Mediterranean Fleet

The British Mediterranean Fleet also known as the Mediterranean Station [1] was part of the Royal Navy. The Fleet was one of the most prestigious commands in the navy for the majority of its history, defending the vital sea link between the United Kingdom and the majority of the British Empire in the Eastern Hemisphere. The first Commander-in-Chief for the Mediterranean Fleet was the appointment of General at Sea Robert Blake in September 1654 (styled as Commander of the Mediterranean Fleet) [2] the Fleet was in existence until 1967.

Mediterranean Fleet
British warships, Malta 1902
The battleships Bulwark, Renown and Ramillies at Malta in 1902
ActiveSeptember 1654 – 5 June 1967
Country United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
TypeFleet
Garrison/HQMalta
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Samuel Hood, Horatio Nelson, Andrew Cunningham

Pre-Second World War

Malta - Valletta - Triq Nofs-in-Nhar - National Museum of Fine Arts 05 ies
Admiralty House in Valletta, Malta, official residence of the Commander-in-Chief from 1821 to 1961

The Royal Navy gained a foothold in the Mediterranean Sea when Gibraltar was captured by the British in 1704 during the War of Spanish Succession, and formally allocated to Britain in the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.[3] Though the British had maintained a naval presence in the Mediterranean before, the capture of Gibraltar allowed the British to establish their first naval base there. The British also used Port Mahon, on the island of Menorca, as a naval base. However, British control there was only temporary; Menorca changed hands numerous times, and was permanently ceded to Spain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens.[4] In 1800, the British took Malta, which was to be handed over to the Knights of Malta under the Treaty of Amiens. When the Napoleonic Wars resumed in 1803, the British kept Malta for use as a naval base. Following Napoleon's defeat, the British continued their presence in Malta, and turned it into the main base for the Mediterranean Fleet. Between the 1860s and 1900s, the British undertook a number of projects to improve the harbours and dockyard facilities, and Malta's harbours were sufficient to allow the entire fleet to be safely moored there.[5][6]

In the last decade of the nineteenth century, the Mediterranean Fleet was the largest single squadron of the Royal Navy, with ten first-class battleships—double the number in the Channel Fleet—and a large number of smaller warships.[7]

On 22 June 1893, the bulk of the fleet, eight battleships and three large cruisers, were conducting their annual summer exercises off Tripoli, Lebanon, when the fleet's flagship, the battleship HMS Victoria, collided with the battleship HMS Camperdown. Victoria sank within fifteen minutes, taking 358 crew with her. Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon, commander of the Mediterranean Fleet, was among the dead.[8]

Of the three original Invincible-class battlecruisers which entered service in the first half of 1908, two (Inflexible and Indomitable) joined the Mediterranean Fleet in 1914. They and Indefatigable formed the nucleus of the fleet at the start of the First World War when British forces pursued the German ships Goeben and Breslau.[9]

A recently modernised Warspite became the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief and Second-in-Command, Mediterranean Fleet in 1926.[10]

Second World War

Malta, as part of the British Empire from 1814, was a shipping station and was the headquarters for the Mediterranean Fleet until the mid-1930s. Due to the perceived threat of air-attack from the Italian mainland, the fleet was moved to Alexandria, Egypt, shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.[11]

Sir Andrew Cunningham took command of the fleet from Warspite on 3 September 1939, and under him the major formations of the Fleet were the 1st Battle Squadron (Warspite, Barham, and Malaya) 1st Cruiser Squadron (Devonshire, Shropshire, and Sussex), 3rd Cruiser Squadron (Arethusa, Penelope, Galatea), Rear Admiral John Tovey, with the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Destroyer Flotillas, and the aircraft carrier Glorious.[12]

In 1940, the Mediterranean Fleet carried out a successful aircraft carrier attack on the Italian Fleet at Taranto by air. Other major actions included the Battle of Cape Matapan and the Battle of Crete. The Fleet had to block Italian and later German reinforcements and supplies for the North African Campaign.[13]

Post war

In October 1946, Saumarez hit a mine in the Corfu Channel, starting a series of events known as the Corfu Channel Incident. The channel was cleared in "Operation Recoil" the next month, involving 11 minesweepers under the guidance of Ocean, two cruisers, three destroyers, and three frigates.[14]:154

In May 1948, Sir Arthur Power took over as Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, and in his first act arranged a show of force to discourage the crossing of Jewish refugees into Palestine. When later that year Britain pulled out of the British Mandate of Palestine, Ocean, four destroyers, and two frigates escorted the departing High Commissioner, aboard the cruiser Euryalus. The force stayed to cover the evacuation of British troops into the Haifa enclave and south via Gaza.[15]

From 1952 to 1967, the post of Commander in Chief Mediterranean Fleet was given a dual-hatted role as NATO Commander in Chief of Allied Forces Mediterranean in charge of all forces assigned to NATO in the Mediterranean Area. The British made strong representations within NATO in discussions regarding the development of the Mediterranean NATO command structure, wishing to retain their direction of NATO naval command in the Mediterranean to protect their sea lines of communication running through the Mediterranean to the Middle East and Far East.[16] When a NATO naval commander, Admiral Robert B. Carney, C-in-C Allied Forces Southern Europe, was appointed, relations with the incumbent British C-in-C, Admiral Sir John Edelsten, were frosty. Edlesten, on making an apparently friendly offer of the use of communications facilities to Carney, who initially lacked secure communications facilities, was met with "I'm not about to play Faust to your Mephistopheles through the medium of communications!"[16]:261

