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Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth
The "Victory" (Nelson's Flagship), stern, Portsmouth, England-LCCN2002708062.jpg
HMS Victory, flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Navy
Garrison/HQDockyard Commissioner's house, Portsmouth

The Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was a senior commander of the Royal Navy for hundreds of years. Portsmouth Command was a name given to the units, establishments, and staff operating under the post. The commanders-in-chief were based at premises in High Street, Portsmouth from the 1790s until the end of Sir Thomas Williams's tenure, his successor, Sir Philip Durham, being the first to move into Admiralty House at the Royal Navy Dockyard, where subsequent holders of the office were based until 1969. Prior to World War I the officer holder was sometimes referred to in official dispatches as the Commander-in-Chief, Spithead.[1]


The Command extended along the south coast from Newhaven in East Sussex to Portland in Dorset.[2] In 1889 the Commander-in-Chief took HMS Victory as his Flagship.[3]

Admiralty House, HMNB Portsmouth
Admiralty House, HMNB Portsmouth

In the late 18th century port admirals began to reside ashore, rather than on board their flagships; the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was provided with a large house at 111 High Street, which was renamed Admiralty House (and which had formerly been home to the Mayor of Portsmouth).[4] In the 1830s Admiralty House was sold to the War Office (as Government House, it went on to house the Lieutenant-Governor of Portsmouth for the next fifty years).[5] The Commander-in-Chief moved in turn into the former Dockyard Commissioner's house, which still stands within HMNB Portsmouth.[4]

During the Second World War the Command Headquarters was at Fort Southwick.[6] Operation Aerial, the evacuation from western French ports in 1940, was commanded by Admiral William Milbourne James, the Commander-in-Chief. James lacked the vessels necessary for convoys and organised a flow of troopships, storeships and motor vehicle vessels from Southampton, coasters to ply from Poole and the Dutch schuyts to work from Weymouth, while such warships as were available patrolled the shipping routes. Demolition parties sailed in the ships but it was hoped that supplies and equipment could be embarked as well as troops.[7]

In 1952 the Commander-in-Chief took up the NATO post of Commander-in-Chief, Channel (CINCHAN). This move added Allied Command Channel to the NATO Military Command Structure. The admiral commanding at Portsmouth had control naval operations in the area since 1949 under WUDO auspices.[8]

The post of Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was merged with that of Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth in 1969 to form the post of Commander-in-Chief, Naval Home Command.[9] The posts of Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command were amalgamated in 1994 following the rationalisation of the British Armed Forces following the end of the Cold War.[10] In 2012, however, all distinct Commander-in-Chief appointments were discontinued, with full operational command being vested instead in the First Sea Lord; he now flies his flag from HMS Victory.[11]

Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth

Post holder have included:[12][13]

Portsmouth Command

Considered as the most prestigious of the home commands, Portsmouth Command was responsible for the central part of the English Channel between Newhaven and Isle of Portland.[25][26][27] Below is a list of units that served under this command.

Main units


Main Units Commanded by Date Notes
HM Yachts Command Vice-Admiral Commanding HM Yachts
Newhaven Sub-Command Naval Officer-in-Charge Newhaven held by a Flag Officer usually retired
Poole Naval Area Naval Officer-in-Charge Poole held by a Flag Officer usually retired
Portsmouth Dockyard Admiral-superintendent, Portsmouth 1832–1969 renamed Flag Officer, Portsmouth and Admiral Superintendent
Portsmouth Command HQ Chief of Staff to CinC, Portsmouth 1832–1969 Flag Officer, in Charge of Headquarters Staff
Portland Naval Base Senior Naval Officer, Portland 1908–1914 held by a Captain up-to the rank of RAdm.
Portland Sub-Command Flag Officer-in-Charge Portland 1914–1958
Royal Naval Barracks, Portsmouth Commodore RN Barracks,Portsmouth 1898–1969 renamed Commander, Naval Base Portsmouth
Southampton Sub-Command Flag Officer-in-Charge Southampton
Weymouth Naval Area Naval Officer-in-Charge Weymouth held by a Flag Officer usually retired

