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|Location||Cowal, Argyll and Bute, Scotland|
|Coordinates|| Coordinates: |
National grid reference
|Native name||An Loch Sianta/Seunta (Scottish Gaelic)|
|Basin countries||Scotland, United Kingdom|
|Surface elevation||Sea level|
The Holy Loch (Scottish Gaelic : An Loch Sianta/Seunta) is a sea loch, a part of the Cowal peninsula coast of the Firth of Clyde, in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.
The "Holy Loch" name is believed to date from the 6th century, when Saint Munn landed there after leaving Ireland. Kilmun Parish Church and Argyll Mausoleum is said to stand where Saint Munn's church was once located.
Robertson's Yard at Sandbank, a village on the loch, was a major wooden boat building company in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
During World War II, the loch was used as a British Royal Navy submarine base. From 1961 to 1992, it was used as a United States Navy ballistic missile submarine base. In 1992, the Holy Loch base was deemed unnecessary following the demise of the Soviet Union and subsequently closed.
Open on the Firth of Clyde at its eastern end, the Sea Loch is approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) wide and between 2 and 3 miles (3 and 5 km) long, varying with the tide. The town of Dunoon on the Cowal peninsula lies on the shores of the Clyde just to the south of the loch, and houses continue round the villages of Kirn, Hunters Quay at the point with the landing slip for Western Ferries, Ardnadam and past Lazaretto Point, the village of Sandbank, with open countryside at the end of the Sea Loch, then on the northern shore Kilmun, and at Strone Point the village of Strone continues on the western shore of the Firth of Clyde, almost joining Blairmore on Loch Long.
All the villages used to have piers served by Clyde steamers, and now Western Ferries runs between Hunters Quay and McInroy's Point on the outskirts of Gourock, while the Argyll Ferries service runs from Dunoon to Gourock pierhead. At the end of the loch a road runs past the Benmore Botanic Garden and Arboretum (also known as the Younger Botanic Gardens) to Loch Eck and on towards Inveraray.
On the shore of the Holy Loch at Kilmun (Gaelic Cill Mhunnu, 'the church of St Munnu') stands a nineteenth-century church. It stands on the site of a sequence of earlier churches, and an early carved stone on the site suggests that there was a church here perhaps as early as the sixth or seventh century. The dedication to St Munnu, otherwise known as Fintan, St Munn (Fintán of Taghmon), reflects devotion to an Irish saint who founded a church at Taghmon in Leinster. The remains of a 12th-century church are still visible at Kilmun.At the present site of Kilmun Church, a church building is recorded in the 13th century. By the 15th century, the significance of Kilmun as a local centre of Christianity was so great that the adjacent loch became known as the Holy Loch, and the powerful Clan Campbell adopted it as their spiritual home. From the 14th century, Dunoon Castle, a short distance away, was held by the Campbell family and in the 1440s Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochawe (later 1st Lord Campbell), the then chief of the clan, lived near Kilmun in a private residence named Strathechaig.
Alexander Robertson started repairing boats in a small workshop at Sandbank in 1876, and Alexander Robertson & Sons went on to become one of the foremost wooden boat builders on the Clyde. Their 'golden years' were in the early 20th century when they started building classic 12 & 15 metre racing yachts. Robertsons was chosen to build the first 15-metre yacht designed by William Fife (Shimna, 1907). More than 55 boats were built by Robertsons in preparation for the First World War and the yard remained busy even during the Great Depression in the 1930s, as many wealthy businessmen developed a passion for yacht racing. During World War II the yard was devoted to Admiralty work, producing a wide range of large high speed Fairmile Marine Motor Boats (MTBs and MGBs).
After the war the yard built the successful one-class Loch Longs and two 12-metre challengers for the America's Cup: Sceptre (1958) (17 tonnes) and Sovereign (1964). The Robertson family sold the yard in 1965, and it was turned over to GRP production work (mainly Pipers and Etchells). During its 104-year history, Robertson's Yard built 500 boats, many of which are still sailing. The yard ceased trading in the early 1980s; at this point it was owned by Terry Hooper who ran the yard servicing mostly the US Navy. After the US navy packed up and left the area Hooper sold the yard in the 1990s. The site has since been converted to residential building and the new Holy Loch Marina development. The yard today is still widely known in the area as 'Hooper's Yard'.
During World War II the loch was used by the Royal Navy as a submarine base, served by the depot ship HMS Forth. The loch was used extensively for trials and exercises by Royal Navy submarines during the war, the submarines HMS Vandal (P64) and HMS Untamed (P58) were lost in the Clyde after being sunk by accidents during exercises. Untamed was later salvaged.
