Gare Loch

A sea loch which flows south to open onto the Firth of Clyde, the Gare Loch is located 13 miles (21 km) northwest of Glasgow. The loch is 7 miles (11 km) in length and 1 mile (1.5 km) in width. It is separated from Loch Long to the west by the Rosneath Peninsula. The town of Helensburgh lies at its mouth, Greenock lies opposite and around the loch are the villages of Rhu, Shandon, Faslane, Garelochhead, Clynder and Rosneath.

The deep water of Gare Loch has been associated with the navy since the First World War and an accident here during acceptance trials result in the sinking of the submarine HMS K13 on 29th January 1917, with the loss of 31 lives. During the World War II a major base was developed at Rosneath and used by the Americans to train for landings in North Africa and on D-Day. In the 1950s British battleships were mothballed in the loch and by the 1960s it became the principal base for the UK's submarine-borne nuclear deterrent, owing to its deep water and easy access to the North Atlantic via the Firth of Clyde. Submarines armed with Trident missiles remain berthed at HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane, which has become the locus for regular peace protests.

A 'measured mile' was established on the west side of the loch in 1841 to allow the speed of Clyde-built ships to be assessed. The first ship tested here was the steam yacht Fire King. Others include the transatlantic paddle steamer Scotia (1861), which won the Blue Riband two years later, and the mile was also used for experiments on drag and friction undertaken using the former paddle steamer Lucy Ashton in 1951-52, which was fitted with four jet engines for the purpose. The mile fell from use in the 1980s.

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