Herald writes senior British Government officials would have survived on ships specially built by Caledonian MacBrayne as 'floating nuclear bunkers'.

Afloat adds that among the ferries, Columba (now cruiseship Hebridean Princess) would be hidden along the Scottish coast and in lochs. There is also speculation that the Royal Family (in recent years chartered the former Columba) would have been evacuated to one of these CalMac survival ships to last out the war.

The revelations about Scotland's role after an atomic war appear in top secret documents which have just been declassified following Freedom on Information requests from Cold War researcher Mike Kenner.

The papers detail the “Python” programme designed to keep the government running and the head of state alive in order for the British state to continue operating despite a nuclear exchange, mass deaths and radioactive fallout.
 
Kenner said: "According to a 2009 Cabinet Office statement, 'The Python plans that were valid from 1968 bear similarities to plans that are still current.' This explains why it has taken almost 50 years for the Cabinet Office to release any substantive information concerning the Python concept."
 
For much more including Columba's sisters click here. 

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1 comment

  • Comment Link Norman Kean 24th January 2017 posted by Norman Kean

    The origin of the three 1964 MacBrayne ferries is interesting. However a few points for clarification. They were originally officially owned by the Secretary of State for Scotland, registered in Leith and chartered to David MacBrayne Ltd (CalMac didn't exist until the 1970s). The ships were not "nuclear" - they had conventional diesel propulsion. The three were built simply because the Western Isles were in desperate need of new ferry tonnage to replace pre-war steamers, and MacBraynes were broke. No mystery about that. So the charter arrangement was devised, and I dare say some defence-related excuse was necessary to get Government money. (This is a commonplace occurrence - the Royal Yacht Britannia was supposedly to double as a hospital ship in wartime, but she never did, not even in the Falklands.) In the 70s the three ferries were transferred to CalMac ownership and re-registered in Glasgow. Conspiracy theorists can relax. There is no mystery.

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