|HM Naval Base, St John's|
|Garrison/HQ||RN Base, St John's|
St. John's is the oldest post-Columbian European settlement in North America, with fishermen setting up seasonal camps in the early 1500s. The Venetian explorer John Cabot, in the service of England, became the first Europeans to sail into the harbour, on the morning of 24 June 1494.
On 5 August 1583, an English Sea Dog, Sir Humphrey Gilbert, claimed the area as England's first overseas colony under Royal Charter of Queen Elizabeth I. There was no permanent population, however, and Gilbert was lost at sea during his return voyage, thereby ending any immediate plans for settlement. By 1620, the fishermen of England's West Country controlled most of Newfoundland's east coast.In 1627, William Payne, called St. John's "the principal prime and chief lot in all the whole country". Sometime after 1630, the town of St. John's was established as a permanent town.
The population grew slowly in the 17th century: St. John's was Newfoundland's largest settlement when English naval officers began to take censuses around 1675. The population grew in the summers with the arrival of migratory fishermen. In 1680, fishing ships (mostly from South Devon) set up fishing rooms at St. John's, bringing hundreds of Irish men into the port to operate inshore fishing boats.
The French attacked St. John's again in 1705 (Siege of St. John's), and captured it in 1708 (Battle of St. John's), devastating civilian structures with fire on each instance. The harbour remained fortified through most of the 18th and 19th centuries. The final battle of the Seven Years' War in North America (known as the French and Indian War in the US) was fought in 1762, in St. John's.
During the Second World War, the harbour supported Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy ships that were engaged in anti-submarine warfare. It was the site of an American Army Air Force base, Fort Pepperrell, that was established as part of the "Lend-Lease" Destroyers for Bases Agreement between the United Kingdom and United States.
- Acting Commander Anthony Francis Joseph MacDermott, April, 1919 - July, 1919.
- Admiralty, British (July 1919). "Other Senior Naval Officers or Officers in Charge at Ports Abroad". The Navy List. London, England.: H.M.S.O. p. 700.