Home Fleet

The Home Fleet was a fleet of the Royal Navy that operated in the United Kingdom's territorial waters from 1902 with intervals until 1967. Before the First World War, it consisted of the four Port Guard ships. During the First World War, it comprised some of the older ships of the Royal Navy. During the Second World War, it was the Royal Navy's main battle force in European waters.

Home Fleet
Home Fleet 1904-05
HMS Neptune leading the Home Fleet before the First World War
Active1902–1904, 1907–1914, 1932–1967
Country United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
TypeFleet
Commanders
Notable
commanders
George Callaghan, John Tovey, Bruce Fraser

Pre-First World War

History

On 1 October 1902, the Admiral Superintendent Naval Reserves, then Vice-Admiral Gerard Noel, was given the additional appointment of Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, and allotted a rear-admiral to serve under him as commander of the Home Squadron.[2] "... the nucleus of the Home Fleet would consist of the four Port Guard ships, which would be withdrawn from their various scattered dockyards and turned into a unified and permanent sea-going command – the Home Squadron – based on Portland. Also under the direction of the commander-in-chief of the Home Fleet would be the Coast Guard ships, which would continue to be berthed for the most part in their respective district harbours in order to carry out their local duties, but would join the Home Squadron for sea work at least three times per year, at which point the assembled force – the Home Squadron and the Coast Guard vessels – would be known collectively as the Home Fleet."[3] Rear-Admiral George Atkinson-Willes was Second-in-Command of the Home Fleet, with his flag in the battleship HMS Empress of India, at this time.[4] In May 1903 Noel was succeeded as Commander-in-Chief by Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson.[5]

On 14 December 1904, the Channel Fleet was re-styled the Atlantic Fleet and the Home Fleet became the Channel Fleet.[6] In 1907, the Home Fleet was reformed with Vice-Admiral Francis Bridgeman in command, succeeded by Admiral Sir William May in 1909. Bridgeman took command again in 1911, and in the same year was succeeded by Admiral Sir George Callaghan. On 29 March 1912, a new structure of the fleet was announced, which came into force on 1 May 1912. The former Home Fleet, which was organised into four divisions, was divided into the First, Second and Third Fleets as Home Fleets.[7] The Home Fleets were the Navy's unified home commands in British waters from 1912 to 1914.[8] On 4 August 1914, as the First World War was breaking out, John Jellicoe was ordered to take command of the Fleet, which by his appointment order was renamed the Grand Fleet.

Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet

Post holders during the pre-war period were:'[9]

Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet [10]
1 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Gerard Noel 1 October 1902 – 21 May 1903
2 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Arthur Wilson 21 May 1903 – 31 December 1904
Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet [11]
1 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Francis Bridgeman 5 March 1907 – 24 March 1909
2 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir William May 24 March 1909 – 1911
3 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Francis Bridgeman 25 March 1911 – 5 December 1911
4 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir George Callaghan 5 December 1911 – 31 July 1912

Second in command

Post holders included:[12]

Rank Flag Name Term
Second-in-Command, Home Fleet
1 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg George L. Atkinson-Willes October 1902 – May 1903
2 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Edmund S. Poe May 1903 – June 1904
3 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Charles J. Barlow June – December 1904
4 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Archibald Berkeley 5 December 1911 – 31 July 1912
5 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir George A. Callaghan August 1910 – December 1911
6 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir John R. Jellicoe December 1911 – 31 July 1912

Chief of staff

Post holders included:[13]

Rank Flag Name Term
Chief of Staff, Home Fleet
1 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg the Hon. Alexander E. Bethell January 1908 – March 1909

Fleet divided into divisions

Note: There was no Home Fleet between 1905 and 1907 remaining ships at a lesser state of readiness were split into three reserve divisions: Devonport Division, Nore Division, and Portsmouth Division [14]

Unified command Home Fleets

The Home Fleets were a new organisation of the Royal Navy's unified home commands (First, Second and Third, Fleets) instituted on 31 July 1912 to December 1914. The Commander-in-Chiefs of the three home commands reported to the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleets.

Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleets

Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleets/First Fleet [16]
1 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir George Callaghan 31 July 1912 – December 1914

Second in command

Post holders included:[17]

Rank Flag Name Term
Second-in-Command, Home Fleets
1 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir John R. Jellicoe 31 July – December 1912
2 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg the Hon. Sir Stanley C. J. Colville June 1912 – June 1914
3 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Lewis Bayly June – August 1914

On 8 August 1914 units of the Home Fleets were distributed in accordance with Admiralty Fleet Order the majority of elements formed the new Grand Fleet others were assigned to the following units: Channel Fleet, Northern Patrol-Cruiser Force B, 7th Cruiser Squadron-Cruiser Force, 11th Cruiser Squadron-Cruiser Force E, Dover Patrol, Harwich Flotillas, 7th Destroyer Flotilla, 8th Destroyer Flotilla, 9th Destroyer Flotilla, 5th Submarine Flotilla, 6th Submarine Flotilla, 7th Submarine Flotilla and the 8th Submarine Flotilla.[18]

Inter-war period

History

When the Grand Fleet was disbanded in April 1919, the more powerful ships were reformed into the Atlantic Fleet and the older ships were reformed into the "Home Fleet"; this arrangement lasted until Autumn 1919, when the ships of the Home Fleet became the Reserve Fleet.

The name "Home Fleet" was resurrected in March 1932, as the new name for the Atlantic Fleet, following the Invergordon Mutiny.[20] The Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet in 1933 was Admiral Sir John Kelly. The Home Fleet comprised the flagship Nelson leading a force that included the 2nd Battle Squadron (five more battleships), the Battlecruiser Squadron (Hood and Renown), the 2nd Cruiser Squadron (Vice-Admiral Edward Astley-Rushton), CB, CMG aboard Dorsetshire (three cruisers), three destroyer flotillas (27), a submarine flotilla (six), two aircraft carriers and associated vessels.[21]

Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet

Post holders during the inter-war period were:[22]

Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet
1 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir John Kelly October 1931 – September 1933
2 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir William Boyle September 1933 – August 1935
3 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Roger Backhouse August 1935 – April 1938

Second World War

History

The Home Fleet was the Royal Navy's main battle force in European waters during the Second World War. On 3 September 1939, under Admiral Forbes flying his flag in Nelson at Scapa Flow, it consisted of the 2nd Battle Squadron, the Battle Cruiser Squadron, 18th Cruiser Squadron, Rear-Admiral, Destroyers, Rear-Admiral, Submarines (2nd Submarine Flotilla, Dundee, 6th Submarine Flotilla, Blyth, Northumberland), Vice-Admiral, Aircraft Carriers (Vice-Admiral L.V. Wells, with Ark Royal, Furious, and Pegasus), and the Orkney and Shetlands force.[24] Its chief responsibility was to keep Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine from breaking out of the North Sea. For this purpose, the First World War base at Scapa Flow was reactivated as it was well placed for interceptions of ships trying to run the blockade.

The two most surprising losses of the Home Fleet during the early part of the war were the sinking of the old battleship Royal Oak by the German submarine U-47 while supposedly safe in Scapa Flow, and the loss of the pride of the Navy, the battlecruiser Hood, to the German battleship Bismarck.

The operational areas of the Home Fleet were not circumscribed, and units were detached to other zones quite freely. However, the southern parts of the North Sea and the English Channel were made separate commands for light forces, and the growing intensity of the Battle of the Atlantic led to the creation of Western Approaches Command. Only with the destruction of the German battleship Tirpitz in 1944 did the Home Fleet assume a lower priority, and most of its heavy units were withdrawn to be sent to the Far East.

Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet

Post holders during the Second World War were:[25][26][27]
Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet
1 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Charles Forbes April 1938 – December 1940
2 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir John Tovey December 1940 – May 1943
3 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Bruce Fraser May 1943 – June 1944
4 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Henry Moore 14 June 1944 – 24 November 1945

Second in command

Post holders included:[28]

Rank Flag Name Term
Second-in-Command, Home Fleet
1 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Alban T.B. Curteis 1941 – June 1942
2 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Bruce A. Fraser June 1942 – June 1943
3 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Henry R. Moore June 1943 – June 1944
4 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Frederick H.G. Dalrymple-Hamilton June 1944 – April 1945
5 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Rhoderick R. McGrigor April – July 1945
6 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Angus E.M.B. Cunninghame Graham July 1945 – October 1946

Post-Second World War

History

After the Second World War, the Home Fleet took back all of its peacetime responsibilities for the Royal Navy forces in home waters and also in the North and South Atlantic. With the Cold War, greater emphasis was placed on protecting the North Atlantic from the Soviet Union in concert with other countries as part of NATO. Admiral Sir Rhoderick McGrigor supervised combined Western Union exercises involving ships from the British, French, and Dutch navies in June–July 1949. Admiral McGrigor flew his flag from the aircraft carrier Implacable. Also taking part in the exercises were Victorious and Anson, along with cruisers and destroyers. During the exercise, the combined force paid a visit to Mount's Bay in Cornwall from 30 June – 4 July 1949.[30]

Admiral Sir Philip Vian, who was Commander-in-Chief from 1950 to 1952, flew his flag in Vanguard.[31] In late 1951, Theseus joined the fleet as flagship of the 3rd Aircraft Carrier Squadron.[32]

