North America and West Indies Station

The North America and West Indies Station was a formation or command of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy stationed in North American waters from 1745 to 1956. The North American Station was separate from the Jamaica Station until 1830 when the two combined to form the North America and West Indies Station. It was briefly abolished in 1907 before being restored in 1915. It was renamed the America and West Indies Station in 1926. It was commanded by the Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station and subsequently by the Commander-in-Chief, America and West Indies Station.

North America and West Indies Station
John Christian Schetky, Boarding the Chesapeake (19th century)
The capture of USS Chesapeake on 1 June 1813 as depicted by John Christian Schetky
ActiveNorth American Station (1745–1818)
North America and West Indies Station (1818–1926)
America and West Indies Station (1926–1956)
West Indies (1956–1976)
HMS Malabar (1976–1995)
Disbanded1 April 1976
CountryUnited Kingdom, Bermuda, and Canada
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
TypeRegional command
Part ofRoyal Navy
Garrison/HQRoyal Naval Dockyard, Halifax 1745–1905 &
Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda 1795–1951
Notable shipsFame, Invincible, Leopard, Resolute
EngagementsBattle of the Chesapeake, Battle of Cape Henry, Siege of Yorktown, Battle of St. Kitts (American Revolutionary War)
USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere, Capture of HMS Frolic, Capture of USS Chesapeake, Capture of HMS Boxer, Burning of Washington (Chesapeake Campaign), Battle of Baltimore (Chesapeake Campaign) (War of 1812),
pursuit of SM U-53 (1916),
Battle of the Atlantic

History

Admiralty House Bermuda at Mount Wyndham 1818
Admiralty House, Bermuda, at Mount Wyndham (the location from 1810 to 1816)

The squadron was formed in 1745 to counter French forces in North America, with the headquarters at the Halifax Naval Yard in Nova Scotia (now CFB Halifax).[1]

The area of command had first been designated as the North American Station in 1767, under the command of Commodore Samuel Hood, with the headquarters in Halifax from 1758 to 1794, and thereafter in Halifax and Bermuda. Land and buildings for a permanent Naval Yard were purchased by the Royal Navy in 1758 and the Yard was officially commissioned in 1759. The Yard served as the main base for the Royal Navy in North America during the Seven Years' War, the American Revolution, and the French Revolutionary Wars.[2]

Following American independence in 1783, Bermuda was the only British territory left between Nova Scotia and the West Indies (by agreement with the Spanish government, a Royal Navy base was maintained in Florida until this was ceded to the United States), and was selected as the new headquarters for the region. The establishment of a base there was delayed for a dozen years, however, due to the need to survey the encircling barrier reef to locate channels suitable for large warships. Once this had been completed, a base was established at St. George's in 1794, with the fleet anchoring at Murray's Anchorage in the northern lagoon, named for Vice Admiral Sir George Murray, who became the Commander-in-Chief of the new River St. Lawrence and Coast of America and North America and West Indies Station. The Admiralty also began purchasing land at Bermuda's West End, including Ireland Island, Spanish Point, and smaller islands in the Great Sound with the intent of building the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda, and a permanent naval base there, with its anchorage on Grassy Bay. The construction of this base was to drag on through much of the Nineteenth Century.[3]

Admiral Sir John Borlase Warren was appointed Commander-in-Chief in 1812, and he and his staff seem to have spent most of their time at Bermuda during the War of 1812 (he was replaced by Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Inglis Cochrane in 1813), from where the blockade of much of the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States was orchestrated, and the punitive expedition which included the Raid on Alexandria, the Battle of Bladensburg, and the Burning of Washington was launched in August, 1814.[4]

In 1813, the area of command had become the North America Station again, with the West Indies falling under the Jamaica Station, and in 1816 it was renamed the North America and Lakes of Canada Station. The headquarters was initially in Bermuda during the winter and Halifax during the summer, but Admiralty House, Bermuda, became the year-round headquarters of the Station in 1821, when the area of command became the North America and Newfoundland Station. In 1818 Halifax became the summer base for the squadron which shifted to the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda, for the remainder of the year.[5]

Admiralty House Halifax
Admiralty House, Halifax, summer headquarters of the Admiral in command of the station

In 1819, the main base of the Station was moved from Halifax to Bermuda, which was better positioned to counter threats from the United States.[2][6][5][7][8] Halifax continued to be used as the summer base for the station until 1907.[9]