In 1956, ships of the fleet, together with the French Navy, took part in the Suez War against Egypt.[17]

From 1957 to 1959, Rear Admiral Charles Madden held the post of Flag Officer Malta, with responsibilities for three squadrons of minesweepers, an amphibious warfare squadron, and a flotilla of submarines stationed at the bases around Valletta Harbour. In this capacity, he had to employ considerable diplomatic skill to maintain good relations with Dom Mintoff, the nationalistic prime minister of Malta.[18]

In the 1960s, as the importance of maintaining the link between the United Kingdom and British territories and commitments East of Suez decreased as the Empire was dismantled, and the focus of Cold War naval responsibilities moved to the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean Fleet was gradually drawn down, finally disbanding in June 1967. Eric Grove, in Vanguard to Trident, details how by the mid-1960s the permanent strength of the Fleet was "reduced to a single small escort squadron [appears to have been 30th Escort Squadron with HMS Brighton, HMS Cassandra, HMS Aisne plus another ship] and a coastal minesweeper squadron."[14]:297 Deployments to the Beira Patrol and elsewhere reduced the escort total in 1966 from four to two ships, and then to no frigates at all. The Fleet's assets and area of responsibility were absorbed into the new Western Fleet. As a result of this change, the UK relinquished the NATO post of Commander in Chief, Allied Forces Mediterranean, which was abolished.[19]

Principal officers

Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Sea

Note: This list is incomplete. The majority of officers listed were appointed as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Sea sometimes Commander-in-Chief, at the Mediterranean Sea earlier officers appointed to command either fleets/squadrons stationed in the Mediterranean for particular operations were styled differently see notes next to their listing

Commander-in-chief From To Flagship Note
General at Sea: Robert Blake[20][21] September 1654 August 1657 (styled as Commander of the Fleet for the Mediterranean and Commander of the Mediterranean Fleet)
Admiral of the Blue: Sir Thomas Allin [22] 1668 1669
Admiral of the Blue: Sir George Rooke [23] August 1695 1696
Vice-Admiral: John Neville[24][25] November 1696 August 1697 HMS Cambridge
Admiral of the Fleet: Sir Cloudesley Shovell [26][27] May 1705 1707 HMS Britannia (styled as Commander British Mediterranean Fleet and commanding operations in the Mediterranean in 1707)
Admiral of the white: Sir John Leake [28][29] January 1707 1708
Admiral of the White: George Byng[30] 1708 (styled as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Squadron)
Admiral of the Blue: Sir John Norris[31][32] December 1709 1710
Admiral of the White: Sir John Jennings[33][34] November 1710 1711 HMS Blenheim
Admiral of the White Sir James Wishart[35][36] December 1713 1714 HMS Rippon
Vice-Admiral of the Blue: John Baker [37][38] February 1714 1715 HMS Lion
Vice-Admiral of the Blue: Charles Cornewall [39][40] October 1716 1717
Admiral of the White: George Byng[41] June 1718 1720 (styled as Commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet)
Rear-Admiral of the White: Hon. George Clinton [42][43] April 1737
Rear-Admiral of the Red: Nicholas Haddock[44][45] May 1738 December 1741
Rear-Admiral of the White: Richard Lestock[46][47] November 1741 December 1741 HMS Neptune
Vice-Admiral of the Red: Thomas Mathews[48][49] March 1742
Vice-admiral of the White: Richard Lestock[50] December 1743 1744
Vice-Admiral of the Blue: William Rowley[51][52] June 1744 July 1745 HMS Neptune
Vice-Admiral of the White: Henry Medley[53][54] July 1745 August 1747 HMS Russell
Vice-Admiral of the Blue: Hon. John Byng [55] September 1747 August 1748 HMS Princess
Rear-Admiral of the White: John Forbes[56] August 1748 1749 (as Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean)
Rear-Admiral of the Blue: Charles Saunders[57] January 1757 May 1757

Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet

Commanders in Chief of the Mediterranean Station 1
Commanders-in-chief on the Mediterranean Station 1792–1883
Commanders in Chief of the Mediterranean Station, 1886-1957
Commanders-in-chief on the Mediterranean Station, 1886–1957

The first Commander-in-Chief for the Mediterranean Fleet may have been named as early as 1665.[58] Commanders-in-chief have included:[59][60]

