Bombay Marine

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Bombay Marine
Naval Ensign of the Bombay Marine 1801 to 1830.png
Ensign of the Bombay Marine 1801-30, 1863-77
Active1686-1830, 1863-1877
CountryFlag of British India (1885-1947).png British India
AllegianceFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the Bombay Marine 1801 to 1830.png East India Company
Garrison/HQBombay Dockyard, India
In CommandSuperintendent, Bombay Marine

The Bombay Marine also known as the Bombay Marine Corps was a successor naval force to East India Company's Indian Marine and a precursor to the Royal Indian Navy established in 1686 until 1830 it was renamed as the Indian Navy.[1] In April 1863 the then H.M. Indian Navy was renamed back to the Bombay Marine until 1877 when it was renamed as H.M. Indian Marine.


East Indiaman ship President SV in 1685 by artist Issac Sailmaker the ship was launched in 1672 during the reign of King William III the ship is shown from two views port and broadside flying the ensign and jack of the East India company and flag of England.
An East Indiaman ship of the Bombay Marine fires her salute on entry to Bombay Harbour in 1731.

The modern Indian Navy's foundation dates from a squadron of ships that was sent out by the East Indies Company to the Swally, Surat on 5 September 1612, under the command of Captain Thomas Bast, to protect British trading interests from the Portuguese.[2] Until 1686, this force was known as the Honourable East Indies Company's Marine, with headquarters initially in Surat, and then Bombay, to where the Company formally transferring its interests in 1685. In August 1686 the East India Company's Indian Marine transferred its base from from Surat due to continual attacks by the Martha Navy to Bombay, as it was a more protected harbour and the Indian Marine changed its name to the Bombay Marine.[3] The Bombay Marine was the company's private navy, intended mainly for coastal protection. The service operated from the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean and was also responsible for much survey work.

In 1829 the Bombay Marine was renamed the Bombay Marine Corps. On 1 May 1830, the Bombay Marine became the Indian Navy by Government Order, and in 1858 became known as H.M. Indian Navy controlled by the government of India and based at Bombay. H.M. Indian Navy co-operated with the Royal Navy in policing Asian waters and also carried out regular marine surveys.[4] In April 1863 Her Majesty's Indian Navy was disbanded and the naval protection of Indian Waters was taken over by the British Admiralty in London. From 1863 to 1877 the Service was again known as the Bombay Marine, and acted in a non-combatant role, trooping and laying submarine telegraph cables from Bombay to Suez, and Karachi to Basra.[2]

In 1877 the Service was reorganised by Admiral Bythesea, NC, and became H.M.'s Indian Marine, divided into Eastern and Western Divisions, with dockyards at Calcutta and Bombay.[2] Its duties included: the transportation of troops and stores; maintenance of Station ships and gunboats; building, repair and maintenance of all Indian Government vessels; and marine survey. The HMIM took part in the Abyssinian War of 1871, the Egyptian campaigns 1882 and 1885, the 3rd Burmese War 1885, and the Chin-hushai Expedition in Burma 1889.[2] These years as a trooping/ surveying organisation earned the Service Royal recognition and in 1892 Queen Victoria authorised the name to be changed to the Royal Indian Marine. The RIM participated in the Suakin Expedition 1896, an Expedition to Mkwelo in East Africa 1897, the Boer War, the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, and a Somaliland Expedition 1902-4. From 1909-14, the RIM was engaged in the suppression of gun-running in the Persian Gulf.[2] After extensive service in World War I, the RIM returned to trooping/ surveying duties and the Service reached its lowest ebb in 1925 as a result of the Inchcape Report. A committee, formed under the Chair of Lord Rawlinson, C-in-C, India (Rawlinson Committee), put foward proposals for reconstituting the Service on a combatant footing, and in 1928 the White Ensign was hoisted onboard all RIM ships. [2]

On 8 September 1934, the Indian Navy (Discipline) Bill received Governor-General's assent and HM King George V conferred the title of Royal Indian Navy on the Service.[2] In February 1939, the Chatfield Committee made recommendations for the RIN taking over increased responsibility for the naval defence of India.[2] Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, the RIN began to establish reserves - the Royal Indian Naval Reserve, recruited from serving officers in the Mercantile Marine; and the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve, recruited from the general public and given intensive training, mainly in Bombay.[2] In addition to the ordinary Continuous Service Ratings, the RIN recruited Special Service Ratings who served for 5 years and then transferred to the Fleet Reserve for 10 years. On 15 August 1947, the subdivision of India and Pakistan brought about division of the Navy into the Royal Pakistan and Royal Indian Navies.[2] When India abrogated her Dominion status to become a Republic within the Commonwealth on 26 January 1950, the Navy became the Indian Navy.[2]

In Command

Admiral of the Marine (1699-1717)

  1. Commodore Alexander Hamilton, 1699 - 1717, (and as Commander-in-Chief of all the Company's Naval Forces in India).[5]

Commodore of the Marine (1738-1739)

  1. Commodore Bagwell, 1738-1739.[6]

Superintendent, Bombay Marine (1739-1830, 1863-74)

In complete list of post holders included:

