Plymouth Station

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Plymouth Station
HMS Impregnable (1911-21),HMS Vivid (1922-34),HMS Drake (1934-1969)
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Active1743-1845, 1896-1969
CountryUnited Kingdom
AllegianceBritish Empire
BranchRoyal Navy
TypeNaval Station
Part ofDepartment of Admiralty
Garrison/HQPlymouth Dockyard, Devonport, England
FirstVice-Admiral of the Blue
Philip Durell
Sir Charles Mills

The Plymouth Station also known as the Plymouth Command,[1] was a major naval command of the British Royal Navy, operating under a Port Admiral called the Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth. It was first active from 1743 until 1844. In 1845 it was renamed the Devonport Station. In 1896 it reverted back to its former name. In 1969 it was merged with the Portsmouth Station to create a new a Naval Home Command.

The command was one of the geographical divisions into which the Royal Navy divided its worldwide responsibilities.


The area of Devonport, south of the dockyard known as Mount Wise is rich in history and military remains. Very briefly, the founding of the Plymouth Dockyard in the 1690’s dictated the areas history from then on. Until the 18th century, Military control of the Plymouth Garrison was vested in the Military Governor, who resided, with his deputy, in the ‘Citadel’ to the east of Plymouth Hoe. Naval control was exercised by the senior Admiral present in the Hamoaze anchorage from his Flagship that became known as the Plymouth Station in 1743.[2] The Plymouth Station extended along the South Coast from Exmouth in East Devon to Penzance in Cornwall.[3]

The dockyard was initially under the supervision of the Resident Commissioner Plymouth a member of the Navy Board he was replaced later by an Admiral Superintendent Plymouth from 1832 who resided in the Plymouth Dockyard. This changed, with the building at Mount Wise of a new Government House for the Military Governor and at the beginning of the 19th century Admiralty House, for the Port Admiral who had moved ashore from his Flagship. The post of Military Governor was abolished in 1842. Government House was then occupied by the army GOC, Western District. From 1845 to 1896 the Plymouth Station was re designated the Devonport Station and Plymouth Dockyard was re designated Devonport Dockyard in 1823.

By 1915 Government House now became Admiralty House, residence of the naval Commander in Chief, Plymouth and the old Admiralty House became Hamoaze House, later HQ of the Major General, Royal Marines until 1993. During World War One and World War Two the station was re designated the Plymouth Command. In 1941, during World War II, elements of Plymouth Command were transferred to Western Approaches Command which was established at Derby House in Liverpool.[4] Meanwhile, Plymouth Command occupied a new combined Headquarters, known as the Maritime Headquarters, at Mount Wise.[5] On 4th April 1949 NATO was formed, one result of which, was the UK, C in C, Plymouth. becoming double hatted as NATO, C in C, Eastern Atlantic. Which roughly corresponded to the old western approaches area.

On 14 October 1968 it was announced in the House Commons debate on the Ministry of Defence that this station was to be reduced in future and replaced by a new area command.[6] In July 1969 the MHQ remained the HQ of the C in C Plymouth until that post, together with that of C in C Portsmouth, were subsumed into the post of C in C Naval Home Command based in Portsmouth.[7] The two former C in C posts were re-graded as Area Flag Officers.[8] The C in C Home Fleet had moved ashore to HMS Warrior at the old RAF Coastal Command HQ at Northwood on the outskirts of West London. The C in C Home Fleet was re-titled C in C Western Fleet before becoming, in 1971, C in C Fleet.

Upon the abolition of the post of C in C Plymouth in July 1969 the MHQ became the HQ of Flag Officer Plymouth Area Command until, in turn this post went and the whole of the dockyard and barracks become Devonport Naval Base, under the command of a Commodore, who is answerable to the Chief of Fleet Support at Bath. The naval base is also known as HMS Drake, previously the name of the barracks only.[5]

Naval HQ

Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth Station (1743-1845, 1896-1969)

Flag Captain, Plymouth Station (1860-1918)

Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth Station (1918-69)

Components under this command

The Plymouth Station encompassed at various times.[9]

Bases and Ports

  1. Appledore
  2. Avonmouth
  3. Belfast
  4. Cardiff
  5. Falmouth
  6. Isle of Man
  7. Greenock
  8. Liverpool
  9. Londonderry
  10. Milford Haven
  11. Swansea

Naval Shore Establishments

  1. Devonport Dockyard
  2. Pembroke Dockyard
  3. Plymouth Dockyard
  4. HMS Raleigh (shore establishment)
  5. Milford Haven Dockyard (1797-1814) [10]
  6. Royal Citadel, Plymouth
  7. Royal Naval Barracks, Devonport
  8. Royal Naval Barracks, Plymouth
  9. Royal Naval College, Dartmouth
  10. Royal Naval Hospital, Plymouth
  11. Victualling Yard, Plymouth

and other formations and ships not attached to other fleets.


  1. Pulvertaft, David (2011). "Ship Names and the Figurehead Carvers Task 2 Figurehead Carvers". Figureheads of the Royal Navy. Barnsley: Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-4738-1417-2.
  2. "Other Data". Naval Biographical Database. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  3. "Nore, Dover, Portsmouth and Plymouth Commands, January 1942". Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  4. "Plymouth Maritime Headquarters - Mount Wise (1)". Subterranea Britannica. 13 December 2004. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Plymouth Maritime Headquarters - Mount Wise (2)". Subterranea Britannica. 13 December 2004. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  6. "Area Flag Officer, Plymouth - Hansard". Hansard. 14 October 1968. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  7. "Port Admirals (Commanders-in-Chief) Portsmouth (1714–1931)". History in Portsmouth. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  8. Hansard.
  9. Watson, Dr Graham (8 April 2012). "Nore, Dover, Portsmouth and Plymouth Commands, January 1942". Gordon Smith.
  10. "MILFORD HAVEN DOCKYARD, Coflein". National Monuments Record of Wales. Retrieved 2 June 2019.