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HM Naval Base, Penang
HMS Tamar (1939-41)
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryFlag of the British Straits Settlements 1925 to 1942.png British Straits Settlements
AllegianceFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
TypeNaval Base
Part ofChina Station
Garrison/HQRN Base, Penang

Penang was a base of operations and command of the Royal Navy located in Malaya.


The Port of Penang was established with the founding of George Town by Francis Light in 1786. Light, who had been tasked by the British East India Company to form trade relations in the Malay Peninsula, deduced that by obtaining Penang Island, the British could check Dutch and French territorial ambitions in Southeast Asia. Due to its location in the Malacca Strait along the maritime trade route between India and China, the island could be put to use as a "convenient magazine for trade".

In 1798 the British established a naval dockyard at George Town called the Prince of Wales Island Yard that was operational until 1815. It was primarly used as a refitting and supply base. The Port of Penang, originally sited in George Town, was founded as a free port. In the early 19th century, the Port of Penang became a major conduit for spice exports in Southeast Asia.

During World War I, in the Battle of Penang, the German cruiser SMS Emden surreptitiously sailed to Penang Island and sank two Allied warships off its coast, Russian protected cruiser Zhemchug and the French destroyer Mousquet . 147 French and Russian sailors perished during the battle. In September 1939 the British reestablished a naval base at Penang

During the Japanese occupation of Penang in World War II, the Port of Penang was put to use as a major Axis naval base. Between 1942 and 1944 Penang served as the port of call and a replenishment hub for the submarines of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Kriegsmarine (of Nazi Germany) and the Regia Marina (of the Kingdom of Italy). At the end of the war, British Royal Marine commandos landed at the Port of Penang on 3 September 1945 under Operation Jurist, liberating Penang Island by the end of the day.

Penang was placed under a military administration until 1946. Subsequently, the Straits Settlements was abolished, as the British sought to consolidate the various political entities in British Malaya under a single polity named the Malayan Union.

Naval HQ

Senior British Naval Officer, Penang (1939-41)

  1. Captain J. G. Fraser OBE, 11 September, 1939 - December, 1941.[1][2]


  1. Admiralty, British (December 1940). "Flag Officers in Commission". The Navy List. London: H.M.S.O. p. 973.
  2. Admiralty, British (December 1941). "Flag Officers in Commission". The Navy List. London: H.M.S.O. p. 1197.