From 1947 to 1957 superfluous battleships and aircraft carriers were assigned to the Home Fleet Training Squadron headquartered at Portland Dockyard to provide basic training. The carriers stationed here were mobilised as helicopter carriers for the Suez operation in 1956. In December 1951 the Admiralty authorised the creation of a new Heavy Squadron to be assigned to the Home Fleet it consisted of a battleship HMS Vanguard aircraft carriers and cruisers.[33] Its commanding officer was known as Flag Officer, Aircraft Carriers who had administrative responsibility for all the operational carriers the squadron was disbanded October 1954 [34]

The Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, gained an additional NATO responsibility as Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Atlantic, as part of SACLANT, when the NATO military command structure was established in 1953 at the Northwood Headquarters in northwest London. The Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet still flew his flag however in Tyne at Portsmouth. During Exercise Mainbrace in 1952, NATO naval forces came together for the first time to practice the defence of northern Europe; Denmark and Norway. The resulting McMahon Act difficulties caused by potential British control of the United States Navy's attack carriers armed with nuclear weapons led to the creation of a separate Striking Fleet Atlantic, directly responsible to the commander of the U.S. Navy's Atlantic Fleet, in his NATO position as SACLANT, by the end of 1952.[35]

The submarine tender Maidstone was the fleet's flagship in 1956. In 1960, C-in-C Home Fleet moved to Northwood, and in 1966 the NATO Channel Command (a post also held by C-in-C Home Fleet) moved to Northwood from Portsmouth.[36] In February 1963 all remaining frigate and destroyer squadrons in the Home, Mediterranean and Far East Fleets were merged into new Escort Squadrons.[37]

In April 1963, the naval unit at the Northwood Headquarters was commissioned as HMS Warrior under the command of the then Captain of the Fleet. In December 1966 all remaining squadrons in the Home Fleet were disbanded.[38] In 1967 the Home Fleet was amalgamated with the Mediterranean Fleet. With its area of responsibility greatly increased and no longer being just responsible for the defence of home waters of the UK, the name of the fleet was changed to the Western Fleet (1967-1971) and no squadrons existed in that Fleet.[39] Thus the famous, historic name of the Home Fleet was consigned to history.

Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet

Post holders after the Second World War were:[40][41]

Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet
1 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Edward Syfret November 1945 – January 1948
2 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Rhoderick McGrigor January 1948 – January 1950
3 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Philip Vian January 1950 – June 1952
4 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir George Creasy January 1952 – January, 1954
5 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Michael Denny January 1954 – January 1956
6 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir John Eccles January 1956 – January 1958
7 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir William Davis January 1958 – July 1960
8 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Wilfrid Woods July 1960 – January 1963
9 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Charles Madden January 1963 – July 1965
10 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir John Frewen July 1965 – October 1967

