Diego Garcia

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HM Naval Base, Diego Garcia
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryFlag of the British Indian Ocean Territory.png Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory
AllegianceFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
TypeNaval Base & Station
Garrison/HQRN Base, Diego Garcia,

Diego Garcia was a naval base and area of operations of the British Royal Navy and Royal Indian Navy that was part of the Chagos Islands or (Chagos Archipelago). It was first established during the Napoleonic Wars in 1814 with the British using it until at least the 1960's. Today the Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia which is a British Ministry of Defence facility leased to the United States Navy.

The commanding officer was called Naval Officer-in-Charge, Diego Garcia usually a Captain or Commander.


Map of RN Bases and Ports Indian Ocean in World War Two. © Gordon Smith https://www.naval-history.net

Diego Garcia and the rest of the Chagos islands were uninhabited until the late 18th century. In 1778, the French Governor of Mauritius granted Monsieur Dupuit de la Faye the island of Diego Garcia, and evidence exists of temporary French visits to collect coconuts and fish. Several Frenchmen living in "a dozen huts" abandoned Diego Garcia when the British East India Company attempted to establish a settlement there in April 1786.

Diego Garcia became a colony of the UK after the Napoleonic Wars as part of the Treaty of Paris (1814), and from 1814 to 1965 it was administered from Mauritius. From 1881 until 1888, Diego Garcia was the location of two coaling stations for steamships crossing the Indian Ocean.

In 1914, the island was visited by the German light cruiser SMS Emden halfway through its commerce-raiding cruise during the early months of World War I. During World War II in 1942, the British opened RAF Station, Diego Garcia and established an advanced flying boat unit at the East Point Plantation to aid the search of Japanese and German submarines and surface raiders operating in the area.

In February 1942, British also opened small Royal Navy base on the island that was a fueling and operating base of the Eastern Fleet in order to avoid any Japanese attack until 1944. At Cannon Point, two 6-inch naval guns were installed by a detachment of the Royal Marines. They were later manned by Mauritian and Indian Coastal Artillery troops. Following the conclusion of hostilities, the station and base was closed on 30 April 1946.

In the early 1960s, the UK was withdrawing its military presence from the Indian Ocean, not including the airfield at RAF Gan to the north of Diego Garcia in the Maldives (which remained open until 1976), and agreed to permit the United States to establish a naval communication station and later a large naval base on one of its island territories there. Diego Garcia today remains a part of the British Indian Ocean Territory.


The atoll is located 3,535 km (2,197 mi) east of Tanzania's coast, 1,796 km (1,116 mi) south-southwest of the southern tip of India (at Kanyakumari), and 4,723 km (2,935 mi) west-northwest of the west coast of Australia.

Naval HQ

Map of Diego Garcia 1980 by the CIA.

Naval Officer-in-Charge, Diego Garcia

Naval Officer-in-Charge, Diego Garcia
Rank Insig Name Term Notes/Ref
1 Captain RN Captain Rank Insignia.png ? ? <
2 ? ? ? ?

Components under this Command

Air Sections

Royal Naval Air Section, R.A.F. Station Andrakaka.

Unit Native Name Location Active Ref
Royal Naval Air Section, Andrakaka HMS Ironclad Andrakaka, Diego Suarez 24 May 1942 - 16 September 1943 [1]


  1. Drury, Tony (2010–2020). "Andrakaka". www.royalnavyresearcharchive.org.uk. T. Drury. Retrieved 27 September 2020.