Red Sea Force

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Red Sea Force
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom from 1801.png Royal Navy
TypeNaval Formation
Part ofRoyal Navy
Garrison/HQAden Naval Base, Colony of Aden
FirstRear-Admiral Arthur John Layard Murra
LastRear-Admiral Ronald Hamilton Curzon Hallifax

The Red Sea Force was a naval formation of the Royal Navy created in May, 1939. It operated in the Red Sea out of Aden Naval Base and was operational until October, 1941.


The Royal Navy established a Red Sea formation as early as 1846, administered by the Royal Indian Navy. During World War One a Red Sea Patrol operated in same waters. Early in World War II, the Red Sea was a combat zone as the Allied and Axis navies vied for control.[1] On 24 May 1939 the Red Sea Force was established and placed under the command of Rear-Admiral Arthur John Layard Murray until 1 April 1941. He was succeeded by Rear-Admiral Ronald Hamilton Curzon Hallifax who remained its commanding officer until 21 October 1941 when his title was altered to Flag Officer Commanding, Red Sea.

The Red Sea Force had multiple missions: to prevent Italian reinforcements, to engage the Massawa squadron, to blockade the coast of Italian Somaliland, to protect the vital shipping lane up to Suez, and to defend Aden from surface attack. Great Britain started convoying merchant ships through the Red Sea at the end of June 1940. With the Mediterranean effectively closed to the Allies, the Red Sea passage was critical for supplying and holding Egypt.[2]

In Command

Senior Officer, Red Sea Force

Additional Notes

The title Senior Officer, Red Sea Force changed to Flag Officer Commanding, Red Sea, and transferred to Mediterranean Command on 21st October 1941.


  1. Red Sea Naval War - Warfare History Network 5 July 2016.
  2. Red Sea Naval War - Warfare History Network 5 July 2016.