Portsmouth Station

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Portsmouth Station
HMS Victory
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom from 1801.png Royal Navy
SizeNaval Command Area
Part ofRoyal Navy
Garrison/HQPortsmouth, England
FirstRear-Admiral of the Blue
Sir Robert Holmes.
Sir John Frewen.

The Portsmouth Station also known as the Portsmouth Command was a major naval command area operating under a Port Admiral called the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth from 1667 until 1969, when it was unified with the Plymouth Station to create the Naval Home Command. Prior to World War One the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was sometimes referred to in official dispatches as the Commander-in-Chief, Spithead.

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


The station extended along the south coast from Newhaven in East Sussex to Portland in Dorset. In 1746 the Spithead Station was unified into this command. In the late 18th century port admirals began to reside ashore, rather than on board their flagships; the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was provided with a large house at 111 High Street, which was renamed Admiralty House (and which had formerly been home to the Mayor of Portsmouth). In the 1830s Admiralty House was sold to the War Office (as Government House, it went on to house the Lieutenant-Governor of Portsmouth for the next fifty years). The Commander-in-Chief moved in turn into the former Dockyard Commissioner's house, which still stands within HMNB Portsmouth. In 1889 the Commander-in-Chief was given HMS Victory as his Flagship.

During the Second World War the stations Headquarters was at Fort Southwick. Operation Aerial, the evacuation from western French ports in 1940, was commanded by Admiral William Milbourne James, the Commander-in-Chief. James lacked the vessels necessary for convoys and organised a flow of troopships, storeships and motor vehicle vessels from Southampton, coasters to ply from Poole and the Dutch schuyts to work from Weymouth, while such warships as were available patrolled the shipping routes. Demolition parties sailed in the ships but it was hoped that supplies and equipment could be embarked as well as troops.

In 1952 the Commander-in-Chief took up the NATO post of Commander-in-Chief, Channel (CINCHAN). This move added Allied Command Channel to the NATO Military Command Structure. The admiral commanding at Portsmouth had control naval operations in the area since 1949 under WUDO auspices.

In 1969 the offices and responsibilities of Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth and that of Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth in 1969 were unified to form Naval Home Command under the new Commander-in-Chief, Naval Home Command. The posts of Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command were amalgamated in 1994 following the rationalisation of the British Armed Forces following the end of the Cold War. In 2012, however, all distinct Commander-in-Chief appointments were discontinued, with full operational command being vested instead in the First Sea Lord; he now flies his flag from HMS Victory.

In Command

Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth

Flag Captain, Portsmouth Station

Components under this Command

The station consisted of Naval Formations permanently allocated to it as well as those temporarily assigned to it. It also included naval facilties such as dockyards and other shore establishments. Considered as the most prestigious of the home commands, Portsmouth Station was responsible for the central part of the English Channel between Newhaven and Isle of Portland.[1][2][3] Below is a list of units that served under this command.

Naval Bases


Station Commanded by Date Notes
Newhaven Naval Officer-in-Charge Newhaven held by a Flag Officer usually retired
Poole Naval Officer-in-Charge Poole held by a Flag Officer usually retired
Portsmouth Command Headquarters Chief of Staff to CinC, Portsmouth 1832–1969 Flag Officer, in Charge of Headquarters Staff
Portland various title, Portland 1914–1958
Southampton Flag Officer-in-Charge Southampton
Weymouth Naval Officer-in-Charge Weymouth held by a Flag Officer usually retired

