Singapore Dockyard

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HM Dockyard, Singapore
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Part of China Station (1923-1941)
Far East Station (1946-1962)
Far East Fleet (1962-1968)
Singapore in Malaya
TypeNaval Dockyard
Site information
OperatorNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Controlled byBoard of Admiralty Flag 20th Century.png Board of Admiralty
Site history
In use1923-1968
Installation information
OccupantsChina Squadron

Singapore Dockyard or formally His/Her Majesty's Dockyard, Singapore was a Royal Naval Dockyard developed by the Department of Admiralty beginning in 1923. It was initially a repair and resupply base of the China Station until 1941 then later Eastern Fleet. The yard was initially managed by the Board of Admiralty and operated by the Royal Navy until 1968.


Plan of Singapore Dockyard in January 1942. © War Office, London.

The island of Singapore at the foot of the Malay peninsula originally came under British control in 1819. With a fine harbour on the sea route between India and China, it became a major port and in 1923, with Japanese power growing in the Far East, the Conservative government in London under Stanley Baldwin decided to create a naval base and dockyard on the northern side of the island on the Strait of Johor.

The dockyard took an extraordinary length of time when the Labour Party came briefly to power in 1924 work was stopped. It soon started again when the Conservative Party regained office, but was suspended by the Labour administration in 1929 in the cause of international disarmament. Japanese aggression in the 1930s forced another turn of the roundabout and work was speeded up.

The base was at last formally opened in 1938 by Sir Shenton Thomas, high commissioner for the Malay States and in effect governor of Singapore. The base cost £60 million to build at the time, equivalent to more than £2.5 billion today, but its formidable defences were not adequately manned.

Admiralty IX Floating Dry Dock

A large floating dry dock, the third-largest in the world at the time of its construction, was located at the base. It was used by the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle for a refit in 1939. At the time, the dry dock was described as having been floated from England to Singapore 10 years before.

King George VI Graving Dock

The graving dock was completed in February 1938 and was more than 300 meters in length and was the largest dry dock in the world at the time. With the impending capture of Singapore by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1942, the dry dock gates were blown off and machinery destroyed. The dock was subsequently repaired and used throughout the war and was subjected to Allied air attacks to disable the dry dock in late 1944 and early 1945. In September 1945, the naval base and dockyard reverted back to British control and works to repair the dockyard commenced. The restoration of the dockyard was completed by the end of 1951 with no traces of war damage.

Withdrawal of British forces

After Singapore’s merger with Malaya in 1963 and subsequent independence in 1965, the British reduced and gradually withdrew their military presence in the region.12 Britain was still recovering from World War II, which had weighed down on the country’s finances. On 16 January 1968, the British government announced that all British forces in the Far East would be withdrawn and all military bases outside Europe and the Mediterranean would be closed by the end of 1971. On 1 December 1968, the British Admiralty handed over the naval base to the Singapore government for a token sum of $1, three years ahead of schedule.

Administration of the Dockyard (Board of Admiralty)

In Command

An aerial view of the HM Naval Dockyard Singapore in 1962 (Image: Horatio J. Kookaburra on Flickr). The former Stores Basin can be seen on the lower left of the photo and the King George VI dock can be seen close to the top right. Three floating docks are today tied up along a finger pier constructed off the 850 metre northwall. The northwall is seen running along the lower edge of the photo.

Commodore-in-Charge of Naval Establishments at Singapore (1934-1941)

  1. Commodore 2nd Class William P. Mark-Wardlaw September 1934 – 31 July 1936.(also Commodore, Malaya)
  2. Commodore 2nd Class Marshal Llewelyn Clarke, 31 July, 1936 –- 10 October, 1938, (ditto).[1]
  3. Commodore 1st Class Thomas Bernard Drew, 10 October, 1938 – 1 January, 1940, (ditto).[2]

Rear-Admiral-in-Charge of Naval Establishments at Singapore (1940-1941)

  1. Rear-Admiral Thomas Bernard Drew, 1 January, 1940 - 10 June, 1941 (also Rear-Admiral, Malaya).[3]
  2. Rear-Admiral Ernest John Spooner, 10 June, 1941 - December, 1941 (ditto until February 1942).

Commodore Superintendent of Dockyard, HM Dockyard, Singapore (1941-1942)

  1. Commodore 2nd Class FitzRoy Evelyn Patrick Hutton, 12 December, 1941 – February, 1942.[4]

Rear-Admiral-in-Charge of Naval Establishments at Singapore (1941-1942)

  1. Rear-Admiral Ernest John Spooner, 10 June, 1941 - 15 February, 1942.

Admiral Superintendent of HM Dockyard, Singapore (1945-1958)

  1. Rear-Admiral Sir John A. V. Morse, September, 1945 – April, 1946
  2. Rear-Admiral Henry J. Egerton, April, 1946 – December, 1947
  3. Vice-Admiral Clifford Caslon, December, 1947 – January, 1950.
  4. Rear Admiral Hugh Webb Faulkner, January, 1950 – December, 1951.[5]
  5. Rear-Admiral Anthony F. Pugsley, December, 1951 – November, 1953.
  6. Rear-Admiral Ernest H. Shattock, November 1953 – April 1956
  7. Rear-Admiral George A. Thring, May 1956 – 1958.

Commodore Superintendent, HM Dockyard Singapore (1959-1971)

  1. Commodore William Wentworth FitzRoy, 31 March 1959 - July, 1961.[6]
  2. Commodore Frederick Charles William Derick Lawson, 6 November, 1965 - February, 1969.[7]
  3. Commodore Michael Harold Griffin, February, 1969 – 1971.[8]

Additional Notes

On 3 December 1941 the Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet, after consultation with Commander-in-Chief, China Station recommended that the duties of the Rear Admiral, Malaya, should be divided between two officers, as Flag Officer in Charge and Superintendent of the Dockyard and that Commodore F.E.P. Hutton should be appointed as the latter (C in C E.F).[9]


  1. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  C". Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  2. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  D". Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  3. Houterman and Koppes
  4. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  H". Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  5. "Rear Admiral Hugh Webb Faulkner CB, CBE, DSO | Melbourne Grammar School". Australia: Melbourne Grammar School. 2020. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
  6. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  F". Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  7. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945 -- L". Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  8. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "World War II unit histories & officers: RN Officers. G." Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  9. Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy, China Station, December 1941 to March 1942, Admiral Layton's Diary". Gordon Smith. Retrieved 11 September 2020.