At around the same time that the main base was moved the area of command was redesignated as the North America and West Indies Station, and remained so until 1907, when the North America and West Indies Station was abolished and replaced by the 4th Cruiser Squadron. These were based in England and Bermuda was redesignated from a base to a coaling station, although the dockyard remained in operation. The Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station, remained in Bermuda. The Royal Navy withdrew from Halifax in 1905, and the Halifax Naval Yard was handed over to the Royal Canadian Navy in 1910.[10][11]

The North America and West Indies Station was restored in 1915, and incorporated the 8th Cruiser Squadron from 1924–25. In 1942 the title of C-in-C America and West Indies was re-styled Senior British Naval Officer, Western Atlantic.[12][13][14] In 1945 the America and West Indies title was restored.[8]

In 1951, the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda, was closed, with the Admiralty Floating Dock No. 5 towed to Britain by HM Tugs Warden and Reward, departing on 11 July. The position of Senior Naval Officer West Indies (SNOWI) was established as a Sub-Area Commander under the Commander-in-Chief of the America and West Indies station. The occupant of this position was a commodore, and was provided with a shore office on Ireland Island (which was beside the Victualling Yard until 1962), but was required to spend much of his time at sea in the West Indies. A flagship (between 1951 and April, 1956, this was successively HMS Sheffield, HMS Superb, HMS Sheffield, HMS Kenya) and other vessels of the America and West Indies Squadron continued to be based at the South Yard of the former Royal Naval Dockyard, where the Royal Navy maintained a Berthing Area under the command of a Resident Naval Officer (RNO), but were detached from the Home Fleet, and their refits and repairs were thenceforth to be carried out in Britain.[15][16][17] The RNO had his own office in one of the houses of Dockyard Terrace. Admiralty land not required for the continued naval operations was sold to the colonial government.[8] There was also an RNO in Nassau.[18]

Bermuda Regiment pass HMD Bermuda
Grassy Bay, the anchorage for the fleet in Bermuda between 1816 and 1956, with the Royal Naval Dockyard in the background

In 1952, the Commander-in-Chief, Vice Admiral Sir William Andrewes, became the initial Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic.[19]

Disestablishment and successor, SNOWI

On 29 October 1956, the position of Commander-in-Chief of the America and West Indies Station was abolished, leaving the Commodore West Indies as the Senior Royal Navy officer in the region, reporting directly to the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, in England. SNOWI also served as Island Commander Bermuda (ISCOMBERMUDA) in the NATO chain of command, reporting to Commander-in-Chief, Western Atlantic Area, as part of SACLANT.[18] The ships of the command were reduced to two Station Frigates.[8]

All remaining Admiralty land, including, Admiralty House at Clarence Hill and Ireland Island, along with and War Department lands, were sold to the colonial government between 1957 and 1965. That part of the dockyard still required for naval operations remained under Admiralty control under a ninety-nine year lease, and the South Yard Berthing Area was commissioned on 1 June 1965, as HMS Malabar, under the command of the RNO, with the headquarters of SNOWI and the RNO in Moresby House (originally built in the 1899s as the residence of the civilian Officer in Charge, Works).[2] In December, 1967, the position of RNO Bermuda was abolished, with its duties passing to SNOWI's secretary and SNOWI taking over command of HMS Malabar. As SNOWI was frequently in the West Indies, he was unable to effectively command HMS Malabar and a Lieutenant-Commander was consequently appointed to the roles of Commanding Officer of HMS Malabar and RNO in 1971.[18]

The former Royal Naval wireless station land at Daniels Head was leased to the Royal Canadian Navy on 1 January 1963, for the purpose of a new radio station. It became CFS Daniel's Head when the Royal Canadian Navy became part of the Canadian Forces in 1969.[20]

While Bermuda had been the ideal base of operations for the North America and West Indies Station, at a thousand miles north of the Virgin Islands, it was far too distant to serve as an effective headquarters for only the West Indies. This meant that both SNOWI and the Station Frigates spent little time in or near Bermuda. On 1 April 1976, the post of SNOWI was abolished, and the Station Frigates were withdrawn. The RNO and his staff remained, and a frigate was appointed West Indies Guardship, but seldom visited Bermuda. HMS Malabar ceased to be a base and was rated only as a supply station.[2]

By 1995, when Malabar was handed over to the Government of Bermuda,[21][22][23] the Royal Naval presence in the North-Western Atlantic and Caribbean had been reduced to the West Indies Guard Ship (now called Atlantic Patrol Task (North)), a role which was rotated among the frigates of the fleet, which took turns operating extended patrols of the West Indies.[24]

For ships stationed in Canada and North America, go to List of Royal Navy ships in North America.