Commander-in-chief From To Flagship Note
Vice-Admiral Henry Osborn[61] May 1757 April 1760
Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Saunders April 1760 1763
Vice-Admiral Augustus Hervey 1763 ?
Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Spry 1766 1769
Vice-Admiral Lord Howe[62] 1770 1774
Vice-Admiral Robert Man[63] 1774 1778
Vice-Admiral Robert Duff[63] 1778 1780
Vacant[63] 1780 1783
Vice-Admiral Sir John Lindsay 1783 1784
Vice-Admiral Phillips Cosby 1785 1789
Rear-Admiral Joseph Peyton 1789 1792
Rear-Admiral Samuel Granston Goodall 1792 1793
Vice-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood February 1793 October 1794
Vice-Admiral Lord Hotham October 1794 November 1795
Vice-Admiral Lord Jervis 1796 1799
Vice-Admiral Lord Keith November 1799 1802
Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson [59][64] May 1803 January 1805 Died after Battle of Trafalgar
Vice-Admiral Lord Collingwood 1805 1810
Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Cotton[65] 1810 1811
Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Pellew 1811 1814
Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Penrose 1814 1815
Vice-Admiral Lord Exmouth 1815 1816
Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Penrose 1816 1818
Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Fremantle[66] 1818 1820
Vice-Admiral Sir Graham Moore 1820 1823
Vice-Admiral Sir Harry Burrard-Neale 1823 1826
Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Codrington 1826 1828
Vice-Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm 1828 1831
Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Hotham[59][64] 30 March 1831 19 April 1833 Died 19 April 1833
Vice-Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm 3 May 1833 18 December 1833
Vice-Admiral Sir Josias Rowley 18 December 1833 9 February 1837
Admiral Sir Robert Stopford 9 February 1837 14 October 1841
Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Owen 14 October 1841 27 February 1845
Vice-Admiral Sir William Parker 27 February 1845 13 July 1846 Parker was briefly First Naval Lord in July 1846 but requested permission to return to the Mediterranean on ground of his health.[67]
Vice-Admiral Sir William Parker 24 July 1846 17 January 1852
Rear-Admiral Sir James Dundas 17 January 1852 1854 Vice-Adm. 17 December 1852
Rear-Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons 1854 22 February 1858 Vice-Adm. 19 March 1857
Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Fanshawe 22 February 1858 19 April 1860 Marlborough [68]
Vice-Admiral Sir William Martin 19 April 1860 20 April 1863 Marlborough [69]
Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Smart 20 April 1863 28 April 1866 Marlborough[70] then Victoria [71]
Vice-Admiral Lord Clarence Paget 28 April 1866 28 April 1869 Victoria then Caledonia[72]
Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Milne 28 April 1869 25 October 1870 Lord Warden [73] Adm. 1 April 1870
Vice-Admiral Sir Hastings Yelverton 25 October 1870 13 January 1874 Lord Warden [74]
Vice-Admiral Sir James Drummond 13 January 1874 15 January 1877 Lord Warden then Hercules [75]
Vice-Admiral Sir Geoffrey Hornby 5 January 1877 5 February 1880 Alexandra [76] Adm. 15 June 1879
Vice-Admiral Sir Beauchamp Seymour 5 February 1880 7 February 1883 Inconstant and Alexandra[77] Adm. 6 May 1882
Vice-Admiral Lord John Hay 7 February 1883 5 February 1886 Alexandra[78] Adm. 8 July 1884
Vice-Admiral H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh 5 February 1886 11 March 1889 Alexandra[79]:222 Adm. 18 October 1887
Vice-Admiral Sir Anthony Hoskins 11 March 1889 20 August 1891 Alexandra Mar 89 – Dec 89
Camperdown Dec 89 – May 90
Victoria May 90 onwards[79]:222, 320, 336
Adm. 20 June 1891
Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon 20 August 1891 22 June 1893 Victoria[80] Died in commission; lost in Victoria
Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour 29 June 1893 10 November 1896 Ramillies[79]:362
Admiral Sir John Hopkins 10 November 1896 1 July 1899 Ramillies[81]
Admiral Sir John Fisher 1 July 1899 4 June 1902[82] Renown
Admiral Sir Compton Domvile[83] 4 June 1902 June 1905 Bulwark[81]
Admiral Lord Charles Beresford [84][85][86] appointed 1 May 1905
assumed command 6 June 1905
February 1907 Bulwark
Admiral Sir Charles Drury[87] appointed 5 March 1907
assumed command 27 March 1907
1908 Queen
Admiral Sir Assheton Curzon-Howe [88][89] appointed 20 November 1908
assumed command 20 November 1908
1910 Exmouth
Admiral Sir Edmund Poë [89][90] appointed 30 April 1910
assumed command 30 April 1910
November 1912 Exmouth[81]
Admiral Sir Berkley Milne [91][92]:287, 289, 422[93] appointed 1 June 1912
assumed command 12 June 1912
27 August 1914 Inflexible
During World War I plans were put in place to separate the Mediterranean into specific areas of responsibility. The British were charged with responsibility for Gibraltar, Malta, Egyptian coast, and Aegean in August 1917 Vice Admiral Somerset Gough-Calthorpe became CinC, MF commanding all British forces in the Mediterranean. Overall allied command would remain under the control of the Allied Commander in Chief, who was the head of the French Navy. Vice-Admiral Somerset Gough-Calthorpe was also responsible for coordinating other allied forces in Mediterranean. British forces were divided into a number of sub-commands namely Gibraltar, Malta, the British Adriatic Squadron, the British Aegean Squadron, the Egypt Division and Red Sea and the Black Sea and Marmora Force. [94] Post titles have been put in bold in the notes column.
Admiral Sir Somerset Gough-Calthorpe[92]:323[95]:80[96][97] 26 August 1917 25 July 1919 Superb Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean
Vice Admiral Sir John de Robeck[95]:85 & 94[98] 26 July 1919 14 May 1922 Iron Duke
Vice Admiral Sir Osmond Brock[95]:92[99] 15 May 1922 7 June 1925 Iron Duke Admiral 31 July 1924
Admiral Sir Roger Keyes[100] 8 June 1925 7 June 1928 Warspite
Admiral Sir Frederick Field 8 June 1928 28 May 1930 Queen Elizabeth[95]:121
Admiral Sir Ernle Chatfield[101] 27 May 1930 31 October 1932 Queen Elizabeth[95]
Admiral Sir William Fisher [102][95][103][104] 31 October 1932 19 March 1936 Resolution later Queen Elizabeth[95]:121 & 123
Admiral Sir Dudley Pound[95]:140
[103][105]
20 March 1936 31 May 1939 Queen Elizabeth[81]
During World War II, the Mediterranean Station was split between commands some of the time. Post titles in the notes column.
Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham [105][106][107] 1 June 1939
6 June 1939
assumed command
March 1942 Warspite August 1939
HMS St Angelo (base, Malta) April 1940
Warspite February 1941
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet. Vice-Admiral Cunningham was given acting rank of Admiral on 1 June 1930, and promoted to Admiral on 3 January 1941.
Admiral Sir Henry Harwood [107] 22 April 1942 February 1943 Warspite
HMS Nile (base, Alexandria) Aug 1942
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet. Vice-Admiral Harwood was given acting rank of Admiral.
Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham [105][106][107] 1 November 1942 20 February 1943 HMS Hannibal (base, Algiers) Naval Commander Expeditionary Force (NCXF) North Africa and Mediterranean
In the February 1943 the Mediterranean Fleet Command was divided into a command of ships and a command of ports & naval bases:
Mediterranean Fleet: Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, 15th Cruiser Squadron, Cdre. (D)
Levant: Commander-in-Chief, Levant, Alexandria, Malta, Port Said, Haifa, Bizerta, Tripoli, Mersa Matruh, Benghazi, Aden, Bone, Bougie, Philippeville
Levant Command was renamed Levant and Eastern Mediterranean Command in late December 1943.[108]

