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Gibraltar Command
HMS Cormorant (1900-46) HMS Rooke (1946-70)
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryFlag of Gibraltar from 1939-1982.png Gibraltar
AllegianceFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
RoleShore Command
Part ofMediterranean Station (1870-1939)
North Atlantic Station (1939-1943)
Gibraltar and Mediterranean Approaches (1943-1946)
Mediterranean Station (1946-1967)
Western Fleet (1967-1971)
Fleet Command (1971-1992)
FirstCaptain Augustus Phillimore
LastRear-Admiral Geoffrey Biggs

Gibraltar was a naval base and shore command of the Royal Navy established in 1704. It was controlled and directed by various senior commissioned and flag officers who were appointed under many different titles. In 1992 it was abolished as an independent naval command of the Royal Navy and was replaced by a Ministry of Defence joint-services command known as British Forces Gibraltar.


In ancient Greek mythology Gibraltar was Calpe, one of the Pillars of Hercules, which marked the edge of the Mediterranean and the known world. In 711 Tariq ibn Ziyad, the Muslim governor of Tangier, landed at Gibraltar to launch the Islamic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. The Rock that took his name - Jabal Tariq (Mountain of Tariq) eventually became Gibraltar.

Gibraltar became part of the unified Kingdom of Spain and remained under Spanish rule until 1704. It was captured during the War of the Spanish Succession by an Anglo-Dutch fleet in the name of Charles VI of Austria, the Habsburg contender to the Spanish throne. At the war's end, Spain ceded the territory to Britain under the terms of the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713. The British garrison was formally declared a colony in 1830.

In the years after Trafalgar, Gibraltar became a major base in the Peninsular War. The colony grew rapidly during the 19th and early 20th centuries, becoming a key British possession in the Mediterranean. It was a key stopping point for vessels en route to India via the Suez Canal. A large British naval base was constructed there at great expense at the end of the 19th century.

Gibraltar as permanent Royal Navy shore command was established from 1870. It was commanded by various senior commissioned and flag officers appointed under different names. Under the reforming leadership of First Sea Lord Admiral John "Jacky" Fisher, Gibraltar became the main base for the British Atlantic Fleet from 1904 until 1912.

Gibraltar command was part of the larger Mediterranean Station from 1870 to 1939, it then became part of the North Atlantic Station until 1943, It was next apart of Gibraltar and Mediterranean Approaches command until 1946 when it then became a component of the Mediterranean Station until 1967. In 1967 the Mediterranean Station was abolished and responsibility for Gibraltar passed to the Western Fleet until 1971.

The command then became subordinate command of Fleet Command until 1992 when it was abolished as separate command of the Royal Navy and was replaced by a unified services command known as British Forces Gibraltar.

In Command

Gibraltar Naval Base and the Port of Gibraltar in 1965

Naval Officer, Gibraltar (1730-1742)

  1. Captain Robert Hayes, 16 March, 1730 - 17 September, 1739.[1]
  2. Captain Christopher Robinson, 17 September, 1739 - 10 August, 1742.[2]

Senior Officer, Gibraltar (1870-1915)

Senior Naval Officer, Gibraltar (1915-1917)

Senior Officer, Gibraltar (1917-1920)

Rear-Admiral-in-Charge, Gibraltar (1920-1922)

Senior Officer, Gibraltar (1923-1925)

Rear-Admiral-in-Charge, Gibraltar (1925-1939)

Vice-Admiral-in-Charge, Gibraltar (1939-1943)

Commodore-in-Charge, Gibraltar (1941-1943)

This officer was second in command at Gibraltar and superintendent of the Gibraltar Dockyard;

  1. Commodore, Second Class Albert John Robertson, 26 June, 1941 – 19 August, 1943, (also Commodore-Superintendent, Gibraltar Dockyard).

Flag Officer-in-Charge, Gibraltar (1943-1945)

Commodore-in-Charge, Gibraltar (1943-1945)

This officer was second in command at Gibraltar and superintendent of the Gibraltar Dockyard;

  1. Commodore, Second Class Hugh Richard Marrack, 19 August, 1943 – 1 July, 1945, (also Commodore Superintendent, Gibraltar Dockyard).

Vice-Admiral-in-Charge, Gibraltar (1945-1948

Flag Officer, Gibraltar (1948-1992)

Components under this Command

Naval Forces

# Name Dates
1 11th Cruiser Squadron 09-10.1939.
2 6th Destroyer Flotilla 09.1935-04.1936.
3 13th Destroyer Flotilla 09.1939-05.1945.
4 12th Minesweeping Flotilla 01.1943-07.1943.
5 13th Minesweeping Flotilla 01.1943-10.1943.
6 11th Sloop Flotilla 1918
7 38th Escort Group 1.09.44-4.05.45.
8 41st Escort Group 1.09.44-4.05.45.
9 Gibraltar Escort Force 01.1943-02.07.1943.

Naval Shore Establishments

# Name Ref
1 Gibraltar Dockyard
2 Royal Naval Air Station, Gibraltar
3 Royal Naval Hospital, Gibraltar
4 Victualling Yard, Gibraltar

Other Naval Forces based at Gibraltar

These forces were based at Gibraltar but not under the command of the flag officer in charge instead were provided with docking, repair, resupply and fueling support. Whilst stationed at Gibraltar the Atlantic Fleet's role was to reinforce either the Channel Fleet or the Mediterranean Fleet when needed.

# Name Dates
1 Atlantic Fleet 1904-1912
2 Force H

Additional Notes and Joint Titles

From November 1939 until December 1943 all office holders of the Gibraltar station either Rear-Admiral or Vice-Admiral in charge were additionally titled Flag Officer Commanding, North Atlantic Station. From December, 1943 to June, 1946 they were additionally titled Flag Officer Commanding, Gibraltar and Mediterranean Approaches that were both larger area commands with extra responsibilities. The same officers also held the posts of Admiral-Superintendent, Gibraltar Dockyard. From 1971 until 1992 Flag Officer, Gibraltar held the joint title of Port Admiral, Gibraltar.[3]


  1. Harrison, Simon (2010–2019). "Naval Officer at Gibraltar". Cy Harrison. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  2. Simon Harrison. Naval Officer at Gibraltar.
  3. "Admiralty Waters (Gibraltar) Order, 1972:Control over Admiralty Waters shall be vested in the Senior Naval Officer (whose title, at the time of making this Order, is the Flag Officer and Port Admiral, Gibraltar". Gibraltar: Government of Gibraltar. p. 4. Retrieved 28 September 2020.