Channel Squadron (1709-1746)
|Channel Squadron (1709-1746)|
Ensign of the Channel Squadron
under its last Commander-in-Chief
|Country||Kingdom of Great Britain|
|Role||Cruising, and Patrolling|
|Part of||Channel Station|
|Garrison/HQ||Spithead, Hampshire, England|
|First||Admiral of the Blue|
Sir John Norris.
|Last||Admiral of the White|
Sir John Balchen.
The Channel Squadron (1709-1746) and unofficially known as the Channel Fleet was a series of temporary naval formations first formed in under the Navy Royal during the sixteenth century, then later the Commonwealth Navy in the mid-17th century and again at the start of the 18th century as part of the Royal Navy. It would operate from the naval anchorage at Spithead and was supported by the shore facilities at Portsmouth Dockyard. In 1746 it was renamed the Western Squadron and moved its headquarters to Plymouth Dockyard.
This squadron was commanded by the Commander-in-Chief, English Channel.
Initially the English Navy had organized its fleet into sub-commands namely squadrons from as early as 1205  and certainly during the 16th century. A channel squadron was operating out of Portsmouth from around 1523.By 1560 The Navy Royal had three functioning squadrons one in the Channel, and the Irish Sea and another in the North Sea.. During the Spanish Armada campaign a detached Channel/Western squadron was reassigned from the main Navy Royal Fleet and sent to Plymouth under the command of Vice-Admiral Sir Francis Drake. From 1509 until 1603 Vice-Admirals commanding particular fleets were styled so as to denote he was junior to the Lord Admiral of England these flag officers were formally appointed by the crown.
At the end of the English Civil War (1642–1651) the Kingdom of England became the Commonwealth of England (1649–1660) and the former Navy Royal became the Commonwealth Navy. Between 1654 and 1658 the Commonwealth of England was renamed the Protectorate. The commonwealth navy was controlled and directed by a General at Sea of which only six were appointed between 1649 and 1660. In 1660 the Monarch of England of England was restored as head of State but with far less power than they had before, the Parliament of England now controlled the country.
In 1709 the Royal Navy Channel Squadron was formed at based at Spithead, Hampshire, England under the command of Sir John Norris. In 1715 Norris was reassigned to command the Baltic Fleet and sent to the Baltic Sea to support a coalition of naval forces from Russia, Denmark and Hanover taking in the Great Northern War. In 1729 Admiral Norris returned to the Spithead Station for a second tenure as CINC. In March 1744 he resigned his post over the Admiralty's attempts to override his authority in setting strategy in response to renewed hostilities against France.
Following Admiral Norris's resignation the station was then commanded by Sir John Balchen until 1746 when the Admiralty issued orders to centralize all existing naval commands in the English Channel including Spithead and those at the Downs, Narrow Seas , Portsmouth , and Plymouth, to be under the control of Admiral Lord Anson then the Commander-in-Chief, Western Squadron. He then assumed the post of Commander-in-Chief, English Channel, The Spithead command was then merged into the Portsmouth Station.
Commander-in-Chief, English Channel
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