H.M. Indian Navy

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H.M. Indian Navy
Her Majesty's Indian Navy
Naval Ensign of the Bombay Marine 1801 to 1830.png
Active1 May, 1830–April, 1863
CountryFlag of British India (1885-1947).png British India
AllegianceFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
Garrison/HQBombay Dockyard, India
FirstCaptain Sir Charles Malcolm, C.B. R.N.
LastCommodore 1st Class John James Frushard, I.N.

The H.M. Indian Navy (H.M.I.N.) was a successor naval force to East India Company's Bombay Marine and a precursor of the later Royal Indian Navy it was established on 1 May, 1830 as the Indian Navy. In 1858 when it was restyled as H.M. Indian Navy.[1] In April 1863 H.M. Indian Navy was renamed back to the Bombay Marine until 1877 when it was renamed as H.M. Indian Marine.


The modern Indian Navy's foundation dates from a squadron of ships that was sent out by the East Indies Company to the Swally, Surat on 5 September 1612, under the command of Captain Thomas Bast, to protect British trading interests from the Portuguese.[2] until 1686, this force was known as the Honourable East Indies Company's Marine, with headquarters initially in Surat, and then Bombay, to where the Company formally transferring its interests in 1685. In August 1686 the East India Company's Indian Marine transferred its base from from Surat due to continual attacks by the Martha Navy to Bombay, as it was a more protected harbour and the Indian Marine changed its name to the Bombay Marine.[3]

In 1829 the Bombay Marine was renamed the Bombay Marine Corps. On 1 May 1830, the Bombay Marine became the Indian Navy by Government Order, and in 1858 became known as H.M. Indian Navy controlled by the government of India and based at Bombay. In 1847 the Superintendent of the Indian Navy, was made Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Navy, and hoisted the broad pennant of a Commodore 1st Class of the Royal Navy on his flag ship in Bombay Harbour. His right to do this was disputed. H.M. Indian Navy co-operated with the Royal Navy in policing Asian waters and also carried out regular marine surveys.[4] On 14 June 1848. The Admiralty authorised a special broad pennant, Commodore 1st Class Indian Navy, for the use of the Commander-in-Chief Indian Navy. The Commander of the Persian Gulf Squadron, who assumed the rank of Commodore 2nd Class, had a similar broad pennant in blue. Both pennants went out of use in April 1863 Her Majesty's Indian Navy was disbanded and the naval protection of Indian Waters was taken over by the British Admiralty in London. From 1863 to 1877 the Service was again known as the Bombay Marine, and acted in a non-combatant role, trooping and laying submarine telegraph cables from Bombay to Suez, and Karachi to Basra.[2]

In 1877 the Service was reorganised by Admiral Bythesea, NC, and became H.M. Indian Marine, divided into Eastern and Western Divisions, with dockyards at Calcutta and Bombay.[2] Its duties included: the transportation of troops and stores; maintenance of Station ships and gunboats; building, repair and maintenance of all Indian Government vessels; and marine survey. The HMIM took part in the Abyssinian War of 1871, the Egyptian campaigns 1882 and 1885, the 3rd Burmese War 1885, and the Chin-hushai Expedition in Burma 1889.[2] These years as a trooping/ surveying organisation earned the Service Royal recognition and in 1892 Queen Victoria authorised the name to be changed to the Royal Indian Marine. The RIM participated in the Suakin Expedition 1896, an Expedition to Mkwelo in East Africa 1897, the Boer War, the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, and a Somaliland Expedition 1902-4. From 1909-14, the RIM was engaged in the suppression of gun-running in the Persian Gulf.[2] After extensive service in World War I, the RIM returned to trooping/ surveying duties and the Service reached its lowest ebb in 1925 as a result of the Inchcape Report. A committee, formed under the Chair of Lord Rawlinson, C-in-C, India (Rawlinson Committee), put foward proposals for reconstituting the Service on a combatant footing, and in 1928 the White Ensign was hoisted onboard all RIM ships. [2]