In January 1944 the two separate commands were re-unified into a single command with the Flag Officer, Levant and East Mediterranean, (FOLEM) reporting to CINC Mediterranean Fleet.[109]

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham [105][106][107] 20 February 1943 15 October 1943 HMS Hannibal (base, Algiers/Taranto) Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet.
Admiral Sir John Cunningham [106][107] 15 October 1943 February 1946 HMS Hannibal (base, Algiers/Taranto) Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Station & Allied Naval Commander Mediterranean
Admiral Sir Algernon Willis[110] 1946 1948 HMS St Angelo (base, Malta)[81]
Admiral Sir Arthur Power 1948 1950 HMS St Angelo (base, Malta)[81] Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean
Admiral Sir John Edelsten 1950 1952 HMS St Angelo (base, Malta)[81] Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean
Admiral Earl Mountbatten of Burma 1952 1954 HMS St Angelo (base, Malta)[81] Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean
Admiral Sir Guy Grantham[111] 10 Dec 1954 10 Apr 57 HMS St Angelo (base, Malta)[81]
Vice Admiral Sir Ralph Edwards 10 Apr 57 11 Nov 58 HMS St Angelo (base, Malta)[81]
Admiral Sir Charles Lambe 11 Nov 58 2 Feb 59 HMS Phoenicia (base, Malta)[81]
Admiral Sir Alexander Bingley 2 Feb 59 30 Jun 61 HMS Phoenicia (base, Malta)[81]
Admiral Sir Deric Holland-Martin 30 Jun 61 1 Feb 64 HMS Phoenicia (base, Malta)[81]
Admiral Sir John Hamilton[14]:297 1 Feb 1964 5 June 1967 HMS St Angelo (base, Malta)[81]

Chief of Staff

The Chief of Staff was the principal staff officer (PSO), who is the coordinator of the supporting staff or a primary aide-de-camp to the Commander-in-Chief.

Name Date/s Notes/Ref
Chief of Staff Mediterranean Fleet 1893 to 1967 [a][107]
Additional Chief of Staff, Mediterranean Fleet 1943 to 1944 [b][107]

Fleet Headquarters

The Mediterranean Fleets shore headquarters was initially based at Port Mahon Dockyard, Minorca for most of the eighteenth century. It rotated between Gibraltar and Malta from 1791 to 1812. From 1813 to July 1939 it was permanently at Malta Dockyard. In August 1939 the C-in-C Mediterranean Fleet moved his HQ afloat on board HMS Warspite until April 1940. He was then back onshore at Malta until February 1941. He transferred it again to HMS Warspite until July 1942. In August 1942 headquarters were moved Alexandria from June 1940 to February 1943. HQ was changed again but this time in rotation between Algiers and Taranto until June 1944.[107] It then moved back to Malta until it was abolished in 1967.

