Jamaica Station

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Jamaica Station
Flag of the Blue Squadron 1801-1864.png
Blue Ensign of the final Commander-in-Chief
Active1655–1837
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
TypeNaval Station
Part ofAdmiralty and Marine Affairs Office
(1655-1690)
Department of Admiralty
(1690-1830)
North America, West Indies and Newfoundland Station
(1830-1837)
Garrison/HQJamaica Dockyard, Port Royal

The Jamaica Station was a major Naval Command Area of the Royal Navy headquartered at Port Royal in Jamaica from 1655 to 1830. In 1830 it was unfied with the North America Station and Newfoundland Station to create the North America, West Indies and Newfoundland Station the admiralty however kept the station operating but downgraded it to a subcommand of the new station, who's headquarters had now moved to Bermuda Dockyard. In 1837 the Jamaica Station ceased in name but was reformed under a new name the Jamaica Division in 1838, but was now part of the North America and West Indies Station.

History

The station was formed, following the capture of Jamaica, by assembling about a dozen frigates in 1655. The first "Admiral and General-at-Sea" was Sir William Penn. Its main objectives in the early years were to defend Jamaica and to harass Spanish ports and shipping. Responsibility for Royal Navy operations in the Caribbean lay with the Jamaica Station.

In the late 1720s three successive commanders of the station lost their lives to tropical diseases while undertaking a Blockade of Porto Bello during the Anglo-Spanish War. The general ill-health associated with the station continued throughout the century. An assessment of Navy strength at the Jamaica station in 1742 found around 3,000 men were fit to serve out of a total Navy complement of 6,620. A Navy hospital was constructed in 1745 but its location was poor and many patients brought in for shipboard diseases developed additional tropical illnesses while in the hospital itself. A report to the Admiralty in 1749 found that the Hospital was "rather a hurt to the [Navy] Service than a Relief."

At the height of the American Revolution in 1781, there were on average over 25,600 men stationed in the Caribbean on the Jamaica and Leeward Islands Stations. This accounted for no less than 26 per cent of men in the whole of the Royal Navy.[1] The average number of ships in 1781 in both the Jamaica Squadron and the Leeward Islands Squadron was 83 ships, at the time accounted for more than 21 per cent of all naval vessels.[2]

On 15 May, 1830 this command merged with the North America Station and Newfoundland Station to form the North America, West Indies and Newfoundland Station under a single commander-in-chief now headquartered at Bermuda Dockyard. The station ceased as an independent command in 1830, but the Royal Navy continued to base a flag officer in Jamaica as a sub command of the new station. In 1837 it established a smaller naval force the Jamaica Division and maintained the Jamaica Dockyard until it closed it in 1905. An earthquake in 1907 and hurricane in 1951 damaged the abandoned dockyard. Part of the station now houses the headquarters of the Jamaica Defence Coast Guard (HMJS Cagway, Port Royal); the rest is being restored as part of the Port Royal Heritage Tourism Project.

In Command

Commander-in-Chief, Jamaica Station (1655-1830)

Commodore, Jamaica Station (1830-1837)

Components

Naval Formations

Unit From To Ref
Jamaica Squadron 1655 1823 [3]

Naval Facilities

Unit From To Ref
Jamaica Dockyard 1675 1829
Port Antonio Dockyard 1729 1749
Royal Naval Hospital, Jamaica 1743 1905
Naval Stores Depot Port Royal 1743 1905
Naval Stores Depot New Greenwich 1743 1905
Naval Ordnance Stores Mosquito Point 1743 1905

Footnotes

  1. Williams. Sian. (September 2011.) The Royal Navy in the Caribbean, 1756-1815: Submitted Thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southampton. Southampton. England. p. 38.
  2. Williams. Sian. (September 2011.) The Royal Navy in the Caribbean, 1756-1815: Submitted Thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southampton. Southampton. England. p. 38.
  3. Bradley, Peter T. (1999). "8:The Royal Navy in the Caribbean 1655 to 1762". British Maritime Enterprise in the New World: From the Late Fifteenth to the Mid-eighteenth Century. Peter Bradley. ISBN 9780773478664.

Bibliography

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica_Station