On 8 September 1934, the Indian Navy (Discipline) Bill received Governor-General's assent and HM King George V conferred the title of Royal Indian Navy on the Service.[2] In February 1939, the Chatfield Committee made recommendations for the RIN taking over increased responsibility for the naval defence of India.[2] Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, the RIN began to establish reserves - the Royal Indian Naval Reserve, recruited from serving officers in the Mercantile Marine; and the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve, recruited from the general public and given intensive training, mainly in Bombay.[2] In addition to the ordinary Continuous Service Ratings, the RIN recruited Special Service Ratings who served for 5 years and then transferred to the Fleet Reserve for 10 years. On 15 August 1947, the subdivision of India and Pakistan brought about division of the Navy into the Royal Pakistan and Royal Indian Navies.[2] When India abrogated her Dominion status to become a Republic within the Commonwealth on 26 January 1950, the Navy became the Indian Navy.[2]

In Command

Superintendent, Indian Navy (1830-1844)

  1. Captain Sir Charles Malcolm, C.B. R.N. 1 May, 1830 – 10 January 1837.[5]
  2. Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm, C.B. R.N. 10 January 1837 – July, 1838.[lower-alpha 1]
  3. Captain Robert Oliver R.N., July, 1838 – October, 1844.[5]

Officiating Superintendent, Indian Navy (1844-1844)

  1. Captain John Pepper, I.N. October, 1844 – April, 1845.[5]
  2. Acting Captain, H. Blosse Lynch, I.N. April, 1845 – December, 1845.[5]

Superintendent, Indian Navy (1845-1847)

  1. Commodore 1st Class Robert Oliver, R.N. December, 1845 – 1847.[5]

Superintendent & Commander-in-Chief, Indian Navy (1847-48)

  1. Commodore 1st Class Sir Robert Oliver, R.N. 1847 – April, 1848.[5]
  2. Commodore 1st Class Sir Robert Oliver, R.N. April, 1848 – 6 August, 1848.[5]

Officiating Superintendent & Commander-in-Chief, Indian Navy (1848)

  1. Commodore 1st Class, H. Blosse Lynch, I.N. 6 August, 1848 – 30 August, 1848.[5]

Superintendent & Commander-in-Chief, Indian Navy (1848-63)

  1. Commodore 1st Class John Croft Hawkins, I.N. 31 August, 1848 – 26 January, 1849.[5]
  2. Commodore 1st Class Stephen Lushington, R.N. 26 January, 1849 – March, 1852.[5]
  3. Commodore 1st Class Henry John Leeke, R.N. March, 1852 – 15 April 1854.[5]
  4. Rear-Admiral Henry John Leeke, R.N. 15 April 1854 – July, 1857.[5]
  5. Commodore 1st Class George Greville Wellesley, R.N. July, 1857 – July, 1862.[5]
  6. Commodore 1st Class John James Frushard, I.N. July, 1862 – April, 1863.[5]

Command Flags


  1. "Royal Indian Marine/Navy". discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk. National Archives UK. 1840–1947. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 "The Royal Indian Navy 1612 to 1947 Association - National Maritime Museum". collections.rmg.co.uk. Greenwich, London, England.: Royal Museums Greenwich. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  3. Sridharan. AVSM (Retd)., Rear-Admiral K. (1 January 1982). "The Bombay Marines versus the Sidis and Martha Navy (1686 to 1756)". A Maritime History of India. New Delhi, Republic of India.: Minister of Publications and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 105. ISBN 9781135146788.
  4. National Archives UK.
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 Sridharan. AVSM (Retd)., Rear-Admiral K. (1 January 1982). "Appendix I: Chief's of the Navy of India". A Maritime History of India. New Delhi, Republic of India.: Minister of Publications and Broadcasting, Government of India. pp. 415–418. ISBN 9781135146788.


  1. Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm continued as Superintendent, Indian Navy until July, 1838.


  1. This article includes copied content available from this source that is available for non commercial reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) licence http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/.
  2. Broad Pennant images courtesy of Martin Grieve at CRW Flags.