In command unit or formation Date/s Notes/Ref
Second-in-Command, Mediterranean Fleet 1861-1939 [112]
Vice-Admiral Commanding, Light Forces and Second-in-Command Mediterranean Fleet 1940-1942 [107]
Vice-Admiral (D) Commanding, Mediterranean Fleet Destroyers 1922 to 1965 [107] [c]
Flag Officer, Air and Second-in-Command, Mediterranean Fleet 1947-1958 [107]
Flag Officer, Mediterranean Aircraft Carriers 1940 to 1943 [113]
Rear-Admiral (D) Commanding, Mediterranean Fleet Destroyers 1922 to 1965 [107][d]
Rear-Admiral, Mediterranean Fleet 1903 to 1905 [114]
Commodore (D) Commanding, Mediterranean Fleet Destroyers 1922 to 1965 [107] [e]

Major operational and shore sub-commands

Note: At various times included the following.

In command of unit or formation Date/s Notes and Ref
Admiral Superintendent Malta 1832 to 1934 [107]
Commodore, Adriatic Patrols 1915 to 1918 [115]
Commodore-in-Charge, Algiers December 1942 to February 1943 [107][f]
Commodore, Smyrna 1919-1920 [116]
Commodore Commanding, British Adriatic Force 1917 to 1919
Commodore Commanding, Red Sea Division 1884 to 1885
Flag Officer Commanding Force H 1940 to 1941 [107]
Flag Officer Commanding, Red Sea and Canal Area May 1942 to February 1943
Flag Officer, Gibraltar 1902 to 1939, 1946 to 1967 [107]
Flag Officer, Gibraltar and North Atlantic May to November 1939 [107][g]
Flag Officer, Gibraltar and Mediterranean Approaches 1943 to 1946 [107]
Flag Officer, Levant and East Mediterranean 1944 to 1946 [107]
Flag Officer, Malta 1934 to 1943, 1946 to 1963 [107]
Flag Officer, Malta and Central Mediterranean 1943 to 1946
Flag Officer, Red Sea October 1941 to May 1942 [h]
Flag Officer, Western Mediterranean July 1944 to May 1945
Rear-Admiral, Alexandria 1939 to 1944 [107][i]
Rear-Admiral, Egypt and Red Sea 1917 to 1920
Rear-Admiral, Training Establishment Mediterranean May to August 1942 [107]
Rear-Admiral Commanding 1st Cruiser Squadron 1914 to 1915, 1924 to 1939, 1947 to 1955 [107]
Rear-Admiral Commanding 2nd Cruiser Squadron 1946 to 1947
Rear-Admiral Commanding, 3rd Cruiser Squadron 1939 to 1941 [107]
Rear-Admiral Commanding, 6th Cruiser Squadron 1910 to 1912
Rear-Admiral Commanding, 12th Cruiser Squadron 1942 to 1943
Rear-Admiral Commanding, 15th Cruiser Squadron 1942 to 1944 [107]
Rear-Admiral Commanding, Black Sea, Caspian Sea and Sea of Marmora 1918 to 1919 [117]
Rear-Admiral Commanding, British Adriatic Squadron 1915 to 1917 [j][118]
Rear-Admiral Commanding, British Aegean Squadron 1917 to 1918
Rear-Admiral Commanding, Mediterranean Cruiser Squadron 1912
Rear-Admiral, Second-in-Command, Eastern Mediterranean Squadron 1915 to 1918 [k]
Senior British Naval Officer, Suez Canal Area 1939 to 1942 [107]
Senior Naval Officer-in-Charge, Suez 1941 to 1942 [119]
Senior Naval Officer, Mudros 1915 to 1918 [120]
Vice-Admiral Commanding 1st Battle Squadron 1939 to 1941 [107]
Vice-Admiral Commanding, 2nd Aircraft Carrier Squadron 1947 to 1951
Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battlecruiser Squadron 1947 to 1951
Vice-Admiral Commanding, Eastern Mediterranean Squadron 1937 to 1939
Vice-Admiral-in-Charge, Malta 1937 to 1941 [107]

Parts of the Admiral of Patrols' Auxiliary Patrol during World War One were within the Mediterranean. Several patrol zones were under British authority.

Major support sub-commands

Note: At various times included the following.

In command of unit or formation Date/s Notes and Ref
Principal Naval Transport Officer, Mudros 31 August, 1915 – 20 January, 1916 Commodore-in-Command[121]
Principal Naval Transport Officer, Salonika 20 January, 1916 – June, 1916 Commodore-in-Command[122]

Included:[l]

Location In Command Dates Notes/Ref
Aden Naval Officer-in-Charge, Aden 1935 to 1938 [107]
Alexandria Naval Officer-in-Charge, Cyprian Ports 1941 to 1943 [107]
Bone Naval Officer-in-Charge, Bone January to February 1943 [107]
Bougie Naval Officer-in-Charge, Bougie January to February 1943 [107]
Brindisi British Senior Naval Officer, Brindisi 1916 to 1918 [123]
Genoa Senior Naval Officer, Genoa 1919
Gibraltar Senior Officer, Gibraltar 1889 to 1902 [124]
Haifa Naval Officer in Charge, Haifa 1935 to 1939 [107]
Haifa Naval Officer-in-Charge, Palestinian Ports 1940 to 1943 [107]
Mersa Matruh Naval Officer-in-Charge, Mersa Matruh 1941 to 1943 [107]
Mudros Captain of Base, Mudros 1918 to 1920 [125]
Phillippeville Naval Officer-in-Charge, Phillippeville January to February 1943 [107]
Port Said Naval Officer-in-Charge, Port Said December, 1916 to February 1943 [107]
Salonika Divisional Naval Transport Officer, Salonika 26 January, 1917 to 16 April, 1919
Taranto Senior Naval Officer, Taranto December, 1918 to March 1919 [126]
Trieste Naval Transport Officer in Charge, Trieste January 1916 to December 1918 [127]

