Home Fleet

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Home Fleet
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Active1902–1904, 1907–1912, 1932–1967
CountryFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
AllegianceBritish Empire
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
TypeFleet
Part ofAdmiralty (1902-1964), Navy Department (1964-1967)
Fleet HQScapa Flow
Commanders
In CommandVice-Admiral Commanding, Home Fleet
FirstVice-Admiral Sir Gerard Henry Uctred Noel
LastVice-Admiral Sir Gerard Henry Uctred Noel
In CommandCommander-in-Chief, Home Fleet
FirstVice-Admiral Sir Arthur Knyvet Wilson
LastAdmiral Sir John Byng Frewen

The Home Fleet was a major naval formation of the Royal Navy that operated from the United Kingdom's home waters from 1902 to 1904, then 1907 to 1912 and finally 1932 to 1967 when it was unified with the Mediterranean Fleet to create the Western Fleet.

History

1902 to 1904

HMS Neptune the dreadnought class battleship leading ships of the Home Fleet circa 1904-05

On 1 October 1902, the Admiral-Superintendent of Naval Reserves, then Vice-Admiral Sir Gerard H. U. Noel, was given the additional appointment of Vice-Admiral Commanding, Home Fleet, and allotted a rear-admiral to serve under him as commander of the Home Squadron."... the nucleus of the Home Fleet would consist of the four Port Guard ships, which would be withdrawn from their various scattered dockyards and turned into a unified and permanent sea-going command – the Home Squadron – based at Portland. Also under the direction of the Vice-Admiral Commanding, Home Fleet would be the Coast Guard ships, which would continue to be berthed for the most part in their respective district harbours in order to carry out their local duties, but would join the Home Squadron for sea work at least three times per year, at which point the assembled force – the Home Squadron and the Coast Guard vessels – would be known collectively as the Home Fleet." Rear-Admiral George Atkinson-Willes was Second-in-Command of the Home Fleet, with his flag in the battleship HMS Empress of India, at this time. In May 1903 Noel was succeeded as Vice-Admiral Commanding, Home Fleet by Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson. On 14 December 1904, the Channel Fleet was re-styled the Atlantic Fleet and the Home Fleet became the Channel Fleet.

1907 to 1912

In 1907, the title of the commanding officer Home Fleet was changed to commander-in-chief. The Home Fleet was reformed with Vice-Admiral Francis Charles B. Bridgeman in command, succeeded by Admiral Sir William May in 1909. Bridgeman took command again in 1911, and in the same year was succeeded by Admiral Sir George Callaghan. On 29 March 1912, a new structure of the fleet was announced, which came into force on 1 May 1912. The former Home Fleet, was split up into four divisions, was divided into the First, Second and Third Fleets as part of the new Home Fleets. The Home Fleets were the Navy's unified home commands in British waters from 1912 to 1914. On 4 August 1914, as the First World War was breaking out, John Jellicoe was ordered to take command of the Home Fleets, which by his appointment order was renamed to the Grand Fleet.

1932 to 1967

Ships of the Home Fleet at anchor in the River Clyde Scotland in June 1938. It includes the aircraft carrier HMS Courageous, the battleships HMS Nelson, HMS Rodney and HMS Royal Sovereign, cruisers HMS Glasgow and HMS Newcastle and destroyers HMS Fortune, HMS Fury, HMS Foxhound, HMS Fame and HMS Foresight.

The name "Home Fleet" was formed again in March 1932, as the new name for the Atlantic Fleet, following the Invergordon Mutiny. The Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet in 1933 was Admiral Sir John Kelly. The Home Fleet comprised the flagship H.M.S. Nelson leading a force that included the 2nd Battle Squadron (five more battleships), the Battlecruiser Squadron (Hood and Renown), the 2nd Cruiser Squadron (Vice-Admiral Edward Astley-Rushton), CB, CMG aboard Dorsetshire (three cruisers), three destroyer flotillas (27), a submarine flotilla (six), two aircraft carriers and associated vessel.

Second World War

The Home Fleet was the Royal Navy's main battle force in European waters during the Second World War. On 3 September 1939, under Admiral Forbes flying his flag in Nelson at Scapa Flow, it consisted of the 2nd Battle Squadron, the Battle Cruiser Squadron, 18th Cruiser Squadron, Rear-Admiral, Destroyers, Rear-Admiral, Submarines (2nd Submarine Flotilla, Dundee, 6th Submarine Flotilla, Blyth, Northumberland), Vice-Admiral Commanding, Aircraft Carriers (Vice-Admiral L. V. Wells, with Ark Royal, Furious, and Pegasus), and the Orkney and Shetlands force. Its chief responsibility was to keep Germany's Kriegsmarine from breaking out of the North Sea. For this purpose, the First World War base at Scapa Flow was reactivated as it was well placed for interceptions of ships trying to run the blockade.

