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HMS Elfin
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Part ofRosyth Command
Garrison/HQRN Base, Blyth, Northumberland, England
FirstCommander George Chesterman Phillips
LastCaptain Gilbert Palmer Claridge

Blyth was a naval base and former Royal Navy area command established in 1914 and existed until 1946.[1] HMS Elfin was a submarine base during World War II.[2][3]


Port of Blyth in 1945.

The Port of Blyth dates from the 12th century the modern town of Blyth did not start to develop until the 18th century when a quay was erected for the shipment of coal. At this time there were also fourteen saltpans producing more than one thousand tons of salt each year. The first report of shipbuilding appears in 1748 but it was not until the early part of the 20th century that Shipbuilding rose to a formidable level.[4]

The making of salt in the 18th century was dogged by taxation. This taxation increased further during the Napoleonic wars to provide funds for the military. In 1825 the taxation of salt was abolished, but by this time the salt industry was in marked decline. The last saltpan was destroyed in 1876 and the industry ceased.[5]

The port continued to prosper and in 1853 the Blyth Harbour and Dock Company was formed. The subsequent Harbour Act of 1858 permitted dredging of the harbour to commence. This dredging allowed larger ships to enter the port and so increased dramatically the amount of coal shipped out. In 1855 250,000 tons of coal were exported. By 1900 this had increased to 3 million tons.[6]

At the beginning of the 20th century the Blyth Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company had five dry docks and four building slipways and was one of the largest shipbuilding yards on the North East coast. During the First and Second World Wars, the Blyth shipyards built numerous ships for the Department of Admiralty including the first aircraft carrier, H.M.S. Ark Royal in 1914. Shipbuilding continued in Blyth after the Second World War until 1967 when the shipyard was closed down.[7]


Blyth is situated on the north east coast of England within the county of Northumberland. It lies approximately 20 kilometres (13 miles) north east of Newcastle upon Tyne.

In Command

Naval Officer-in-Charge, Blyth (1941-1946)

  1. Commander George Chesterman Phillips, 9 September, 1941 - February, 1943.[8]
  2. Captain Gilbert Palmer Claridge, February, 1943 - July, 1945.[9]

Commanding Officer, HMS Elfin (Submarine Base, Blyth) (1940-1942)

  1. Commander George Chesterman Phillips, 16 October, 1940 - October, 1942.[10]

Senior Officer, (Submarines) (1940-1942)

  1. Commander George Chesterman Phillips, 16 October, 1940 - October, 1942.[11]


Blyth Shipyard had five docks as follows: 480ft by 61ft, 350ft by 55ft, 345 ft by 45ft, 320ft by 55ft, 285ft by 47ft; including sheer legs to lift 50 tons, large steam cranes, ample quay berthage, and every facility for doing all classes of repair work to hull, engines, and boilers of vessel.


  1. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy, Rosyth Command 1939-1945". Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  2. "THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR". Imperial War Museums. London, England.: Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  3. Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony (2 November 2017). "Blyth - The Dreadnought Project". Harley and Lovell. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  4. "Northumberland Communities". Northumberland County Council. 2003. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  5. Northumberland County Council (2003)
  6. Northumberland County Council (2003)
  7. Northumberland County Council (2003)
  8. Houterman and Koppes
  9. Houterman and Koppes
  10. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "World War II unit histories & officers: P". Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  11. Houterman and Koppes. RN Officers P.