Notes

  1. ^ The Chief of Staff was the principal staff officer (PSO), who is the coordinator of the supporting staff or a primary aide-de-camp to the Commander-in-Chief.
  2. ^ The Additional Chief of Staff was the staff officer responsible for providing administrative support to the principle staff officer (PSO).
  3. ^ Command of the Mediterranean Fleets destroyer flotillas rotated between flag officers different ranks such as Vice-Admiral (D)
  4. ^ Command of the Mediterranean Fleets destroyer flotillas rotated between flag officers different ranks such as Rear-Admiral (D)
  5. ^ Command of the Mediterranean Fleets destroyer flotillas rotated between flag officers different ranks such as Commodore (D)
  6. ^ Commodore, Algeria reported to the C-in-C, Med Fleet from December 1942 to February 1943 the officer then reports to C-in-C, Levant until December 1943
  7. ^ The Flag Officer, Gibraltar and North Atlantic was elevated to the rank of Admiral from November 1939 until 1943 and did not report to the C-in-C, Med Fleet during this period
  8. ^ The Senior Officer, Red Sea Force was established in 1939 who reported to the Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station. On 21st October 1941 the title is changed to the Flag Officer Commanding, Red Sea and his command but now reporting to the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet until 17 May 1942. On 18 May 1942 the title is changed again to Flag Officer, Commanding Red Sea and Canal Area and his reporting line changed again to the Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet.
  9. ^ Rear-Admiral, Alexandria reported to the C-in-C, Med Fleet from November 1939 to February 1943 the officer then reports to C-in-C, Levant until December 1943
  10. ^ The British Adriatic Squadron was later renamed British Adriatic Force
  11. ^ Rear-Admiral, Second-in-Command, Eastern Mediterranean Squadron reporting to VAdm, Commanding Eastern Mediterranean Squadron.
  12. ^ In February 1943 all existing shore based commands were transferred under the Commander-in-Chief, Levant until January 1944 they then came back under the control of the C-in-C Med Fleet.

References

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  14. ^ a b c Grove, Eric J. (1987). Vanguard to Trident: British Naval Policy since World War II. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0870215520.
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  16. ^ a b Maloney, Sean (1991). To Secure Command of the Sea (Thesis). University of New Brunswick. pp. 258–261.
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Further reading

  • S.W.C. Pack Sea Power in the Mediterranean – has a complete list of fleet commanders
  • Halpern, Paul, ed. (2011). The Mediterranean Fleet, 1919–1929. Publications of the Navy Records Society. 158. Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate for the Navy Records Society. ISBN 978-1-409427-56-8.
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.

Black Sea and Caspian Squadron

The Black Sea and Caspian Squadron also known as the Black Sea and Marmora Force and the Black Sea and Marmora Division was naval formation of the British Mediterranean Fleet from 1918 to 1919.

C and D-class destroyer

The C and D class was a group of 14 destroyers built for the Royal Navy in the early 1930s. As in previous years, it was originally intended to order a complete flotilla comprising eight destroyers—plus a flotilla leader as the ninth unit—in each year. However, only four ships—plus a leader—were ordered under the 1929–30 Programme as the C class. The other four ships planned for the C class were never ordered as an economy measure and disarmament gesture by the Labour government of Ramsay MacDonald. A complete flotilla—the 'D' class—was ordered under the 1930–31 Programme.

The five ships of the C class were assigned to Home Fleet upon their completion, 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. They were transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in 1937–39 and spent most of their time during World War II on convoy escort duties in the Atlantic Ocean. Crescent was sunk when she was accidentally rammed by the British cruiser HMS Calcutta in 1940. Crusader was sunk by a German submarine in 1942, though she had sunk an Italian submarine in 1940. The other ships of the class sank three German submarines during the war. They were all worn out by the end of the war and were scrapped in 1946–47.

The D-class destroyers were initially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet upon commissioning, but were transferred to the China Station in 1935. Like the C class, most were temporarily deployed in the Red Sea when the Italians invaded Abyssinia, but returned to the China Station when that was over. They were still there when the war began, but reinforced the Mediterranean Fleet shortly afterwards. Five ships were transferred to Home Fleet in December 1939, but Duchess was sunk en route when she was accidentally rammed by the battleship HMS Barham, and Duncan was badly damaged when she collided with a merchant ship, requiring lengthy repairs. Daring was sunk by a German submarine in February 1940. The other two participated in the Norwegian Campaign of April–June, but Delight was sunk by German aircraft in July and Diana was transferred to the RCN as a replacement for the Crescent after she was sunk by the cruiser Calcutta. However, she too was rammed and sunk several months later by a freighter that she was escorting.