Naval Formations


Naval Formations Commanded by Date Notes
1st Anti-Submarine Flotilla 1939–1945
3rd Battle Squadron Rear-Admiral, Commanding 3rd Battle Squadron 1939–1942 Component of Channel Force, 1939
1st Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 1st Destroyer Flotilla 01/1918-01/1919
1st Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 1st Destroyer Flotilla 07/1940-05/1945
4th Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 4th Destroyer Flotilla 12/1916-03/1917
12th Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 12th Destroyer Flotilla 1939-08/1940
16th Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 16th Destroyer Flotilla 1939-08/1940
18th Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 18th Destroyer Flotilla 09-10/1939
4th Minesweeper Flotilla Officer Commanding, 4th Minesweeper Flotilla 04/1944-12/1944
9th Minesweeper Flotilla Officer Commanding, 9th Minesweeper Flotilla 11/1940-05/1945
14th Minesweeper Flotilla Officer Commanding, 13th Minesweeper Flotilla 09/1941-12/1944
2nd Submarine Flotilla Officer Commanding, 2nd Submarine Flotilla 08/1914-08/1916
3rd Submarine Flotilla Officer Commanding, 3rd Submarine Flotilla 1919–1922 based at Gosport
5th Submarine Flotilla Officer Commanding, 5th Submarine Flotilla 1919–1939 based at Gosport – training & reserve flotilla
6th Submarine Flotilla Officer Commanding, 6th Submarine Flotilla 1919–1939 based at Portland – ASW training & reserve flotilla
Channel Force Rear-Admiral Commanding, Channel Force September–October, 1939 based at Portland
Fishery Protection Flotilla Officer Commanding, Fishery Protection Flotilla 1919–1927
Fishery Protection and Minesweeping Flotilla Captain of Fishery Protection and Minesweeping Flotilla 1923–1945
Fishery Protection Squadron Captain, Fishery Protection Squadron 1945–1969
Newhaven Local Defence Flotilla Officer Commanding, Newhaven Local Defence Flotilla 1914–1918
Portland Local Defence Flotilla Officer Commanding, Portland Local Defence Flotilla 1914–1918
Portland Local Defence Flotilla Officer Commanding, Portland Local Defence Flotilla 1914–1918
Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla Officer Commanding, Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla 1914–1927
Reserve Fleet Flag Officer Commanding, Reserve Fleet 1700–1960
Royal Squadron Vice-Admiral Commanding HM Yachts
Royal Navy Coastal Forces Rear-Admiral, Coastal Forces 1914–1918, 1939–1968
Royal Navy Submarine Service Chief of the Submarine Service 1919–1929
Royal Navy Submarine Service Rear-Admiral Submarines 1929–1944
Royal Navy Submarine Service Flag Officer Submarines 1944–1969

Naval Shore Establishments


Naval Shore Establishments Commanded by Date Notes
Royal Navy Submarine School 1904–1969 HMS Dolphin shore establishment.
Royal Navy Maritime Warfare School 1939–1969 HMS Dryad shore establishment.
Coastal forces base, Weymouth 1939–1946 HMS Grasshopper shore establishment.
Coastal Forces Headquarters 1941–1956 HMS Hornet shore establishment.
Royal Naval Torpedo School, Eastbourne 1939–1945 HMS Marlborough shore establishment.
Royal Navy Signals School and Combined Signals School Captain of Royal Navy Signals School 1941–1969 HMS Mecury shore establishment.
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Training Establishment, Hove 1939–1946 RNVR Sussex Division, HMS King Alfred shore establishment.
Portsmouth Dockyard Resident Commissioner Portsmouth 1649–1832 Dockyard controlled by the Navy Board until 1832.
Portsmouth Dockyard Admiral-Superintendent, Portsmouth Dockyard 1832–1971
Portland Naval Base Senior Naval Officer, Portland 1908–1914 held by a Captain up-to the rank of RAdm.
Portsmouth Signal School Captain of Portsmouth Signal School 1916–1941
Royal Naval Barracks, Portsmouth Commodore-in-Charge, Royal Naval Barracks Portsmouth 1898–1969 renamed Commander, Naval Base Portsmouth
Signal School Superintendent of Signal Schools 1901–1920
Royal Naval Boys Training School, Gosport 1927–1969 HMS St Vincent, shore establishment.
Mechanical Engineering School, Portsmouth 1914–1969 HMS Sultan shore establishment.
Combined Operations Training Establishment, Poole 1946–? HMS Turtle training establishment.
Royal Naval Torpedo and Mining School 1876–1969 [HMS Vernon shore establishment.


  1. Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy Organisation and Ship Deployment, Inter-War Years 1919–1939". www.naval-history.net. Gordon Smith, 2 September 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  2. Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy Organisation in World War 2, 1939–1945". www.naval-history.net. Gordon Smith, 19 September 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  3. Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy Organisation and Ship Deployment, Inter-War Years 1914–1918". www.naval-history.net. Gordon Smith, 27 October 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  4. Houterman, J.N.; Koppes, Jerome. "Royal Navy, Portsmouth Command 1939–1945". www.unithistories.com. Houterman and Koppes, 2004–2006. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  5. Watson. 2015
  6. Watson. 2015
  7. Houterman and Koppes. 2004–2005
  8. Watson. 2015
  9. Watson. 2015
  10. Houterman and Koppes. 2004–2005