North Atlantic Station

From Naval History Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search
North Atlantic Station
Naval HQ North Atlantic ‎
HMS Cormorant
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
ActiveNovember, 1939
DisbandedSeptember, 1943
CountryFlag of Gibraltar from 1939-1982.png Gibraltar
AllegianceAnimated-Flag-United-Kingdom.gif United Kingdom
BranchEnsign of the Royal Navy animated.gif United Kingdom Royal Navy
Garrison/HQH.M. Naval Base, Gibraltar
FirstVice-Admiral Sir Dudley Burton Napier North
LastVice-Admiral George Frederick Basset Edward-Collins

The North Atlantic Station also known as North Atlantic Command[1] was a major naval command area of the Royal Navy established on 1 November, 1939 headquartered at Gibraltar.[2] Vice-Admiral Sir Dudley North was appointed to command as Flag Officer Commanding, North Atlantic Station.[3]


British & American Naval Commands - North Atlantic 1942 - North Atlantic Station, Courtesy © Crown Copyright

At the outbreak of the Second World War the local Gibraltar area command was elevated to encompass a larger North Atlantic naval command with responsibility for the sea lanes on either side of the Straits of Gibraltar. Those duties remained in place although the flag officers' mission was often unclear due to the operations of both Force H and the Western Approaches Command. It was these ambiguous boundaries of command responsibility between Gibraltar and Force H that led to confusion in the conduct of operations.[4] In his book The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean, David Brown discusses this problem and the Admiralty's response:

The division of responsibility between the Flag Officer Commanding North Atlantic (FOCNA) and the Flag Officer Force H and the Commander in Chief Mediterranean was defined as follows:[5]

F.O.C.N.A. was responsible for preventing the passage of Gibraltar Strait by all enemy vessels and by vessels of other nations as may be ordered by the Admiralty from time to time.[6]

While Force H was based on Gibraltar, F.O.C.N.A. was to call on, Flag Officer, Force H for such assistance as be necessary. Except when directed to carry out specific tasks by the Admiralty.[7]

Naval HQ North Atlantic

Flag Officer Commanding, North Atlantic Station

Components under this Command

Naval Forces

# Units Active
1. 13th Destroyer Flotilla 11.1939-09.1943.
2. 8th Submarine Flotilla 12.1940-12.1942.

Naval Bases & Ports

# Name Period
1. Gibraltar Naval Base 11.1939-09.1943.

Naval Shore Establishments

# Name Period
1. Gibraltar Dockyard 11.1939-09.1943.


  1. Axelrod, Alan; Kingston, Jack A. (2007). Encyclopedia of World War II. New York, NY, United States.: H W Fowler. p. 402. ISBN 978-0-8160-6022-1.
  2. Rose, Susan (2008). "XI: The Relief of Admiral North in Gibraltar in 1940". The Naval Miscellany. Farnham, United Kingdom.: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 463. ISBN 978-0-7546-6431-4.
  3. Rose. p.463.
  4. Watson, Graham. "GIBRALTAR/NORTH ATLANTIC COMMAND 1939-1945". Naval History.Net, 19 September 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  5. Brown, David (2002). The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean: Vol.II: November 1940-December 1941. London: Routledge. p. 41. ISBN 9781136341205.
  6. Brown, David (2002). The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean: Vol.II: November 1940-December 1941. London: Routledge. p. 41. ISBN 9781136341205.
  7. Brown, with an introduction by David (2002). The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean. London: Whitehall History Pub. in association with Frank Cass. p. 42. ISBN 9781136341205.