Notes

  1. ^ Smith.2015.
  2. ^ Matthew S. Seligmann, A prelude to the reforms of Admiral Sir John Fisher: the creation of the Home Fleet, 1902–3, Historical Research, 2009
  3. ^ Seligmann 2009, drawing upon T.N.A.: P.R.O., ADM 1/7606, docket Coast Guard, 24 March 1902, proposal by Sir Gerard Noel, 14 May 1902, and memorandum by Lord Walter Kerr, 17 May 1902.
  4. ^ Seligmann 2009
  5. ^ Heathcote, p. 195
  6. ^ National Archives record searches
  7. ^ Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony. "Home Fleets (Royal Navy) - The Dreadnought Project". www.dreadnoughtproject.org. Harley & Lovell, 22 August 2017.
  8. ^ Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony. "Home Fleets (Royal Navy) - The Dreadnought Project". www.dreadnoughtproject.org. Harley & Lovell, 22 August 2017.
  9. ^ Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony. "Home Fleet (Royal Navy) - The Dreadnought Project". www.dreadnoughtproject.org. Harley & Lovell, 12 May 2015. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  10. ^ Government, H.M. (October 1913). "Flag Officers - Vice Admirals". The Navy List. H.M. Stationery Office. p. 87.
  11. ^ Government, H.M. (October 1913). "Flag Officers - Vice Admirals". The Navy List. H.M. Stationery Office. p. 87.
  12. ^ Mackie, Colin. "Royal Navy Senior Appointments" (PDF). gulabin.com. Colin Mackie December 2107. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  13. ^ Mackie, Colin. "Royal Navy Senior Appointments" (PDF). gulabin.com. Colin Mackie. p.134. December 2107. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  14. ^ Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy Organisation and Ship Deployments 1900-1914: January 1905-February 1907". www.naval-history.net. Graham Smith, 8 August 2015. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  15. ^ Smith.2015.
  16. ^ Government, H.M. (October 1913). "Flag Officers - Vice Admirals". The Navy List. H.M. Stationery Office. p. 87.
  17. ^ Mackie, Colin. "Royal Navy Senior Appointments" (PDF). gulabin.com. Colin Mackie December 2107. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  18. ^ Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy Organisation and Ship Deployment, Inter-War Years 1914-1918: The Home Fleets were distributed in accordance with Admiralty Fleet Order dated 8th August 1914". www.naval-history.net. Graham Smith, 27 October 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  19. ^ Smith, Gordon. "Royal Navy Organisation and Ship Deployment, Inter-War Years 1919-1939". www.naval-history.net. Gordon Smith, 2 September 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  20. ^ Marder, Arthur (2015). From the Dardanelles to Oran: Studies of the Royal Navy in War and Peace 1915-1914. Seaforth Publishing. p. 48. ISBN 9781473849273.
  21. ^ Home Fleet listing for 1933
  22. ^ Mackie, Colin. "Royal Navy Senior Appointments from 1865" (PDF). gulabin.com. Colin Mackie, December 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  23. ^ Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy Orgnisation in World War 2, 1939-1945". www.naval-history.net. Graham Smith, 19 September 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  24. ^ Leo Niehorster, Home Fleet, 3 September 1939, accessed January 2009
  25. ^ Whitaker's Almanacks 1939 - 1945
  26. ^ Mackie, Colin. "Royal Navy Senior Appointments from 1865" (PDF). gulabin.com. Colin Mackie, December 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
  27. ^ Unit Histories, accessed July 2009
  28. ^ Mackie, Colin. "Royal Navy Senior Appointments" (PDF). gulabin.com. Colin Mackie, p.133, December 2107. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  29. ^ Watson.2015.
  30. ^ Visit of the Combined Western Union Fleet to Mount’s Bay 30 June to 4 July
  31. ^ Biography: Philip Vian Archived 15 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine Royal Naval Museum, accessed November 2009
  32. ^ Naval-history.net, HMS Theseus, accessed October 2011
  33. ^ Watson, Dr Graham. "Royal Navy Organisation and Ship Deployment 1947-2013". www.naval-history.net. Gordon Smith, 12 July 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  34. ^ Watson.2015.
  35. ^ Sean Maloney, Securing Command of the Sea, Masters' thesis, University of New Brunswick, 1992, p.234-247
  36. ^ Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom), Northwood Headquarters, accessed July 2009
  37. ^ Watson.2015.
  38. ^ Watson.2015.
  39. ^ Watson.2015.
  40. ^ Whitaker's Almanacks 1945–1963
  41. ^ Mackie, Colin. "Royal Navy Senior Appointments from 1865" (PDF). gulabin. Colin Mackie December 2017. Retrieved 29 December 2017.

Sources

  • Heathcote, Tony (2002). The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734 – 1995. Pen & Sword Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-835-6.
  • Lovell. Tony and Harley, Simon; (2015) "Home Fleet (Royal Navy) - The Dreadnought Project". www.dreadnoughtproject.org.
  • Mackie, Colin. (2017) "Royal Navy Senior Appointments from 1865" (PDF). gulabin.com.
  • Maloney, Sean. (1992), Securing Command of the Sea, Masters' thesis, University of New Brunswick. Canada.
  • Seligmann, Matthew S. (2009), A prelude to the reforms of Admiral Sir John Fisher: the creation of the Home Fleet, 1902–3,'Historical Research Article 83'. Institute of Historical Research, London. England

Further reading

  • Levy, J (2003). The Royal Navy's Home Fleet in World War 2. Palgrave Macmillan UK. ISBN 9780230511569.

External links

2nd Destroyer Flotilla

The British 2nd Destroyer Flotilla also styled as Second Destroyer Flotilla was a naval formation of the Royal Navy from 1909 to 1943 and again 1945 to 1946.

3rd Destroyer Flotilla

The British 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, also styled as Third Destroyer Flotilla, was a naval formation of the Royal Navy from 1909 to 1939 and again from 1945 to 1951.

4th Destroyer Flotilla

The British 4th Destroyer Flotilla also known as the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla was a naval formation of the Royal Navy from August 1909 to July 1951.

5th Destroyer Flotilla

The British 5th Destroyer Flotilla also known as the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla was a naval formation of the Royal Navy from 1910 to 1942 and again from 1947 to 1951.