Near the Holy Loch an anti-submarine boom was constructed between Dunoon and the Cloch Point Lighthouse to defend waters from German U-boats.
Between 1961 and 1992, Holy Loch was the site of the United States Navy's Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Refit Site One. It was the home base of Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 14, part of Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. To make maximum usage of its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) deterrent force, the American military had determined that it required an overseas base for refit and crew turnover. Negotiations with the British Government began as early as March 1959 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower mentioned to the need to British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan at a meeting at Camp David.
Holy Loch was one of several locations on or near the Firth of Clyde considered for the refit site. Others were Faslane, the channel between Largs and Cumbrae, Rosneath Bay, and Rothesay Bay. Site selection criteria included the requirements for a sheltered anchorage, relative proximity to an international airport, and sufficient shore facilities to provide housing for military personnel and their families. Agreement for the use of Holy Loch was reached near the end of 1960 and the arrival of the first tender, USS Proteus (AS-19) scheduled for December. Divisions within the British government and concerns about protests by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) caused her arrival to be rescheduled to 3 March 1961. Protests at the site followed.
Between 1961 and 1982, the Naval Support Activity ashore was administered by US Naval Activities London. In 1982, Naval Support Activity (NAVSUPPACT), Forward Base, Holy Loch, Scotland became its own command. NAVSUPPACT ultimately managed 42 facilities and leased 342 housing units for Navy personnel and their dependents.
A monument was built to the American Navy's years' at the Holy Loch, Site One. The monument is located in the Castle Gardens, Dunoon.
Over the years, five different submarine tenders and one floating dry dock served in the loch.
|March 1961||January 1963||USS Proteus (AS-19)||Commenced first site one refit 6 March 1961. (USS Patrick Henry (SSBN-599))|
|January 1963||August 1966||USS Hunley (AS-31)|
|August 1966||May 1970||USS Simon Lake (AS-33)|
|May 1970||November 1975||USS Canopus (AS-34)|
|November 1975||January 1982||USS Holland (AS-32)|
|January 1982||June 1987||USS Hunley (AS-31)|
|June 1987||March 1992||USS Simon Lake (AS-33)|
|June 1961||February 1992||Los Alamos (AFDB-7)||February 1964, completed the first "off centre" docking of a Polaris submarine|
Two notable incidents occurred during the three-decade long deployment of SUBRON 14 at Holy Loch. On 29 November 1970, a fire erupted on USS Canopus, killing three of her complement. Almost four years later, on 3 November 1974, the nuclear ballistic missile submarine USS James Madison (SSBN-627) collided with a Soviet submarine, assumed to be a Victor-class nuclear-powered attack submarine, during a dive just after departing from Holy Loch. The American submarine was dented and suffered a nine-foot scratch on her hull. She spent a full week at the base for inspection and repairs.
Laurel Clark, known to her shipmates as "Doc Salton", was assigned as the Radiation Health Officer and Undersea Medical Officer at SUBRON 14. Clark was one of the astronauts who perished in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster on 1 February 2003.
New technologies and the end of the cold war led to the base being deemed unnecessary. The last submarine tender to be based there, the USS Simon Lake (AS-33), left Holy Loch in November 1991, ahead of the base closing the following June.
The Firth of Clyde is the mouth of the River Clyde. It is located on the west coast of Scotland and constitutes the deepest coastal waters in the British Isles. The firth is sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean by the Kintyre peninsula, which encloses the outer firth in Argyll and Ayrshire. The Kilbrannan Sound is a large arm of the Firth of Clyde, separating the Kintyre Peninsula from the Isle of Arran. Within the Firth of Clyde is another major island – the Isle of Bute. Given its strategic location at the entrance to the middle and upper Clyde, Bute played a vital naval military role during World War II.
Dunoon is the main town on the Cowal peninsula in the south of Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It is located on the western shore of the upper Firth of Clyde, to the south of the Holy Loch and to the north of Innellan. As well as forming part of the council area of Argyll and Bute, Dunoon also has its own community council. Dunoon was a burgh until 1976.
Cowal is a peninsula in Argyll and Bute, in the west of Scotland, that extends into the Firth of Clyde.
Loch Long is a body of water in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. The Sea Loch extends from the Firth of Clyde at its southwestern end. It measures approximately 20 miles (32 km) in length, with a width of between 1 and 2 miles. The loch also has an arm, Loch Goil, on its western side.