The four ships that remained with the Mediterranean Fleet sank three Italian submarines in 1940 while escorting Malta convoys and larger warships of the fleet. Several participated in the Battles of Calabria and Cape Spartivento that year. Duncan joined Force H at Gibraltar in October and escorted that group. Dainty was sunk by German bombers in February 1941 and Diamond in April while evacuating Allied personnel from Greece. Defender had to be scuttled in July when she was crippled by a German bomber when returning from escorting a convoy to Tobruk. Duncan and Decoy remained on escort duties for the rest of the year before being transferred to the Eastern Fleet in early 1942. They returned to the UK late in the year to begin conversions to escort destroyers. Decoy was transferred to the RCN in early 1943, but both became convoy escorts in the Atlantic. They sank two German submarines before being assigned to the UK to protect Allied shipping during Operation Overlord. They sank three more submarines before the end of the war and were paid off in 1945. Duncan was scrapped 1945–49 and Decoy during 1946.

Chief of Staff Mediterranean Fleet

The Chief of Staff, Mediterranean Fleet also formally known as Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet and originally called Flag Captain, Mediterranean Fleet. was a senior British Royal Navy appointment. He was the commander-in-chiefs primary aide-de-camp providing administrative support from October 1893 to 1967.

Commander-in-Chief, Levant

The Commander-in-Chief, Levant was a senior administrative shore commander of the Royal Navy whose post was established in February 1943. The British Chiefs of Staff Committee ordered at that time that the Mediterranean Fleet was to be divided into two commands; one responsible for naval operations involving ships, and the other administrative and support, responsible for shore establishments. His subordinate establishments, and staff were sometimes informally known as the Levant Command or Levant Station, In December 1943 the title was changed to Flag Officer, Levant and East Mediterranean. In January 1944 the two separate commands were re-unified into a single command with FOLEM merging back into Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet.In August 1946 the appointment name was changed to Senior British Naval Officer and Flag Officer Liaison, Middle East. In 1958 the East Indies Station was abolished, and its remaining units were transferred to MEC at Aden. In 1959 the former east indies Persian Gulf and Red Sea divisions were renamed the Arabian Seas and Persian Gulf Station until 1962 when the commands name was changed back to its previous name. In October 1967, MEC in Aden was abolished, and the remaining naval forces 'East of Suez' were transferred to the Far East Fleet.

Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean (France)

The French Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, also known as CECMED (French for Commandant en chef pour la Méditerranée) is a French Armed Forces regional commander. He commands the zone, the region and the Mediterranean maritime arrondissements. He is usually an admiral of the French Navy, and is under the direct authority of the French Chief of the Defence Staff. As of 2015 the position was held by Admiral Yann Tainguy.

CECMED today is simultaneously:

Commander of the région and the Mediterranean maritime arrondissement,

Maritime Zone commander,

Maritime Prefect for the Méditerranean.Today the main French naval combat force in the Mediterranean is the Force d'action navale (FAN) headquartered at Toulon. The Admiral commanding the Naval Action Force (ALFAN) is responsible to the Chief of Staff of the French Navy at the rue Royale in Paris.

Flag Officer, Air and Second-in-Command, Mediterranean Fleet

The Flag Officer, Air and Second-in-Command, Mediterranean Fleet was a senior command appointment of the British Royal Navy from January 1947 to 1958 who also administered the 2nd Aircraft Carrier Squadron from 1947-1951. The appointment was a continuation of the Second-in-Command, Mediterranean Station first established in 1861 that underwent a series of name changes due to an expansion of additional duties given to the post holder.

French expedition to Sardinia

The French expedition to Sardinia was a short military campaign fought in 1793 in the Mediterranean Sea in the first year of the War of the First Coalition, during the French Revolutionary Wars. The operation was the first offensive by the new French Republic in the Mediterranean during the conflict, and was directed at the island of Sardinia, part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. Sardinia was neutral at the time, but immediately joined the anti-French coalition. The operation was a total failure, with attacks directed at Cagliari in the south and La Maddalena in the north both ending in defeat.

The operation was launched by the French Mediterranean Fleet, led by Contre-amiral Laurent Truguet, under instructions from the National Convention. The government had issued orders to invade Sardinia, strategically important to the Mediterranean, which they believed would bring an easy victory. Delays in assembling the invasion force gave the Sardinians sufficient time to raise an army, and when the French fleet arrived off the capital Cagliari, the Sardinians were ready. The first attack was dispersed by a gale, but the second went ahead on 22 January 1793. French troops subsequently landed on 11 February but were driven off in fighting at Quartu Sant'Elena.

A subsequent attack on the island of La Maddalena off the northern coast of Sardinia also failed, partly due to deliberate sabotage by Corsican troops; it is most notable as the first military service of the Lieutenant Colonel Napoleon Bonaparte, later Emperor of France. On 25 May a Spanish fleet recaptured the small islands of San Pietro and Sant'Antioco, the last of the French garrisons on Sardinia. The legacies of the campaign included a series of popular revolts in Sardinia against the Savoyard rulers, a temporary breakaway of Corsica from France, and a rebellion at the French naval base of Toulon leading to the capture and near destruction of the entire French Mediterranean Fleet by a British Royal Navy fleet.

HMS Duchess (H64)

HMS Duchess was a D-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the early 1930s. The ship was initially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet before she was transferred to the China Station in early 1935. She was temporarily deployed in the Red Sea during late 1935 during the Abyssinia Crisis, before returning to her duty station where she remained until mid-1939. Duchess was transferred back to the Mediterranean Fleet just before the Second World War began in September 1939. Whilst escorting the battleship HMS Barham back to the British Isles, she was accidentally rammed by the battleship in thick fog and sank with heavy loss of life on 12 December 1939.