The two most surprising losses of the Home Fleet during the early part of the war were the sinking of the old battleship Royal Oak by the German submarine U-47 while supposedly safe in Scapa Flow, and the loss of the pride of the Navy, the battlecruiser Hood, to the German battleship Bismarck. 2nd Battle Squadron under Admiral Blagrove was effectively disestablished when he died in the sinking of Royal Oak.

The operational areas of the Home Fleet were not circumscribed, and units were detached to other zones quite freely. However, the southern parts of the North Sea and the English Channel were made separate commands for light forces, and the growing intensity of the Battle of the Atlantic led to the creation of Western Approaches Command. Only with the destruction of the German battleship KMS Tirpitz in 1944 did the Home Fleet assume a lower priority, and most of its heavy units were withdrawn to be sent to the Far East.

Post War

As the Cold War began, greater emphasis was placed on protecting the North Atlantic sea lanes from the Soviet Union in concert with other Western countries. Admiral Sir Rhoderick McGrigor supervised combined Western Union exercises involving ships from the British, French, and Dutch navies in June–July 1949. Admiral McGrigor flew his flag from the aircraft carrier Implacable. Also taking part in the exercises were Victorious and Anson, along with cruisers and destroyers. During the exercise, the combined force paid a visit to Mount's Bay in Cornwall from 30 June – 4 July 1949. Admiral Sir Philip Vian, Commander-in-Chief from 1950 to 1952, flew his flag in Vanguard. In late 1951, Theseus joined the fleet as flagship of the 3rd Aircraft Carrier Squadron.

From 1947 to 1957 superfluous battleships and aircraft carriers were assigned to the Training Squadron, Home Fleet headquartered at Portland to provide basic training. The carriers stationed here were mobilised as helicopter carriers for the Suez operation in 1956. In December 1951 the Admiralty authorised the creation of a new Heavy Squadron to be assigned to the Home Fleet, consisting of the battleship HMS Vanguard, aircraft carriers, and cruisers.[34] Its commanding officer was known as Flag Officer, Aircraft Carriers who had administrative responsibility for all the operational carriers; the squadron was disbanded in October 1954.

After the Second World War, the Royal Navy's geographic commands were gradually merged into fewer but larger formations (1954 to 1971).[36] After 1951 the term flotilla applied to the higher command organisation of squadrons in the Home and Mediterranean Fleets. The squadrons of the Home Fleet were grouped under a Flag Officer, Flotillas, Home Fleet, who became the main seagoing flag officer. A similar arrangement applied to the Flag Officer, Flotillas, Mediterranean Fleet. In the Far East the Flag Officer 5th Cruiser Squadron became Flag Officer Second in Command Far East Fleet with similar seagoing duties. Increasingly the term 'Submarine Flotilla' was used to describe the squadrons under command of the Flag Officer Submarines.

The Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, gained an additional NATO responsibility as Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Atlantic (CINCEASTLANT), as part of Allied Command Atlantic, when the NATO military command structure was established in 1953. CINCEASTLANT was set up at the Northwood Headquarters in northwest London. The Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet still flew his flag however in Tyne at Portsmouth. During Exercise Mainbrace in 1952, NATO naval forces came together for the first time to practice the defence of northern Europe, Denmark and Norway. The resulting McMahon Act difficulties caused by potential British control of the United States Navy's attack carriers armed with nuclear weapons led to the creation of a separate Striking Fleet Atlantic, directly responsible to the commander of the U.S. Navy's Atlantic Fleet, in his NATO position as SACLANT, by the end of 1952.[37] The submarine tender Maidstone was the fleet's flagship in 1956.

In the spring of 1960, Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet moved permanently ashore to Northwood, while Flag Officer, Flotillas, Home, retained effective control at sea as the C-in-C's deputy. Cecil Hampshire writes that the ships with the fleet in 1960 included the flagship Tyne, a destroyer depot ship which by then was more than 20 years old; carriers Victorious and HMS Albion; fast minelayer Apollo; seventeen destroyers and frigates; and sixteen submarines. Another aircraft carrier, cruisers Lion and Blake; the first four guided missile destroyers, and other ships were under construction.

