Devonport Naval Base

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HM Naval Base, Devonport
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
HMS Drake (1969-active)
Part of Plymouth Area Command
Devonport in England
Devonport Naval Base.jpg
Devonport Naval Base in 2017
TypeNaval Base
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Navy
Controlled byNavy Board
Site history
In use1969-present
Installation information
Commodore Peter Coulson
OccupantsDevonport Flotilla

Devonport Naval Base or formally Her Majesty's Naval Base, Devonport (HMNB Devonport), is the largest naval base in Western Europe and is the sole nuclear repair and refuelling support facility for the Royal Navy.

Responsibility for the facilities and staff of the base is vested in the Naval Base Commander, Devonport who reports to the Director Naval Support who is based at Navy Command HQ.


It is one of three operating bases in the United Kingdom for the Royal Navy (the others being Clyde Naval Base and Portsmouth Naval Base). HMNB Devonport is located in Devonport, in the west of the city of Plymouth, England. Having begun as Plymouth Dockyard from 1690 to 1823 it was then renamed Devonport Dockyard until July 1969 when the dockyard was re designated a naval base. Shipbuilding ceased at Devonport in the early 1970s, but ship maintenance work has continued: the now privatised maintenance facilities are operated by Babcock Marine, a division of Babcock International Group, who took over the previous owner Devonport Management Limited (DML) in 2007. (DML had been running the Dockyard since privatisation, 1987.)

From 1934 until the early 21st century the naval barracks on the site was named HMS Drake (it had previously been known as HMS Vivid after the base ship of the same name). Recently, the name HMS Drake (and, more to the point, its command structure) has been extended to cover the entire base; the barracks buildings are now termed the Fleet Accommodation Centre. In the early 1970s the newly-styled 'Fleet Maintenance Base' was itself commissioned as HMS Defiance; it remained so until 1994, at which point it was amalgamated into HMS Drake.

On 14 October 1968 it was announced in the House Commons debate on the Ministry of Defence discussing part of the changes in the Naval Shore Command Organisation in the United Kingdom, that, the duties of Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth and Admiral-Superintendent, Devonport will be carried out by one Flag Officer.[1] In July 1969 the responsibilities the C-in-C Plymouth was subsumed into the new post of Commander-in-Chief, Naval Home Command a (4* rank) based in Portsmouth. The former C-in-C, Plymouth was re-graded as an area flag officer called Flag Officer, Plymouth.[2]

At the same time the title of the former Commodore Commanding, Royal Naval Barracks, Devonport was renamed to Commander, Devonport Naval Base serving as the deputy to Flag Officer, Plymouth. In December 1970 Flag Officer, Plymouth was additionally appointed Port Admiral Devonport, which in this extra role had overall responsibility for the naval base supporting staff. In 1996 the Plymouth Area Command under the Flag Officer, Plymouth and [[Port Admiral Devonport (joint title) was abolished and command responsibility for the base then passed in full to the Commander, Portsmouth Naval Base a 1-star post

HM Naval Base Devonport is the home port of the Devonport Flotilla which includes the Trafalgar-class submarines. In 2009 the Ministry of Defence announced the conclusion of a long-running review of the long-term role of three naval bases. Devonport will no longer be used as a base for attack submarines after these move to Faslane by 2017, and the Type 45 destroyers are based at Portsmouth. However, Devonport retains a long-term role as the dedicated home of the amphibious fleet, survey vessels and half the frigate fleet.[3]

The Naval Base consists of fourteen dry docks (docks numbered 1 to 15, but there is no 13 Dock), four miles (6 km) of waterfront, twenty-five tidal berths, five basins and an area of 650 acres (2.6 km²). The dockyard employs 2,500 service personnel and civilians, supports circa 400 local firms and contributes approximately 10% to the income of Plymouth.[4] It is the base for the Trafalgar-class nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines and the main refitting base for all Royal Navy nuclear submarines. Work was completed by Carillion in 2002 to build a refitting dock to support the Vanguard-class Trident missile nuclear ballistic missile submarines. Devonport serves as headquarters for the Flag Officer Sea Training, which is responsible for the training of all the ships of the Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, along with many from foreign naval services. The nuclear submarine refit base was put into special measures in 2013 by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and it could be 2020 before enhanced monitoring ceases. Safety concerns on ageing facilities, stretched resources and increasing demand are blamed for the measures.[4] The base also accomodates the Devonport Flotilla an operational formation that is under the control of the Commander, Devonport Flotilla.

Base HQ

Port Admiral, Devonport (1970-1996)

Naval Base Commander, Devonport (1969-1996)

  1. Commodore Jack M. Henry: July 1969-June 1971
  2. Commodore Stephen F. Berthon: June 1971-October 1973
  3. Commodore Robin W. Garson: October 1973-May 1975
  4. Commodore John R. Grindle: May 1975-October 1977
  5. Commodore John H. Carlill: October 1977-February 1980
  6. Commodore William A. Higgins: February 1980-1982
  7. Commodore Richard J. Husk: 1984-April 1986
  8. Commodore Nigel I.C. Kettlewell: April 1986-February 1988
  9. Commodore James Carine: February 1988-March 1989
  10. Commodore Christopher J.S. Craig: March 1989-March 1990
  11. Commodore D.G. Wilson: September 1990-March 1992
  12. Commodore Michael R. Thomas: March 1992-October 1993
  13. Commodore K.A. Johnson: October 1993-1996
Captain of the Port, Devonport (1969-1988)
  1. Captain Peter Keith-Welsh: July 1969-October 1969
  2. Captain Dennis K.L. Learmount: October 1969-November 1971
  3. Captain Michael C.M. Mansergh: November 1971-December 1973
  4. Captain Peter J. Shaw: December 1973-July 1976
  5. Captain John R. Wadman: July 1976-October 1978
  6. Captain Arthur Checksfield: October 1978-April 1980
  7. Captain Keith S. Pitt: April 1980-January 1982
  8. Captain Peter H. Wright; January-December 1982
  9. Captain Charles G. Le Mesurier: December 1982-February 1984
  10. Captain Christopher P.R. Belton: February 1984-October 1985
  11. Captain William H.H. McLeod: October 1985-1987
  12. Captain John C.W. Lock: 1988

Naval Base Commander, Devonport (1996-current)

  1. Commodore Jonathan A. Burch: 1996-February 1998
  2. Commodore Jonathon Reeve: February 1998-March 2000
  3. Commodore Richard F. Cheadle: March 2000-September 2002
  4. Commodore Andrew D.H. Mathews: September 2002-April 2005
  5. Commodore Simon R. Lister: April 2005-April 2008
  6. Commodore Ian M. Jess: April 2008-August 2010
  7. Commodore Steven R. Dearden: August 2010-July 2012
  8. Commodore Graham T.Little: July 2012-January 2015
  9. Commodore Ian Shipperley: January 2015-July 2018
  10. Commodore Peter Coulson: July 2018-


  1. Commons, House of (14 October 1968). "Area Flag Officer, Plymouth- Volume 770". Hansard.
  2. Commons, House of (10 March 1969). "DEFENCE (NAVY) ESTIMATES, 1969–70, VOTE A. - vol 779 cc991-1120". Hansard. Retrieved 12 March 2020.
  3. Hansard House of Commons (23 February 2015) Defence questions
  4. 4.0 4.1 Morris, Jonathan. "Devonport nuclear base has special measures extended". BBC News. Retrieved 14 July 2015.