Sub commands

Admiralty House Bermuda at Mount Wyndham 1818
Admiralty House, Bermuda, at Mount Wyndham (the location from 1810 to 1816)
Officers on the bridge
On lookout for U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic, October 1941

Commanders in Chief

Commanders of the station have included:[25][26][27][28][29]

Commander-in-Chief, North American Station

Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station

Vacant (1907–13)

Commander-in-Chief, America and West Indies Station

Senior British Naval Officer, Western Atlantic

After the end of the Second World War the former name of the station was restored.[31]

Commander-in-Chief, America and West Indies Station

See also

References

  1. ^ "Royal Naval Dockyards". Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "Bermuda's Royal Navy base at Ireland Island from 1815 to the 1960s". Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Bermuda's History from 1800 to 1899". Bermuda on line. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  4. ^ Morriss 1997, p. 98
  5. ^ a b Marilyn Gurney, The Kings Yard, Maritime Command Museum, Halifax.
  6. ^ Gwyn, Julian, Frigates and Foremasts: The North American Squadron in Nova Scotia Waters, 1745–1815 Vancouver, BC: UBC Press (2004) ISBN 978-0-7748-0911-5. OCLC 144078613
  7. ^ Canada's Historic Places: Halifax Dockyard National Historic Site of Canada
  8. ^ a b c d The Andrew and The Onions: The Story of The Royal Navy in Bermuda, 1795–1975, by Lieutenant-Commander B. Ian D. Stranack. Bermuda Maritime Museum Press
  9. ^ "Wardroom Officers' Mess". CFB Halifax. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  10. ^ "NAVAL ESTABLISHMENTS BILL". millbanksystems.com. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  11. ^ "NAVY ESTIMATES, 1905–6". millbanksystems.com. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  12. ^ Admiralty, Great Britain (August 1942). The Navy List. London, England: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 1337.
  13. ^ Admiralty, Great Britain (October 1944). The Navy List. London, England: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 2260.
  14. ^ Admiralty, Great Britain (July 1945). The Navy List. London, England: H.M. Stationery Office. p. 2349.
  15. ^ "Bermuda Dockyard". millbanksystems.com. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  16. ^ "Dockyard, Bermuda (Closing)". millbanksystems.com. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  17. ^ "Bermuda Dockyard". millbanksystems.com. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  18. ^ a b c "DEFE 5/188/4". ibiblio.org. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  19. ^ Sean M. Maloney, 'To Secure Command of the Sea: NATO Command Organization and Naval Planning for the Cold War at Sea, 1945–54,' MA thesis, University of New Brunswick, 1991, p.198 and Chapter 4 generally
  20. ^ "Bermuda WT". rnmuseumradarandcommunications2006.org.uk. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  21. ^ "Defence Budget". millbanksystems.com. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  22. ^ "HMS Malabar". millbanksystems.com. Retrieved 29 August 2015.
  23. ^ Hansard: House of Commons debate on The Dependent Territories. 9 February 1994
  24. ^ "West Indies Guard Ship". Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  25. ^ Stout, Neil R. The Royal Navy in America, 1760-1775: A Study of Enforcement of British Colonial Policy in the Era of the American Revolution. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1973, p.199 via Gaspee Virtual Archives: Research Notes on Admiral John Montagu
  26. ^ Commanders-in-Chief, North America, 1830-99
  27. ^ Commanders-in-Chief 1904 – 1975
  28. ^ Bermuda's Royal Navy base at Ireland Island from 1815 to the 1960s
  29. ^ Senior Royal Navy appointments Archived March 15, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36822). London. 17 July 1902. p. 9.
  31. ^ Harris, Dr Edward (3 December 2011). "HERITAGE MATTERS The Royal Gazette:Bermuda Island09". The Royal Gazette. Bermuda: The Bermuda Press. Retrieved 10 October 2018.

Sources

External links

Algernon Lyons

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Algernon McLennan Lyons (30 August 1833 – 9 February 1908) was a senior Royal Navy officer who served as First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to Queen Victoria.

Lyons also served as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Station, Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station and then Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth.

He was the nephew of the eminent Admiral Edmund Lyons, 1st Baron Lyons, who served as Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, under whom he served for a time, and the cousin of Richard Lyons, 1st Viscount Lyons and Richard Lyons Pearson, Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Francis Austen

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Francis William Austen, (23 April 1774 – 10 August 1865) was a Royal Navy officer. As commanding officer of the sloop HMS Peterel, he captured some 40 ships, was present at the capture of a French squadron, and led an operation when the French brig Ligurienne was captured and two others were driven ashore off Marseille during the French Revolutionary Wars.