Naval units


Naval Units Commanded by Date Notes
1st Anti-Submarine Flotilla 1939–1945
3rd Battle Squadron Rear-Admiral, Commanding 3rd Battle Squadron 1939–1942 Component of Channel Force, 1939
1st Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 1st Destroyer Flotilla 01/1918-01/1919
1st Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 1st Destroyer Flotilla 07/1940-05/1945
4th Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 4th Destroyer Flotilla 12/1916-03/1917
12th Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 12th Destroyer Flotilla 1939-08/1940
16th Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 16th Destroyer Flotilla 1939-08/1940
18th Destroyer Flotilla Captain (D), 18th Destroyer Flotilla 09-10/1939
4th Minesweeper Flotilla Officer Commanding, 4th Minesweeper Flotilla 04/1944-12/1944
9th Minesweeper Flotilla Officer Commanding, 9th Minesweeper Flotilla 11/1940-05/1945
14th Minesweeper Flotilla Officer Commanding, 13th Minesweeper Flotilla 09/1941-12/1944
2nd Submarine Flotilla Officer Commanding, 2nd Submarine Flotilla 08/1914-08/1916
3rd Submarine Flotilla Officer Commanding, 3rd Submarine Flotilla 1919–1922 based at Gosport
5th Submarine Flotilla Officer Commanding, 5th Submarine Flotilla 1919–1939 based at Gosport – training & reserve flotilla
6th Submarine Flotilla Officer Commanding, 6th Submarine Flotilla 1919–1939 based at Portland – ASW training & reserve flotilla
Channel Force Rear-Admiral Commanding, Channel Force September–October, 1939 based at Portland
Fishery Protection Flotilla Officer Commanding, Fishery Protection Flotilla 1919–1927
Fishery Protection and Minesweeping Flotilla Captain of Fishery Protection and Minesweeping Flotilla 1923–1945
Fishery Protection Squadron Captain, Fishery Protection Squadron 1945–1969
Newhaven Local Defence Flotilla Officer Commanding, Newhaven Local Defence Flotilla 1914–1918
Portsmouth Escort Flotilla Officer Commanding, Portsmouth Escort Flotilla 01/1916-01/1918 renamed 1st Destroyer Flotilla
Portland Local Defence Flotilla Officer Commanding, Portland Local Defence Flotilla 1914–1918
Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla Officer Commanding, Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla 1914–1927
Reserve Fleet Flag Officer Commanding, Reserve Fleet 1700–1960
Royal Navy Coastal Forces Rear-Admiral, Coastal Forces 1914–1918, 1939–1968
Royal Navy Submarine Service Chief of the Submarine Service 1919–1929
Royal Navy Submarine Service Rear Admiral Submarines 1929–1944
Royal Navy Submarine Service Flag Officer, Submarines 1944–1969

Shore units


Other Units Commanded by Date Notes
HMS Dolphin (shore establishment) 1904–1969 Royal Navy Submarine School
HMS Dryad (establishment) 1939–1969 Royal Navy's Maritime Warfare School
HMS Grasshopper (establishment) 1939–1946 Coastal forces base, Weymouth
HMS Hornet (shore establishment) 1941–1956 HQ Coastal Force
HMS Marlborough (shore establishment) 1939–1945 Torpedo school, Eastbourne
HMS Mercury (shore establishment) Captain of Royal Navy Signals School 1941–1969 Royal Navy Signals School and Combined Signals School
HMS King Alfred (shore establishment) 1939–1946 RNVR officers training establishment- Sussex Division – Hove
Portsmouth Signal School Captain of Portsmouth Signal School 1916–1941
Signal School Superintendent of Signal Schools 1901–1920
HMS St Vincent (shore establishment) 1927–1969 Boys Training School, Gosport
HMS Sultan (establishment) 1914–1969 Mechanical engineering school
HMS Turtle (establishment) 1946–? Combined operations training establishment, based at Poole
HMS Vernon (shore establishment) 1876–1969 Torpedo and mining school