The Gare Loch or Gareloch is an open sea loch in Argyll and Bute, Scotland and bears a similar name to the village of Gairloch in the north west Highlands.
Sandbank is a village on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It is located 2.5 miles north of Dunoon on the coastal A815 or the inland A885 and sits on the southern shore of the Holy Loch, branching off the Firth of Clyde.
Innellan is a village in Argyll and Bute, Scotland, on the western shore of the Firth of Clyde. It is four miles south of Dunoon.
Her Majesty's Naval Base, Clyde, primarily sited at Faslane on the Gare Loch, is one of three operating bases in the United Kingdom for the Royal Navy. It is the navy's headquarters in Scotland and is best known as the home of Britain's nuclear weapons, in the form of nuclear submarines armed with Trident missiles.
Kilmun is a linear settlement on the north shore of the Holy Loch, on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll and Bute, Scottish Highlands.It takes its name from the 7th century monastic community founded by an Irish monk, St Munn. The ruin of a 12th-century church still stands beside the Kilmun Parish Church and Argyll Mausoleum.
The Tail of the Bank is the name given to the anchorage in the upper Firth of Clyde immediately North of Greenock, between Inverclyde and Argyll and Bute. This area of the Firth gets its name from the deep water immediately to the west of the sandbank which marks the entrance to the navigable channel up the Estuary of the River Clyde.
Strone is a village on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll and Bute in the Scottish Highlands at the point where the north shore of the Holy Loch becomes the west shore of the Firth of Clyde. The village lies within the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.
Kirn is a village in Argyll and Bute in the Scottish Highlands on the west shore of the Firth of Clyde on the Cowal peninsula. It now forms part of the continuous habitation between Dunoon and Hunters Quay, where the Holy Loch joins the Firth of Clyde. It originally had its own pier and was a regular stop for the Clyde steamer services, bringing holidaymakers to the town, mostly from the Glasgow area.
Ardentinny is a small village on the western shore of Loch Long, 14 miles (23 km) north of Dunoon on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll and Bute, Scottish Highlands.
Ardnadam is a village on the Holy Loch on the Cowal peninsula, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It is located northwest of Hunters Quay and east of Sandbank, and sits across the loch from Kilmun.
Alexander Robertson & Sons was a boatyard in Sandbank, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, from 1876 to 1980. The yard was located on the shore of the Holy Loch, not far from the Royal Clyde Yacht Club (RCYC) at Hunters Quay, in the building that is now the Royal Marine Hotel, which was the epicentre of early Clyde yachting. Alexander Robertson started repairing boats in a small workshop at Sandbank in 1876, and went on to become one of the foremost wooden boat-builders on Scotland's River Clyde. The "golden years" of Robertson's yard were in the early 1900s, when it started building some of the first IYRU 12mR & 15mR racing yachts. Robertson's was well known for the quality of its workmanship and was chosen to build the first 15-metre yacht designed by William Fife III. More than 55 boats were built by Robertson's in preparation for the First World War and the yard remained busy even during the Great Depression in the 1930s as many wealthy businessmen developed a passion for yacht racing on the Clyde. During World War II the yard was devoted to Admiralty work, producing a wide range of large high-speed Fairmile Marine Motor Boats. After the war, the yard built the successful one-class Loch Longs and two 12-metre challengers for the America's Cup: Sceptre (1958) and Sovereign (1964). Due to difficult business conditions, the Robertson family sold the yard in 1965, and it was turned over to glass-reinforced plastic production work until it closed in 1980. During its 104-year history, Robertson's Yard built 482 numbered boats, many of which are still sailing today.
Submarine Squadron 14 , was a United States Navy submarine squadron.
Kilmun Parish Church and Argyll Mausoleum in Kilmun, Argyll and Bute, Scotland, consists of St Munn's Church, as well as the adjacent mausoleum of the Dukes of Argyll and a historically significant churchyard. The complex is located on the summit of a slight knoll about ten metres from the shoreline of the Holy Loch on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll, Scotland. The existing church dates from 1841 and occupies the site of an older, medieval church. A partly ruined tower from the medieval period still stands to the west of the present building.
The River Eachaig is a river on the Cowal peninsula, Argyll and Bute in western Scotland.
St Columba's Church is a Church of Scotland church building in Strone, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. The church is located on Shore Road at the mouth of the Holy Loch on its northern banks and near its merging with Loch Long. It is a Category C listed building.
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