E and F-class destroyer

The E and F-class destroyers were a group of 18 destroyers built for the Royal Navy during the 1930s. The ships were initially assigned to the Home Fleet, although they reinforced the Mediterranean Fleet during the Italian invasion of Abyssinia of 1935–36 and enforced the Non-Intervention Agreement during the Spanish Civil War of 1936–39. After the beginning of the Second World War in August 1939, the E-class ships were mostly assigned to escort duties under the Western Approaches Command, while the Fs were assigned to escort the ships of the Home Fleet. Between them they sank four German submarines through March 1940 while losing only one ship to a submarine.

Most of the sisters were committed to the Norwegian Campaign in April–June where they helped to sink one German destroyer and a submarine. The two E-class minelayer-destroyers helped to evacuate Allied troops from Dunkirk in May–June. Most of the Fs were sent to Gibraltar around the end of June and formed part of Force H where they participated in the attack on Mers-el-Kébir. Two months later they participated in the Battle of Dakar where they sank three Vichy French submarines. During the rest of 1940, they sank one Italian submarine while losing two ships to mines and torpedoes. Force H covered a number of convoys to Malta in 1941, during which they sank one German submarine and lost one destroyer to bombs. Three E-class ships began escorting convoys to Russia in late 1941 and three others were transferred to the Eastern Fleet.

Two of these latter were sunk by Japanese forces in early 1942 and two Fs were transferred to replace them. Many of the Fs reinforced the Arctic convoy escorts during which they fought several engagements with German destroyers and sank one German submarine. Several were detached to escort Malta convoys, during which one ship was lost. Several ships were converted to escort destroyers in late 1942–early 1943 for duty in the North Atlantic and many others were assigned there for extended periods of time where they sank two German submarines. Three of these ships were later transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy. Four of the Es and Fs were sent to the Mediterranean Fleet in mid-1943 to support the invasion of Sicily and remained there into 1944. One of these was transferred to the Royal Hellenic Navy that same year and remained in Greek service until 1956. The ships that remained in the Atlantic sank two German submarines in 1944 before they were recalled to the UK in May to prepare for the invasion of Normandy. There they sank two submarines, although another F-class ship was lost to a mine. The ships mostly returned to the North Atlantic after Overlord or began long refits in Canada.

The three Canadian ships were used to transport troops back to Canada after the end of the war before being broken up in 1947. Most of the British ships were broken up around the same time, although one ship was sold to the Dominican Navy in 1949 and served until 1968.

Formidable-class battleship

The Formidable-class of battleships were a three-ship class of pre-dreadnoughts designed by Sir William White and built for the Royal Navy in the late 1890s. The class comprised Formidable, Irresistible, and Implacable. They were armed with a battery of four 12-inch (305 mm) guns, they had top speed of 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph), and they marked the adoption of Krupp armour in British battleship designs. The class formed the basis for the nearly identical London class of five ships, and those ships are sometimes included in the Formidable class. Formidable, Irresistible, and Implacable were built between 1898 and 1901 at the Portsmouth, Chatham, and Devonport Dockyards, respectively.

All three ships served in the Mediterranean Fleet early in their careers, before returning to British waters in the late 1900s for duty in the Home Fleet, Channel Fleet, and the Atlantic Fleet. By 1912, all three ships had been assigned to the 5th Battle Squadron, Home Fleet, where they remained until the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914. They patrolled the English Channel in the early months of the war and escorted troopships carrying elements of the British Expeditionary Force and other British Army units across the Channel to France. On the night of 31 December 1914 – 1 January 1915 while on patrol in the Channel, the 5th Squadron encountered a German U-boat that torpedoed and sank Formidable. Irresistible was sent to the Dardanelles Campaign in February 1915, and after engaging in a series of attacks on the Ottoman coastal fortifications, she struck a naval mine and sank.

Implacable, the sole surviving member of the class, joined the Dardanelles operations in March 1915 and saw action during the landings at Cape Helles in April. She was later withdrawn, first in May 1915 to reinforce the Italian fleet guarding the Adriatic Sea and then to Salonika in November that year. After being recalled to Britain in July 1917, she was converted into a depot ship and used to support the Northern Patrol. After the war, she was sold for scrap in 1921 and was broken up in 1922.

HMS Britannia (1904)

HMS Britannia was a King Edward VII-class pre-dreadnought battleship of the Royal Navy. She was named after Britannia, the Latin name of Great Britain under Roman rule. The ship was built by Portsmouth Dockyard between 1904 and 1906. Armed with a battery of four 12-inch (305 mm) and four 9.2 in (234 mm) guns, she and her sister ships marked a significant advance in offensive power compared to earlier British battleship designs that did not carry the 9.2 in guns.

After commissioning in September 1906, she served briefly with the Atlantic Fleet from October to March 1907 before transferring to the Channel Fleet. She then joined the Home Fleet in 1909. In 1912, she, along with her sister ships, was assigned to the 3rd Battle Squadron, part of the Home Fleet. That year, the squadron went to the Mediterranean Sea during the First Balkan War as part of an international blockade of Montenegro. In 1913, the ship returned to British waters, where she was reassigned to the Second Division, Home Fleet.

