Royal Indian Marine

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Royal Indian Marine
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Ensign of the Royal Indian Marine 1928 to 1934
CountryFlag of British India (1885-1947).png British India
AllegianceFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
Garrison/HQBombay Dockyard, India
FirstRear-Admiral Sir John Hext. KCIE. R.N.
LastCaptain Sir Edward James Headlam R.N.

The Royal Indian Marine (R.I.M.) was the naval force of British India established in 1892 when it replaced the earlier H.M. Indian Marine. It existed until 1934 when it was renamed the Royal Indian Navy.[1]


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]

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 Rear-Admiral Bythesea, NC, and became H.M. 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

Director Royal Indian Marine (1892-1898)

  1. Rear-Admiral Sir John Hext. KCIE. R.N. 1892 – February 1898.[5]

Officiating Director R.I.M. (1898)

  1. Captain A. Gwyn, R.I.M. February 1898 – 5 March 1898.[5]

Director R.I.M. (1898-1917)

  1. Captain Walter Somerville Goodridge CIE. 5 March 1898 – 5 March 1904.[5]
  2. Captain George Hayley Hewett CIE. 5 March 1904 – 17 March 1909.[5]
  3. Commodore Walter Lumsden CIE, CVO, 17 March 1909 – 12 June 1917.[5]

Officiating Director R.I.M. (1917-1920)

  1. Captain Neville Frederick Jarvis Wilson CMG, CBE, R.I.M. 12 June 1917 – April 1920.[5][6]
  2. Captain Benjamin Henry Jones, C.B.E. R.I.M. April May 1920.[5]
  3. Captain E. J. Headlam CSI, CMG, DSO. R.I.M. May 1920 – September, 1920.[5]

Director R.I.M. (1920-1929)

  1. Rear-Admiral Henry Lancelot Mawbey C.B. C.V.O. R.N. September, 1920 – June 1922.[5]
  2. Captain Sir Edward James Headlam CSI, CMG, DSO. R.N. June 1922 – October 1929.[5]

Flag Officer Commanding & Director, Royal Indian Marine (1929-1934)

  1. Rear-Admiral Humphrey Thomas Walwyn, October 1929 – 1 November 1932.
  2. Vice-Admiral Sir Humphrey Thomas Walwyn, 1 November 1932 – 2 October 1934.

Ensigns and Flags


  1. "Royal Indian Marine/Navy". Kew, Surrey, England: National Archives UK. 1840–1947. Retrieved 21 June 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. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Sridharan. AVSM (Retd)., Rear-Admiral K. (1 January 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.
  6. India, Army Headquarters (2012). Indian Army List January 1919 — Volume 1. Luton: Andrews UK Limited. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-78150-255-6.


  1. Broad Pennant images courtesy of Martin Grieve at CRW Flags.