On the outbreak of Napoleonic Wars Austen was appointed to raise and organise a corps of Sea Fencibles at Ramsgate to defend a strip of the Kentish coast. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Canopus, in which he took part in the pursuit of the French Fleet to the West Indies and back and then fought at the Battle of San Domingo, leading the lee line of ships into the battle. He later commanded the third-rate HMS St Albans and observed the Battle of Vimeiro from the deck of his ship before embarking British troops retreating after the Battle of Corunna. He went on to be commanding officer of the third-rate HMS Elephant and captured the United States privateer Swordfish during the War of 1812.

As a senior officer Austen served as Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station.

George Watson (Royal Navy officer)

Admiral Sir George Willes Watson, (5 April 1827 – 26 April 1897) was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station.

George Wellesley

Admiral Sir George Greville Wellesley (2 August 1814 – 6 April 1901) was a Royal Navy officer. As a junior officer he took part in the capture of Acre during the Oriental Crisis in 1840 and, as Captain of HMS Cornwallis in the Baltic Fleet, he took part in the Bombardment of Sveaborg in August 1855 during the Crimean War. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief of the North America and West Indies Station and then Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Squadron but was relieved of the latter post by a court-martial after an incident in which an armoured frigate, which had been under his command at the time, ran aground at Pearl Rock off Gibraltar in July 1871. He was appointed First Naval Lord in November 1877 and in that capacity he secured a considerable increase in naval construction, for example on the Colossus-class battleships, although some of these ships were of doubtful quality.

HMS Crescent (1892)

HMS Crescent was a first class cruiser of the Edgar class. Crescent, and her sister ship Royal Arthur, were built to a slightly modified design and are sometimes considered a separate class. She was launched in 1892, saw early service at the Australia Station and the North America and West Indies Station, served in the First World War, and was sold for breaking up in 1921.

HMS Donegal (1902)

HMS Donegal was one of 10 Monmouth-class armoured cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the first decade of the 20th century. She was initially assigned to the 1st Cruiser Squadron upon completion in 1903 and ran aground en route to the China Station in 1906. She was briefly placed in reserve after repairs before she was assigned to the Home Fleet in 1907. She joined the 4th Cruiser Squadron on the North America and West Indies Station in 1909 before returning home for an assignment with the Training Squadron in 1912. Donegal was reduced to reserve before World War I began in August 1914 as part of the Third Fleet

Refitting at the beginning of the war, she was then assigned to Sierra Leone for convoy protection duties as part of the 5th Cruiser Squadron. She was transferred to several different cruiser squadrons of the Grand Fleet in 1915 where she escorted convoys to Archangelsk, Russia. In mid-1916 she was assigned to convoy escort duties in the Atlantic. Donegal rejoined the 4th Cruiser Squadron on North America and West Indies Station in 1917 and continued with convoy duties until the end of the war. Donegal was sold for scrap in 1920.

HMS Galatea (1859)

HMS Galatea was an Ariadne class 26-gun, sixth-rate, wooden screw frigate in the Royal Navy, launched in 1859 and broken up 1883. She was first assigned to the Channel Squadron and then from 1863 to 1865 to the North America and West Indies Station based in Bermuda and Halifax. While in Halifax, Galatea inspired a trio of dramatic paintings by ship portrait artist John O'Brien. In 1866, after a refit, she went on a world cruise, under the command of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.

While in Sydney, Galatea was placed in the Fitzroy Dock at Cockatoo Island Dockyard in 1870.

HMS Mullett (1860)

HMS Mullett (or Mullet) was a Royal Navy 5-gun Philomel-class wooden screw gunvessel launched in 1860. She served on the coast of West Africa and on the North America and West Indies Station before being sold in 1872 at Hong Kong for mercantile use. As the sailing ship Formosa she sailed in the Far East before being converted to a magazine in Melbourne.

HMS Nile (1839)

HMS Nile was a two-deck 90-gun second-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 28 June 1839 at Plymouth Dockyard. She was named to commemorate the Battle of the Nile in 1798. After service in the Baltic Sea and the North America and West Indies Station, she was converted to a training ship and renamed HMS Conway, surviving in that role until 1953.

HMS Raleigh (1919)

HMS Raleigh was one of five Hawkins-class heavy cruisers built for the Royal Navy during the First World War, although she was not completed until 1921. She was assigned to the North America and West Indies Station when she commissioned. The ship ran aground off Newfoundland in August 1922 with the loss of eleven crewmen. Raleigh was salvaged in place and was destroyed with explosives in 1926, although she remains a diveable wreck.