When the First World War broke out, Britannia was transferred back to the 3rd Battle Squadron, which was assigned to the Grand Fleet, the main British fleet during the war. Through 1914 and 1915, the ships frequently went to sea to search for German vessels, but Britannia saw no action during this period. By the end of the year, the Grand Fleet stopped operating with the older 3rd Battle Squadron ships, and in 1916, she was attached to the 2nd Detached Squadron, then serving in the Adriatic Sea. After a refit in 1917, she conducted patrol and convoy escort duties in the Atlantic. On 9 November 1918, just two days before the end of the war, she was torpedoed by a German submarine off Cape Trafalgar and sank with the loss of 50 men. Britannia was one of the last British warships to be sunk in the war.

HMS Escort (H66)

HMS Escort was an E-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the early 1930s. Although assigned to the Home Fleet upon completion, the ship was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1935–36, during the Abyssinia Crisis. During the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939, she spent considerable time in Spanish waters, enforcing the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides of the conflict. Escort was assigned to convoy escort and anti-submarine patrol duties in the Western Approaches, when World War II began in September 1939. During the Norwegian Campaign, the ship escorted ships of the Home Fleet, although she did tow her sister HMS Eclipse after the latter ship had been badly damaged by German air attack. Escort was assigned to Force H in late June, and participated in the Attack on Mers-el-Kébir in early July. She was torpedoed a few days later, by an Italian submarine, but was towed for three days towards Gibraltar before she foundered.

HMS Fury (H76)

HMS Fury was an F-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the 1930s. Although assigned to the Home Fleet upon completion, the ship was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1935–36 during the Abyssinia Crisis. During the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939, she spent time in Spanish waters, enforcing the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides of the conflict. The ship escorted the larger ships of the fleet during the early stages of World War II and played a minor role in the Norwegian Campaign of 1940. Fury was sent to Gibraltar in mid-1940 and formed part of Force H where she participated in the attack on Mers-el-Kébir and the Battle of Dakar. The ship escorted numerous convoys to Malta in 1940–41 and Arctic convoys during 1942.

Fury was briefly transferred to the Mediterranean in August 1942 to participate in Operation Pedestal but returned to the Home Fleet immediately afterwards to resume her role screening convoys to Russia. She continued in this role until March 1943 when she began escorting convoys in the North Atlantic for several months. The ship was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet a few months later as the Allies began making landings in Italian territory in mid-1943. Later in the year, she participated in the Dodecanese Campaign in the Aegean where she helped to sink a German troop convoy. Fury returned to the Home Fleet in mid-1944 in preparation for Operation Neptune, the Allied invasion of France. The ship provided naval gunfire support during the landings until she struck a mine during a storm on 21 June and was then blown ashore. She was deemed uneconomical to repair and scrapping began in September.

HMS Renown (1916)

HMS Renown was the lead ship of her class of battlecruisers of the Royal Navy built during the First World War. She was originally laid down as an improved version of the Revenge-class battleships. Her construction was suspended on the outbreak of war on the grounds she would not be ready in a timely manner. Admiral Lord Fisher, upon becoming First Sea Lord, gained approval to restart her construction as a battlecruiser that could be built and enter service quickly. The Director of Naval Construction (DNC), Eustace Tennyson-D'Eyncourt, quickly produced an entirely new design to meet Admiral Lord Fisher's requirements and the builders agreed to deliver the ships in 15 months. They did not quite meet that ambitious goal, but the ship was delivered a few months after the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Renown, and her sister HMS Repulse, were the world's fastest capital ships upon completion.

Renown did not see combat during the war and was reconstructed twice between the wars; the 1920s reconstruction increased her armour protection and made other more minor improvements, while the 1930s reconstruction was much more thorough. The ship frequently conveyed royalty on their foreign tours and served as flagship of the Battlecruiser Squadron when Hood was refitting.

During the Second World War, Renown was involved in the search for the Admiral Graf Spee in 1939, participated in the Norwegian Campaign of April–June 1940 and the search for the German battleship Bismarck in 1941. She spent much of 1940 and 1941 assigned to Force H at Gibraltar, escorting convoys and she participated in the inconclusive Battle of Cape Spartivento. Renown was briefly assigned to the Home Fleet and provided cover to several Arctic convoys in early 1942. The ship was transferred back to Force H for Operation Torch and spent much of 1943 refitting or transporting Winston Churchill and his staff to and from various conferences with various Allied leaders. In early 1944, Renown was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean where she supported numerous attacks on Japanese-occupied facilities in Indonesia and various island groups in the Indian Ocean. The ship returned to the Home Fleet in early 1945 and was refitted before being placed in reserve after the end of the war. Renown was sold for scrap in 1948.