  1. ^ McLynn, Frank (2015). "5: Revolutionary Attempts". Invasion: From The Armada to Hitler. London, England: Crux Publishing Ltd. ISBN 9781909979314.
  2. ^ "Sea Your History". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  3. ^ A Chronolgy of HMS Victory Royal Naval Museum
  4. ^ a b "Government House". History in Portsmouth. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
  5. ^ "Dockyard Chronology" (PDF). Portsmouth Dockyard. p. 63. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  6. ^ Capel, A.F., Commanding Canadians: the Second World War diaries of A.F.C. Layard, page 310 University of Columbia Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-7748-1193-4
  7. ^ Ellis 2004, p. 302.
  8. ^ "Fort Southwick NATO Communications Centre". Subterranean Britain. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
  9. ^ "Port admirals (Commanders-in-Chief) Portsmouth (1714–1931)". History in Portsmouth. Archived from the original on 27 June 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
  10. ^ Admiral Sir Michael Layard, KCB, CBE
  11. ^ "An independent report into the structure and management of the Ministry of Defence" (PDF).
  12. ^ Mackie, Gordon. "Royal Navy Senior Appointments from 1865" (PDF). Gordon Mackie, February 2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  13. ^ Harrison, Simon. "John Graydon (c.1666-1725/26) from National Archives UK: ADM 6/3 Commission and Warrant Book 1694/5 Jan.-1696 25 May". Simon Harrison, 2010–2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  14. ^ Charnock, John (1794). Biographia navalis; or, Impartial memoirs of the lives ... of officers of the navy of Great Britain from ... 1660. London, England: R, Faulder. p. 17.
  15. ^ Harrison, Simon. "John Graydon (c.1666-1725/26) from National Archives UK: ADM 6/3 Commission and Warrant Book 1694/5 Jan.-1696 25 May". Simon Harrison, 2010–2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  16. ^ Harrison, Simon. "Sir James Wishart (d.1723) from National Archives UK: ADM 6/8 Commission and Warrant Book 1703 6 July-1706 3 July". Simon Harrison, 2010–2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  17. ^ Harrison, Simon. "John Neville (d.1697):from National Archives UK ADM6/7 Commission and Warrant Book 1696 25 May-1698 20 Jan". Simon Harrison, 2010–2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  18. ^ Harrison, Simon. "Henry Haughton (d.1703) from National Archives UK: ADM 6/5 Commission and Warrant Book 1698 28 Jan.-1699 1 June". Simon Harrison, 2010–2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  19. ^ Harrison, Simon. "Thomas Warren (d.1699) from National Archives UK: ADM 6/5 Commission and Warrant Book 1698 28 Jan.-1699 1 June". Simon Harrison, 2010–2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  20. ^ Lincoln, Margarette (2016). British Pirates and Society, 1680–1730. Abingdon, England: Routledge. p. 167. ISBN 9781317171676.
  21. ^ Harrison, Simon. "Basil Beaumont (1669–1703) from National Archives UK, ADM 6/5 Commission and Warrant Book 1698 28 Jan.-1699 1 June". Simon Harrison, 2010–2018. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
  22. ^ Harrison, Simon. "Sir James Wishart (d.1723) from National Archives UK: ADM 6/8 Commission and Warrant Book 1703 6 July-1706 3 July". Simon Harrison, 2010–2018. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  23. ^ Harrison, Simon (2010–2018). "Richard Lestock (1678/79-1748)". S. Harrison. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Letter regarding CINCHAN appointment" (PDF). NATO. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  25. ^ Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy Organisation and Ship Deployment, Inter-War Years 1919–1939". Gordon Smith, 2 September 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  26. ^ Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy Organisation in World War 2, 1939–1945". Gordon Smith, 19 September 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  27. ^ Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy Organisation and Ship Deployment, Inter-War Years 1914–1918". Gordon Smith, 27 October 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  28. ^ Houterman, J.N.; Koppes, Jerome. "Royal Navy, Portsmouth Command 1939–1945". Houterman and Koppes, 2004–2006. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  29. ^ a b c Watson. 2015
  30. ^ a b Houterman and Koppes. 2004–2005
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