Atlantic Fleet

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Atlantic Fleet
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
AllegianceFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Fleet HQGibraltar Dockyard (1904-1912)‎
Scapa Flow (1919-1932)
In CommandCommander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet (1904-1910)‎
Vice-Admiral Commanding, Atlantic Fleet (1910-1914)‎
Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet (1919-1933)
FirstVice-Admiral Charles William de la Poer Beresford, 1st Baron Beresford
LastAdmiral Sir John Donald Kelly

The Atlantic Fleet was a major fleet formation of the Royal Navy. There have been two occasions when it was formed and disbanded. The first was created in 1904 and lasted until 1914. The second lasted from 1919 until 1932.


Battleships of the Atlantic Fleet at Portland in 1921

On 14 December 1904 the Channel Fleet then based at Gibraltar Dockyard [1] was renamed the 'Atlantic Fleet'.[2] The Atlantic Fleet lasted until 1912 when rising tensions with Germany forced the Royal Navy to relook at fleet formations and the Atlantic Fleet became the 3rd Battle Squadron.[3] The Atlantic Fleet was based at Gibraltar to reinforce either the Channel Fleet or the Mediterranean Fleet, from January 1905 until April 1912.[4] [5]

The Atlantic Fleet was again formed after the end of World War I, when British naval forces were reorganised to reflect the changed economic and political situation in Europe. The fleet was created upon the disbandment of the Grand Fleet in April 1919, absorbing many, but not all of its elements. It was placed under a Commander-in-Chief, who for part of that year held the title of Commander-in-Chief Atlantic and Home Fleets, before the Home Fleet became the Reserve Fleet and a totally separate command. HMS Queen Elizabeth (1913) became the Fleet's flagship and served in that capacity until 1924.[6]

The fleet never fought in a naval battle in its short history. The fleet's only point of note in history was in 1931, during the Invergordon Mutiny. Sailors of the fleet openly refused to obey orders over a dispute on pay sparked by the government at the time.[7] The fleet's short history ended in 1932, when the Admiralty having been shaken by the events of the Invergordon Mutiny, renamed the fleet, as the Home Fleet.

Naval HQ

Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet (1904-1910)

Vice-Admiral Commanding, Atlantic Fleet (1910-1914)

Vice-Admiral Commanding, Atlantic Fleet
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir John Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe 20 December 1910 – 19 December 1911
2 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Cecil Burney 19 December 1911 – July, 1914

Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet (1919-1933)

Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet

Rear-Admiral, Second-in-Command, Atlantic Fleet

Commodore (D) Commanding, Destroyer Flotillas, Atlantic Fleet

Rear-Admiral (D) Commanding, Destroyer Flotillas, Atlantic Fleet

Captain of the Fleet, Atlantic Fleet

Components under this Command

At various times it encompassed naval formations and other ships not attached to other fleets. In addition to shore establishments including, barracks, dockyards, depots, hospitals, refitting and re-supply bases, naval bases or victualling yards. Those components that were part of this station are shown below.

Naval Forces (1905-1912)

Unit In Command Dates Notes/Ref
1 2nd Cruiser Squadron Rear-Admiral Commanding, 2nd Cruiser Squadron January 1905 – March 1909 replaced by 5th CSQ [4]
2 5th Cruiser Squadron Rear-Admiral Commanding, 5th Cruiser Squadron March 1909 – April 1912 [4]
3 Atlantic Fleet Flotilla Commodore, Atlantic Fleet Flotilla 1906–1907 no destroyers after 1907[4]
4 8 battleships Rear-Admiral, Second-in-Command, Atlantic Fleet January 1905 – March 1909 distributed[4]
5 7 pre-dreadnoughts Rear-Admiral, Second-in-Command, Atlantic Fleet March 1909 – April 1912 distributed[4]

Naval Forces (1919-1932)

Unit In Command Dates Notes/Ref
1 1st Battle Squadron Vice-Admiral Commanding, 1st Battle Squadron 1919—24 re-titled 2BS[5]
2 2nd Battle Squadron Vice-Admiral Commanding, 2nd Battle Squadron 1924—30 absorbed into 1BS[5]
3 3rd Battle Squadron Rear-Admiral Commanding, 3rd Battle Squadron 1926—30 to Mediterranean Station[5]
4 Battlecruiser Squadron Rear-Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron 1919—23 to Mediterranean Station[5]
5 Battlecruiser Squadron Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Squadron 1923—36 to Mediterranean Station[5]
6 Flying Squadron ? 1919—31 4 a/c carriers then 1 by 1921 + 6 seaplane carriers.[5][8]
7 1st Light Cruiser Squadron Rear-Admiral Commanding, 1st Light Cruiser Squadron 1919—24 to Mediterranean Station[5]
8 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron Rear-Admiral Commanding, 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron 1919—20 re-designated 2CSQ[5]
9 2nd Cruiser Squadron Rear-Admiral Commanding, 2nd Cruiser Squadron 1920—32 [5]
10 Destroyer Flotillas Atlantic Fleet Commodore (D) Commanding, Destroyer Flotillas, Atlantic Fleet 1919–20, 1928-32
11 1st Submarine Flotilla Captain (S) 1st Submarine Flotilla 1919—27 to Coast of Scotland Station[5]
12 2nd Submarine Flotilla Captain (S) 2nd Submarine Flotilla 1919—24 to Plymouth Station[5]
13 3rd Submarine Flotilla Captain (S) 3rd Submarine Flotilla 1919—22 [5]
14 5th Submarine Flotilla Captain (S) 5th Submarine Flotilla 1919—32 to Portsmouth Station[5]
15 6th Submarine Flotilla Captain (S) 6th Submarine Flotilla 1919—32 to Portland[5]

Naval Shore Establishments (Support)

Unit From To Ref
Gibraltar Dockyard 1904 1912 [9]
Scapa Flow 1919 1932 [10]


  1. Vego, Milan (2013). Austro-Hungarian Naval Policy, 1904-1914. Cambridge: Routledge. p. 18. ISBN 978-1-136-71338-5.
  2. National Archives records
  3. "Navy Estimates 1912-13". Hansard. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy Organisation and Ship Deployments 1900-1914". Gordon Smith, 8 August 2015. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 Watson, Dr Graham (2 September 2015). "Royal Navy Organisation and Ship Deployment, Inter-War Years 1919-1939". England: Gordon Smith. Retrieved 9 March 2020.
  6. "HMS Queen Elizabeth". Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  7. "The Invergordon Mutiny". Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  8. Field, Andrew (2004). Royal Navy Strategy in the Far East 1919-1939: Planning for War Against Japan. Cambridge: Routledge. p. 25. ISBN 978-1-135-77408-0.
  9. Vego. p.18.
  10. Vego. p.18.