Channel Squadron (Commonwealth and Protectorate Navy)

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Channel Squadron
Flag of the General at Sea 1650 to 1659.gif
Flag of the General at Sea
Commonwealth and Protectorate (1650-1659)
CountryFlag of the Commonwealth of England and General at Sea 1649 to 1651.png Commonwealth of England
Flag of the Protectorate 1653 to 1659.jpg The Protectorate
BranchFlag Commonwealth and Protectorate Navy 1658 to 1660.gif Commonwealth Navy
RoleCruising, and Patrolling
Garrison/HQPortsmouth, Hampshire, England

General at Sea, Sir Robert Blake

The Channel Squadron (1649-1657) was a series of temporary naval formations first formed 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

The squadron was usually commanded by a Vice-Admiral], or General at Sea

Historical Overview

Initially the English Navy had organized its fleet into sub-commands namely squadrons from as early as 1205 [1] 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.[2]. 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.[3] 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.[4]

At the end of the English Civil War (1642–1651) the Kingdom of England became the Commonwealth of England (1649–1653,1659–1660) and the former Navy Royal became the Parliamentary Navy in 1642. In 1649 the parliamentary navy was renamed the Commonwealth Navy. Between 1654 and 1658 the Commonwealth of England was renamed the Commonwealth of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland or the Protectorate. 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 established a Channel Squadron that operated out of Spithead, Hampshire, England under the command of Sir John Norris.[5]

In Command

Vice-Admiral in the Channel (1649-1652)

  1. Vice-Admiral Sir William Batten, June 1649 - 1650.
  2. Vice-Admiral Sir George Ayscue, 1651 - 1652.

Admiral Commanding in the Channel (1652-1657)

  1. Admiral Sir George Ayscue 1652
  2. Admiral and General at Sea, Sir Robert Blake, 1652-1657 (commanding, channel squadron and at the downs/narrows seas) [6]

Vice-Admiral in the Channel (1659-1660)

  1. Vice-Admiral John Lawson, 1659-1660.[7]


  1. Rose, Susan (2013). "3:The Navy of England understanding the resources of the crown". England's Medieval Navy 1066-1509: Ships, Men & Warfare. Barnsley, England: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 9781473853546.
  2. Corbett, Julian Stafford (1917). "The Navy of Elizabeth". Drake and the Tudor navy, with a history of the rise of England as a maritime power. London, England: London : Longmans, Green. p. 347.
  3. Hammer. p.203.
  4. Rodger, N.A.M. (1997). "Social History of Officers 1509-1603". The safeguard of the sea : a naval history of Britain. Vol 1., 660-1649. London, England: Penguin. p. 298. ISBN 9780140297249.
  5. Runyan, Timothy J. (1987). Ships, Seafaring, and Society: Essays in Maritime History. Detroit, Michigan, USA: Wayne State University Press. p. 176. ISBN 0814319912.
  6. Baumber, Michael (1989). General-at-sea : Robert Blake and the seventeenth-century revolution in naval warfare (1. publ. ed.). London: J. Murray. p. 155. ISBN 9780719547065.
  7. "Biography of John Lawson". British Civil War Project. 17 March 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2019.