HMS Russell (1901)

HMS Russell was a Duncan-class pre-dreadnought battleship of the Royal Navy commissioned in 1903. Built to counter a group of fast Russian battleships, Russell and her sister ships were capable of steaming at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph), making them the fastest battleships in the world. The Duncan-class battleships were armed with a main battery of four 12-inch (305 mm) guns and they were broadly similar to the London-class battleships, though of a slightly reduced displacement and thinner armour layout. As such, they reflected a development of the lighter second-class ships of the Canopus-class battleship. Russell was built between her keel laying in March 1899 and her completion in February 1903.

Russell served with the Mediterranean Fleet until 1904, at which time she was transferred to the Home Fleet; in 1905 the Home Fleet became the Channel Fleet. She moved to the Atlantic Fleet in early 1907 before returning to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1909. In another fleet reorganisation in 1912, the Mediterranean Fleet became part of the Home Fleet and it was later transferred to British waters. Russell served as the flagship of the 6th Battle Squadron from late 1913 until the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914.

After the start of the war, Russell was assigned to the Grand Fleet and worked with the fleet's cruisers on the Northern Patrol, and in November, she bombarded German-occupied Zeebrugge. In November 1915 she was sent to the Mediterranean to support the Dardanelles Campaign, though she did not see extensive use there. On 27 April 1916 she was sailing off Malta when she struck two mines laid by a German U-boat. Most of her crew survived the sinking, though 125 men were killed.

HMS Swiftsure (1903)

HMS Swiftsure, originally known as Constitución, was the lead ship of the Swiftsure-class pre-dreadnought battleships. The ship was ordered by the Chilean Navy, but she was purchased by the United Kingdom as part of ending the Argentine–Chilean naval arms race. In British service, Swiftsure was initially assigned to the Home Fleet and Channel Fleets before being transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1909. She rejoined Home Fleet in 1912 and was transferred to the East Indies Station in 1913, to act as its flagship.

After the beginning of World War I in August 1914, Swiftsure escorted troop convoys in the Indian Ocean until she was transferred to the Suez Canal Patrol in December. After defending the Canal in early 1915 from Ottoman attacks, the ship was then transferred to the Dardanelles in February and saw action in the Dardanelles Campaign bombarding Ottoman fortifications. Swiftsure was assigned to convoy escort duties in the Atlantic from early 1916 until she was paid off in April 1917 to provide crews for anti-submarine vessels. In mid-1918, the ship was disarmed to be used as a blockship during a proposed second raid on Ostend. Swiftsure was sold for scrap in 1920.

HMS Triumph (1903)

HMS Triumph, originally known as Libertad, was the second of the two Swiftsure-class pre-dreadnought battleships of the Royal Navy. The ship was ordered by the Chilean Navy, but she was purchased by the United Kingdom as part of ending the Argentine–Chilean naval arms race. Triumph was initially assigned to the Home Fleet and Channel Fleets before being transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1909. The ship briefly rejoined the Home Fleet in 1912 before she was transferred abroad to the China Station in 1913. Triumph participated in the hunt for the German East Asia Squadron of Maximilian Graf von Spee and in the campaign against the German colony at Tsingtao, China early in World War I. The ship was transferred to the Mediterranean in early 1915 to participate in the Dardanelles Campaign against the Ottoman Empire. She was torpedoed and sunk off Gaba Tepe by the German submarine U-21 on 25 May 1915.

HMS Vanguard (23)

HMS Vanguard was a British fast battleship built during the Second World War and commissioned after the end of the war. She was the biggest and fastest of the Royal Navy's battleships, the last battleship to be launched in the world, and the only ship of her class.

The Royal Navy anticipated being outnumbered by the combined German and Japanese battleships in the early 1940s, and had therefore started building the Lion-class battleships. However the time-consuming construction of the triple-16-inch turrets for the Lion-class would delay their completion until 1943 at the earliest. The British had enough 15-inch (381 mm) guns and turrets in storage to allow one ship of a modified Lion-class design with four twin-15-inch turrets to be completed faster than the Lion-class vessels that had already been laid down.

Work on Vanguard was started and stopped several times during the war, and her design was revised several times during her construction to reflect war experience. These stoppages and changes prevented her from being completed before the end of the war.