HMS Royal Arthur (1891)

HMS Royal Arthur was a first class cruiser of the Edgar class, previously named Centaur, but renamed in 1890 prior to launching. She served on the Australia Station and briefly on the North America and West Indies Station before returning to the Home Fleet in 1906. She was paid off after the First World War.

Jamaica Division (North America and West Indies Station)

The Jamaica Division of the North America and West Indies Station was a sub-command of the British Royal Navy's North America and West Indies Station head-quartered at Port Royal dockyard in Jamaica from 1838 to 1905.

James Erskine (Royal Navy officer)

Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Elphinstone Erskine (2 December 1838 – 25 July 1911) was a Royal Navy officer. As a junior officer he served on the North America and West Indies Station. This was a difficult time in relations between the United Kingdom and the United States following the Trent Affair, an international diplomatic incident that occurred during the American Civil War when the United States Navy frigate USS San Jacinto intercepted the British mail packet RMS Trent.

Erskine went on to be Private Secretary to Lord Northbrook, First Lord of the Admiralty and then became Commodore on the Australia Station and in that capacity announced that, in order to provide support for the local people, the south coast of New Guinea would become a British protectorate. He went on to be Junior Naval Lord under the third Gladstone ministry and then Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station.

Richard Meade, 4th Earl of Clanwilliam

Admiral of the Fleet Richard James Meade, 4th Earl of Clanwilliam (3 October 1832 – 4 August 1907), styled Lord Gillford until 1879, was a Royal Navy officer. As a junior officer, he served at the Battle of Escape Creek and at the Battle of Fatshan Creek during the campaign against Chinese pirates. He also took part in the Battle of Canton, where he was severely wounded, during the Second Opium War.

As a senior officer Meade went on to be commander of the Steamship reserve at Portsmouth, commander of the Flying Squadron and Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station. His last appointment was as Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth.

Robert Hornby

Admiral Robert Stewart Phipps Hornby, CMG (9 July 1866 – 13 August 1956) was a Royal Navy officer who briefly served as Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station in 1915.

Rodney Mundy

Admiral of the Fleet Sir (George) Rodney Mundy, (19 April 1805 – 23 December 1884) was a Royal Navy officer. As a commander, he persuaded the Dutch to surrender Antwerp during the Belgian Revolution and then acted as a mediator during negotiations between the Dutch and the Belgians to end hostilities. As a captain, he was deployed to the East Indies Station and was asked to keep the Sultan of Brunei in line until the British Government made a final decision on whether to take the island of Labuan: he took the Sultan's son-in-law, Pengiran Mumin, to witness the island's accession to the British Crown in December 1846. He was then deployed to the seas of Finland, where he secured Björkö Sound in operations against Russia during the Crimean War.

Mundy became Second-in-Command of the Mediterranean Fleet and, in May 1860, in the Expedition of the Thousand, he conveyed Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Italian general and politician, and a thousand of his volunteers to Marsala on the West Coast of Sicily. Mundy went on to be Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station and then Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth.

Sir Alexander Milne, 1st Baronet

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alexander Milne, 1st Baronet, (10 November 1806 – 29 December 1896) was a Royal Navy officer. As a captain on the North America and West Indies Station he was employed capturing slave-traders and carrying out fishery protection duties. He served as a Junior Naval Lord under both Liberal and Conservative administrations and was put in charge of organising British and French transports during the Crimean War. He became Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station and in this role he acted with diplomacy, especially in response to the Trent Affair on 8 November 1861 during the American Civil War, when USS San Jacinto, commanded by Union Captain Charles Wilkes, intercepted the British mail packet RMS Trent and removed, as contraband of war, two Confederate diplomats, James Mason and John Slidell. He became First Naval Lord in the third Derby–Disraeli ministry in July 1866 and in this role took advantage of the Government's focus on spending reduction to ask fundamental questions about naval strategy. He again became First Naval Lord in the first Gladstone ministry in November 1872, remaining in office under the second Disraeli ministry and identifying the critical need for trade protection at times of War and demanding new cruisers to protect British merchant shipping.

Sir Charles Ogle

Sir Charles Ogle was a ferry that operated from 1830 until 1894 for the Halifax-Dartmouth Ferry Service. The ferry was the first steamship built in Nova Scotia and the longest serving ferry in Halifax Harbour. The ship is named for Royal Navy officer Sir Charles Ogle, 2nd Baronet, who served as Commander-in-Chief of North America and West Indies Station from 1827 to 1830.

William Lowther Grant

Admiral Sir William Lowther Grant (10 November 1864 – 30 January 1929) was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Commander-in-Chief, North America and West Indies Station.

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