HMS Greyhound (H05)

HMS Greyhound was a G-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the 1930s. Greyhound participated in the Norwegian Campaign in April 1940, the Dunkirk evacuation in May and the Battle of Dakar in September before being transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in November. The ship generally escorted the larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet as they protected convoys against attacks from the Italian Fleet. She sank two Italian submarines while escorting convoys herself in early 1941. Greyhound was sunk by German Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers north-west of Crete on 22 May 1941 as she escorted the battleships of the Mediterranean Fleet attempting to intercept the German sea-borne invasion forces destined for Crete.

HMS Griffin (H31)

HMS Griffin (H31) was a G-class destroyer, built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1930s. In World War II she took part in the Norwegian Campaign of April–May 1940 and the Battle of Dakar in September before being transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in November. She generally escorted larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet as they protected convoys against attacks from the Italian Fleet. Griffin took part in the Battle of Cape Matapan in March 1941 and the evacuations of Greece and Crete in April–May 1941. In June she took part in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign and was escorting convoys and the larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet until she was transferred to the Eastern Fleet in March 1942.

Griffin saw no action in the Japanese Indian Ocean raid in April, but was escorting convoys for most of her time in the Indian Ocean. In June she returned to the Mediterranean to escort another convoy to Malta in Operation Vigorous. Beginning in November 1942, she was converted to an escort destroyer in the United Kingdom and was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy on 1 March 1943. The ship, now renamed HMCS Ottawa, was assigned to escort convoys in the North Atlantic until she was transferred in May 1944 to protect the forces involved with the Normandy Landings. Working with other destroyers, Ottawa sank three German submarines off the French coast before she returned to Canada for a lengthy refit. After the end of the European war in May 1945 she was used to bring Canadian troops until she was paid off in October 1945. Ottawa was sold for scrap in August 1946.

HMS Hasty (H24)

HMS Hasty was an H-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during the mid-1930s. She was assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet until the beginning of World War II. The ship transferred to Freetown, Sierra Leone, in October 1939 to hunt for German commerce raiders in the South Atlantic with Force K. Hasty returned to the British Isles in early 1940 and covered the evacuation of Allied troops from Namsos in early May 1940 during the Norwegian Campaign. She was transferred back to the Mediterranean Fleet shortly afterwards and participated in the Battle of Calabria and the Battle of Cape Spada in July 1940. The ship took part in the Battle of Cape Matapan in March and evacuated British and Australian troops from both Greece and Crete in April and May. In June, Hasty participated in the Syria-Lebanon Campaign and was escorting convoys and the larger ships of the Mediterranean Fleet for the next year. During the Second Battle of Sirte in March 1942 she defended a convoy from an Italian battleship and several cruisers. While covering another convoy from Alexandria to Malta in June 1942 during Operation Vigorous, Hasty was torpedoed by a German motor torpedo boat and was so badly damaged that she had to be scuttled.

HMS Hyperion (H97)

HMS Hyperion was an H-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during the mid-1930s. During the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939 the ship enforced the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides as part of the Mediterranean Fleet. During the first few months of World War II, Hyperion searched for German commerce raiders in the Atlantic Ocean and blockaded German merchant ships in neutral harbours until she returned to the British Isles in early 1940. The ship participated in the Norwegian Campaign before she was transferred back to the Mediterranean Fleet shortly afterwards. Hyperion participated in the Battle of Calabria and the Battle of Cape Spada in July 1940 while escorting the larger ships of the fleet. The ship covered several convoys to Malta before she struck a mine and was deliberately scuttled in December 1940.

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.

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.

Robert Man

Admiral Robert Man (died 1783) was a Royal Navy officer. He commanded the third-rate HMS Lancaster at the Siege of Louisbourg in June 1758 during the French and Indian War. He went on to become commander-in-chief of the Leeward Islands Station, then Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet and finally First Naval Lord.

Senior British Naval Officer, Suez Canal Area

The Senior British Naval Officer, Suez Canal Area was an administrative shore based command appointment of the Royal Navy established during World war II who was responsible superintending the naval base HMS Stag at Ismailia, Egypt it was a sub-command of the East Indies Station from 1939 to 1941 then the Mediterranean Fleet until 1942.

Sir William Parker, 1st Baronet, of Shenstone

Admiral of the Fleet Sir William Parker, 1st Baronet, GCB (1 December 1781 – 13 November 1866), was a Royal Navy officer. As a captain's servant he took part in the Battle of The Glorious First of June in June 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars and, as a captain, he participated in the capture of the French ships Marengo and Belle Poule at the Action of 13 March 1806 during the Napoleonic Wars. He was detached on an independent command on the Tagus in September 1831 with a mission to protect British interests during the Portuguese Civil War. As Commander-in-chief of the East Indies and China Station, he provided naval support at various actions between 1841 and 1842 during the First Opium War. Appointed Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet in February 1845, he was briefly (for a week) First Naval Lord in the First Russell ministry from 13 July 1846 to 24 July 1846 but gave up the role due to ill health before returning to his command with the Mediterranean Fleet.

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Languages

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