Vanguard's first task after completing her sea trial at the end of 1946 was, early the next year, to convey King George VI and his family on the first Royal Tour of South Africa by a reigning monarch. While refitting after her return, she was selected for another Royal Tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1948. This was cancelled due to King George's declining health and Vanguard briefly became flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet in early 1949. After her return home in mid-1949, she became flagship of the Home Fleet Training Squadron. Throughout her career, the battleship usually served as the flagship of any unit to which she was assigned. During the early 1950s, Vanguard was involved in a number of training exercises with NATO forces. In 1953 she participated in Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation Review. While she was refitting in 1955, the Admiralty announced that the ship was going to be put into reserve upon completion of the work. Vanguard was sold for scrap and was broken up beginning in 1960.

HMS Welshman (M84)

HMS Welshman was an Abdiel-class minelayer of the Royal Navy. During World War II she served with the Home Fleet carrying out minelaying operations, before being transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in mid-1942 for the Malta Convoys. She also saw service during Operation Torch. The ship was torpedoed and sunk off Tobruk by the German submarine U-617 with the loss of 157 lives.

Implacable-class aircraft carrier

The Implacable-class aircraft carrier was a class of two aircraft carriers built for the Royal Navy during World War II. Derived from the design of the Illustrious class, they were faster and carried more aircraft than the older ships. They were initially assigned to the Home Fleet when completed in 1944 and attacked targets in Norway as well as the German battleship Tirpitz. Subsequently, they were assigned to the British Pacific Fleet (BPF).

Indefatigable was the first ship to go to the Pacific and attacked Japanese-controlled oil refineries in Sumatra en route. She participated in Operation Iceberg, the invasion of Okinawa in March–April 1945. Implacable's arrival in the Pacific was delayed by a refit and she did not begin operations against the Japanese until June. The sister ships participated in the attacks on the Japanese Home Islands in July and August. Indefatigable was the only carrier chosen to continue operations after most of the BPF withdrew to prepare for further operations in early August. After the Japanese formal surrender in September, Implacable ferried Allied troops and prisoners of war back to Australia and Canada for the rest of the year.

The sisters returned home in 1946; Indefatigable was used for the rest of the year to transport troops before being placed in reserve in 1947 and Implacable became the training carrier for Home Fleet. Indefatigable was converted into a training ship and reactivated in 1950 for service with the Home Fleet. Implacable was relegated to the reserve that same year and modified into a training ship in 1952. The sisters were scheduled for modernisation during the mid-1950s, but it was cancelled as the modernisation of the carrier in the queue ahead of them proved to be too expensive and lengthy. The sisters were decommissioned in 1954 and sold for scrap in 1955–56.

List of Eastern Fleet ships

The Eastern Fleet was a World War II formation of the British Royal Navy. It was formed from the ships and installations of the East Indies Station and the China Station (which are included in this list), with headquarters at Singapore, moving between Trincomalee and Kilindini after the Japanese advances in south east Asia made Singapore untenable as a naval base. See main article for details.

The following lists the warships and support ships of the Fleet, with dates served, fate and nationality.

List of squadrons and flotillas of the Royal Navy

This is a List of squadrons and flotillas of the Royal Navy.

Swiftsure-class battleship

The Swiftsure class was a group of two British pre-dreadnought battleships. Originally ordered by Chile during a period of high tension with Argentina, they were intended to defeat a pair of armoured cruisers ordered by the latter country and were optimized for this role. This meant that they were smaller and more lightly armed than most battleships of the time. They were purchased by the United Kingdom in 1903 prior to their completion to prevent their purchase by the Russian Empire as tensions were rising between them and the Japanese Empire, a British ally. Completed the following year, Swiftsure and Triumph had roughly similar careers for the first decade of their service careers. They were initially assigned to the Home Fleet and Channel Fleets before being transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1909. Both ships rejoined Home Fleet in 1912 and were transferred abroad in 1913, Swiftsure to the East Indies Station as its flagship, and Triumph to the China Station.

After the beginning of World War I in August 1914, Swiftsure escorted troop convoys in the Indian Ocean until she was transferred to the Suez Canal Patrol in December. After defending the Canal in early 1915 from Ottoman attacks, the ship was then transferred to the Dardanelles in February and saw action in the Dardanelles Campaign bombarding Ottoman fortifications. Triumph participated in the hunt for the German East Asia Squadron of Maximilian Graf von Spee and in the campaign against the German colony at Tsingtao, China. The ship was transferred to the Mediterranean in early 1915 to participate in the Dardanelles Campaign. She was torpedoed and sunk off Gaba Tepe by the German submarine U-21 on 25 May 1915.Swiftsure was assigned to convoy escort duties in the Atlantic from early 1916 until she was paid off in April 1917 to provide crews for anti-submarine vessels. In mid-1918, the ship was disarmed and stripped in order to be used as a blockship during a proposed second raid on Ostend. Swiftsure was sold for scrap in 1920.

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