From Naval History Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryUnited Kingdom
AllegianceBritish Empire
BranchRoyal Navy
RoleBase and Coastal Defences
Part ofCoast of Scotland Station (1909-1913)
Orkney and Shetlands Command (1914-1919), (1939-1945)
Garrison/HQLyness Naval Base, Scapa Flow
Orkney Islands, Scotland
FirstRear-Admiral Francis S. Miller
LastRear-Admiral Patrick Macnamara

Scapa Flow was a base and naval command of the British Royal Navy, as part of the larger Orkney and Shetlands Command.[1] Scapa Flow was used as the main base of operations of the Grand Fleet during World War One and Home Fleet during World War Two. It was active from 1909 until 1957.


In 1812 the Maritime Surveyor to the Admiralty, Graeme Spence, recommended Scapa Flow as a Royal Naval anchorage.[2] In 1909 the Royal Navy started to use Scapa Flow on a more regular basis.[3] Scapa Flow was the chief anchorage of British Grand Fleet for most of the First World War.[4] The massive body of water was enclosed by the Orkney Islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. Scapa Flow's position to the north-east of Scotland made it the perfect place to maintain the blockade of Germany and interdict and German vessels attempting to break out into the Atlantic.[5] It served as the main anchorage for the British Grand Fleet for most of the Great War.[6] The Grand Fleet was serviced by the Royal Naval Deport, Lyness.

In 1938 with advent of a war looming between Britain and Germany the Department of Admiralty authorised the construction of of a naval base at Lyness. In 1939 the base was opened to serve the Home Fleet as its military headquarters. On the 29 March 1957 Scapa Flow ceased to be a naval anchorage as part of a series of cuts to the Royal Navy’s budget.[7] The White Ensign was hauled down for the last time at Lyness Naval Base, but there were no high-ranking officers to witness the final chapter of this once great harbour and the only ship present was a humble boom defence ship, HMS Barleycorn. [8]

Naval HQ

Map of Scapa Flow in World War 2

Rear-Admiral Commanding, Scapa (1914-1919)

King's Harbour Master, Scapa (1914-1915)


  1. Captain John G. de O. Coke, August, 1914 – 29 September, 1914, (Rtd).
  2. Captain Arthur G. M. Meredyth, 28 October, 1914 – 27 July, 1915 (Rtd).

Rear-Admiral, Scapa (1940-1945)


  1. Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony (31 August 2017). "Scapa Flow - The Dreadnought Project". Harley and Lovell. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  2. "History of Scapa Flow : Scapa Flow Wrecks". Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands, Scotland: Scapa Flow Wrecks Project. Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  3. Scapa Flow Project.
  4. Harley and Lovell (31 August 2017).Scapa Flow - The Dreadnought Project.
  5. Harley and Lovell (31 August 2017).Scapa Flow - The Dreadnought Project.
  6. Harley and Lovell (31 August 2017).Scapa Flow - The Dreadnought Project.
  7. Scapa Flow Project.
  8. Scapa Flow Project.
  9. Harley and Lovell (31 August 2017).Scapa Flow - The Dreadnought Project.