  1. Mr. Charles Rigby, 1739 (also Deputy Governor of Bombay).[7]
  2. Commodore Sir William James, 1st Baronet, 1751 – 1754.[6]
  3. Captain Samuel Hough, EIC, 1754 – 1772.[6]
  4. Commodore, John Watson 1772 – 1774.[6]
  5. Captain Simon Matham, 1776 – 1778.[6]
  6. Commodore George Emptage, 1781 – 1785.
  7. Captain, Philip Dundas, 1798 – 1811.[8]
  8. Captain, Sir William Taylor Money, 1811 – 1813.[9][6]
  9. Captain Henry Meriton, 1813 – 1825.[6][10]
  10. Captain Thomas Buchanan, EIC, 1825 – June, 1828.[6][11]
  11. Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm, RN, June, 1828 – April, 1830.[6][12][6][13],[lower-alpha 1].
  12. Captain John Wellington Young, C.B. R.N. April, 1863 – April, 1868.[6]
  13. Captain G. F. Robinson, R.N. April, 1868 – September, 1874.[6]

Naval Adviser to Government of India (1874-1877)

  1. Captain John Bythesea September, 1874 – 5 August 1877.[6],[lower-alpha 2]

Composition of the Bombay Marine by Date


Ship Type Rate No Ref
Ship of the Line Fourth-Rate 1 [14]
Sailing Frigate Fifth-Rate 4 [15]
Bomb Ketch n/a 6 [16]
Large Gallivat n/a 20 [17]
Total - 31 [18]


Ship Type Rate No Ref
Ship of the Line Fourth-Rate 1 [19]
Sailing Frigate Fifth-Rate 1 [20]
Sloop-of-War n/a 3 [21]
Steam Sloop n/a 1 [22]
Brig n/a 2 [23]
Snow n/a 6 [24]
Ketch n/a 2 [25]
Total - 17 [26]

Shore Establishment's

Naval Dockyards

# Name Active Notes/Ref
1. Bombay Dockyard 1670–1949 [27]
2. Kidderpore Dockyard 1780–1949 [28]
3. Madras Dockyard 1796–1813 [29]

Ensigns and Flags


  1. "Royal Indian Marine/Navy". National Archives UK. 1840–1947. Retrieved 22 January 2020.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 "The Royal Indian Navy 1612 to 1947 Association - National Maritime Museum". Greenwich, London, England.: Royal Museums Greenwich. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  3. Sridharan. AVSM (Retd)., Rear-Admiral K. (1 January 1982). "The Bombay Marines versus the Sidis and Martha Navy (1686 to 1756)". A Maritime History of India. New Delhi, Republic of India.: Minister of Publications and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 105. ISBN 9781135146788.
  4. National Archives UK.
  5. Sridharan. AVSM (Retd)., Rear-Admiral K. (1982). "The Bombay and Bengal Marines and the Indian Navy". A Maritime History of India. New Delhi, Republic of India.: Minister of Publications and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 107. ISBN 9781135146788.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 Sridharan. AVSM (Retd)., Rear-Admiral K. (1982). "Appendix I: Chief's of the Navy of India". A Maritime History of India. New Delhi, Republic of India.: Minister of Publications and Broadcasting, Government of India. pp. 415–418. ISBN 9781135146788.
  7. "Bombay Town: Chapter VI: Military. Commission to Naval Commander-in-Chief". Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency. Madras, India.: Printed at the Government Central Press. 26: 200. 1894.
  8. Day, John Frederick. (April 2012) ' British Admiralty Control and Naval Power in the Indian Ocean (1793-1815) (Volume 1 of 2)'. Submitted as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Maritime History, University of Exeter. p. 429.
  9. Day. p. 429.
  10. "Letter from William Bruce, Resident at Bushire to Henry Meriton, Superintendent of the HC Marine, Bombay (1822)". Qatar Digital Library. Doha: Qatar National Library. 2014. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  11. "The Monthly Miscellany". The Asiatic Journal. London: Wm. H. Allen & Company. 25: 120. 1822.
  12. Parliament, British (1876). Reports from Commissioners. House of Commons. p. 216.
  13. Laughton, John Knox (1885–1900). Dictionary of National Biography: Malcolm, Charles (Vol 35 ed.). London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 402–403.
  14. Sridharan. p. 109.
  15. Sridharan. p. 109.
  16. Sridharan. p. 109.
  17. Sridharan. p. 109.
  18. Sridharan. p. 109.
  19. Sridharan. Appendix B. p. 419.
  20. Sridharan. Appendix B. p. 419.
  21. Sridharan. Appendix B. p. 419.
  22. Sridharan. Appendix B. p. 419.
  23. Sridharan. Appendix B. p. 419.
  24. Sridharan. Appendix B. p. 419.
  25. Sridharan. Appendix B. p. 419.
  26. Sridharan. Appendix B. p. 419.
  27. Sridharan. p. 122.
  28. Sridharan. p. 122.
  29. Sridharan. p. 122.


  1. Rear-Admiral Sir Charles Malcolm continued as Superintendent, Indian Navy until July, 1838
  2. Captain John Bythsea was promoted to Rear-Admiral on retirement continued in same role as head of H.M.'s Indian Marine until November, 1880


  1. This article includes copied content available from this source that is available for non commercial reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike (CC BY-NC-SA) licence
  2. Naval ensign images courtesy of Phil Nelson at Flags of the World (FOTW)..
  3. Naval Jack image courtesy of Blas Delgado Ortiz at (FOTW).