Final Years

In February 1963 all remaining frigate and destroyer squadrons in the Home, Mediterranean and Far East Fleets were merged into new Escort Squadrons. In April 1963, the naval unit at the Northwood Headquarters, in northwest London, was commissioned as HMS Warrior under the command of the then Captain of the Fleet. In December 1966, all remaining squadrons in the Home Fleet were disbanded. In 1967 the Home Fleet was amalgamated with the Mediterranean Fleet. With its area of responsibility greatly increased, the amalgamated formation was redesignated the Western Fleet.

Fleet HQ

Vice-Admiral Commanding, Home Fleet (1902-1904)

Vice-Admiral Commanding, Home Fleet
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Gerard Henry Uctred Noel 1 October 1902 – 21 May 1903

Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet (1903-1967)

Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Arthur Knyvet Wilson 21 May 1903 – 31 December 1904
2 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Francis Charles Bridgeman Bridgeman 5 March 1907 – 24 March 1909
3 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir William Henry May 24 March 1909 – 1911
4 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Francis Charles Bridgeman Bridgeman 25 March 1911 – 5 December 1911
5 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir George Astley Callaghan 5 December 1911 – 31 July 1912
6 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir John Donald Kelly March 1932 – September 1933
7 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir William Henry Dudley Boyle September 1933 – August 1935
8 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Roger Roland Charles Backhouse August 1935 – April 1938
9 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Charles Morton Forbes April 1938 – December 1940
10 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir John Cronyn Tovey December 1940 – May 1943
11 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Bruce Fraser May 1943 – June 1944
12 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Henry Ruthven Moore 14 June 1944 – 24 November 1945
13 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Sir Edward Syfret November 1945 – January 1948
14 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Rhoderick Robert McGrigor January 1948 – January 1950
15 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Philip Louis Vian January 1950 – June 1952
16 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir George Elvey Creasy January 1952 – January, 1954
17 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Michael Maynard Denny January 1954 – January 1956
18 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir John Arthur Symons Eccles January 1956 – January 1958
19 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir William Wellclose Davis January 1958 – July 1960
20 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Wilfrid John Wentworth Woods July 1960 – January 1963
21 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Charles Madden, 2nd Baronet January 1963 – July 1965
22 Admiral Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir John Byng Frewen July 1965 – October 1967

Second-in-Command, Home Fleet (1902-12, 1941-46)

Second-in-Command, Home Fleet
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg George L. Atkinson-Willes October 1902 – May 1903
2 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Edmund S. Poe May 1903 – June 1904
3 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Charles J. Barlow June – December 1904
4 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Archibald Berkeley 5 December 1911 – 31 July 1912
5 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir George A. Callaghan August 1910 – December 1911
6 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir John R. Jellicoe December 1911 – 31 July 1912
7 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Alban T. B. Curteis 1941 – June 1942
8 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Bruce A. Fraser June 1942 – June 1943
9 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Henry R. Moore June 1943 – June 1944
10 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Frederick H. G. Dalrymple-Hamilton June 1944 – April 1945
11 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Rhoderick R. McGrigor April – July 1945
12 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Sir Angus E. M. B. Cunninghame Graham July 1945 – October 1946

Flag Officer Second in Command, Home Fleet (1966-67)

Flag Officer Second in Command, Home Fleet
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Michael Patrick Pollock 1966 – 1967.[1]

Rear-Admiral, Home Fleet Aircraft Carriers (1942)

Rear-Admiral, Home Fleet Aircraft Carriers
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Arthur Lumley St George Lyster 11 July 1942 – 29 October, 1942.[2]

Vice-Admiral, Home Fleet Aircraft Carriers (1942-43)

Rear-Admiral, Home Fleet Aircraft Carriers
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Vice-Admiral Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Arthur Lumley St George Lyster 29 October, 1942 – 26 March, 1943.[3]

Rear-Admiral, Home Fleet Aircraft Carriers (1943)

Rear-Admiral, Home Fleet Aircraft Carriers
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Clement Moody 21 May 1943 – 28 October, 1943.[4]

Rear-Admiral, Escort Carriers (1943-44)

Rear-Admiral, Escort Carriers
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Arthur William La Touche Bissett 28 October 1943 – June, 1944.[5]

Rear-Admiral, Aircraft Carriers (1946)

Rear-Admiral, Aircraft Carriers
Rank Flag Name Term
1 Rear-Admiral Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png Charles Henry Lawrence Woodhouse March 1946 – April, 1946.

Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet (1908-1967)

References

  1. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  P". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 29 December 2020.
  2. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945 -- L". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  3. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945 -- L". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  4. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  -  M". www.unithistories.com. Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  5. Admiralty, British, (Feb 1944). The Navy List. Flag Officers in Commission. H.M.S.O. London. England. p.2021.