HMS Neptune leading the Home Fleet before the First World War
|Active||1902–1904, 1907–1914, 1932–1967|
|George Callaghan, John Tovey, Bruce Fraser|
The Home Fleet was a fleet of the Royal Navy that operated from 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.[ which? ] In 1905 it was disestablished, and from 1905 to 1907 remaining ships at a lesser state of readiness were split into the reserve divisions (Devonport Division, Nore Division, and Portsmouth Division). 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.
In the first years of the 20th century, the Royal Navy had four 'Port Guard' ships, stationed in the major naval bases, partially to act as flagships for the admirals commanding at those ports.These vessels appear to have been stationed at the Nore, Portsmouth, and Plymouth, as well as one other major base.
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. the nucleus of the Home Fleet would consist of the four Port Guard ships, which would be withdrawn from their various scattered dockyards and turned into a unified and permanent sea-going command – the Home Squadron – based on Portland.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." 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. In May 1903 Noel was succeeded as Commander-in-Chief by Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson."...
On 14 December 1904, the Channel Fleet was re-styled the Atlantic Fleet and the Home Fleet became the Channel Fleet.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. The Home Fleets were the Navy's unified home commands in British waters from 1912 to 1914. 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.
Post holders during the pre-war period were:'
|Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet|
|1||Vice-Admiral||Sir Gerard Noel||1 October 1902 – 21 May 1903|
|2||Vice-Admiral||Sir Arthur Wilson||21 May 1903 – 31 December 1904|
|Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet|
|1||Vice-Admiral||Sir Francis Bridgeman||5 March 1907 – 24 March 1909|
|2||Vice-Admiral||Sir William May||24 March 1909 – 1911|
|3||Vice-Admiral||Sir Francis Bridgeman||25 March 1911 – 5 December 1911|
|4||Vice-Admiral||Sir George Callaghan||5 December 1911 – 31 July 1912|
Post holders included:
|Second-in-Command, Home Fleet|
|1||Rear-Admiral||George L. Atkinson-Willes||October 1902 – May 1903|
|2||Rear-Admiral||Edmund S. Poe||May 1903 – June 1904|
|3||Rear-Admiral||Charles J. Barlow||June – December 1904|
|4||Vice-Admiral||Sir Archibald Berkeley||5 December 1911 – 31 July 1912|
|5||Vice-Admiral||Sir George A. Callaghan||August 1910 – December 1911|
|6||Vice-Admiral||Sir John R. Jellicoe||December 1911 – 31 July 1912|
Post holders included:
|Chief of Staff, Home Fleet|
|1||Rear-Admiral||the Hon. Alexander E. Bethell||January 1908 – March 1909|
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/First Fleet|
|1||Admiral||Sir George Callaghan||31 July 1912 – December 1914|
Post holders included:
|Second-in-Command, Home Fleets|
|1||Vice-Admiral||Sir John R. Jellicoe||31 July – December 1912|
|2||Vice-Admiral||the Hon. Sir Stanley C. J. Colville||June 1912 – June 1914|
|3||Vice-Admiral||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.
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 late 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.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.
Post holders during the inter-war period were:
|Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet|
|1||Admiral||Sir John Kelly||October 1931 – September 1933|
|2||Admiral||Sir William Boyle||September 1933 – August 1935|
|3||Admiral||Sir Roger Backhouse||August 1935 – April 1938|
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.Its chief responsibility was to keep 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. 2nd Battle Squadron under Admiral Blagrove was effectively disestablished when he died in the sinking of Royal Oak.
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.
|Commanders-in-Chief, Home Fleet, 1938–1945|
|1||Admiral||Sir Charles Forbes||April 1938 – December 1940|
|2||Admiral||Sir John Tovey||December 1940 – May 1943|
|3||Admiral||Sir Bruce Fraser||May 1943 – June 1944|
|4||Admiral||Sir Henry Moore||14 June 1944 – 24 November 1945|
Post holder sources for the Second World War:
Post holders included:
|Second-in-Command, Home Fleet|
|1||Vice-Admiral||Sir Alban T. B. Curteis||1941 – June 1942|
|2||Vice-Admiral||Sir Bruce A. Fraser||June 1942 – June 1943|
|3||Vice-Admiral||Sir Henry R. Moore||June 1943 – June 1944|
|4||Vice-Admiral||Sir Frederick H. G. Dalrymple-Hamilton||June 1944 – April 1945|
|5||Vice-Admiral||Sir Rhoderick R. McGrigor||April – July 1945|
|6||Vice-Admiral||Sir Angus E. M. B. Cunninghame Graham||July 1945 – October 1946|
As the Cold War began, greater emphasis was placed on protecting the North Atlantic sea lanes from the Soviet Union in concert with other Western countries. 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.
Admiral Sir Philip Vian, Commander-in-Chief from 1950 to 1952, flew his flag in Vanguard.In late 1951, Theseus joined the fleet as flagship of the 3rd Aircraft Carrier Squadron.
From 1947 to 1957 superfluous battleships and aircraft carriers were assigned to the Training Squadron, Home Fleet headquartered at Portland 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, consisting of the battleship HMS Vanguard, aircraft carriers, and cruisers.Its commanding officer was known as Flag Officer, Aircraft Carriers who had administrative responsibility for all the operational carriers; the squadron was disbanded in October 1954.
After the Second World War, the Royal Navy's geographic commands were gradually merged into fewer but larger formations (1954 to 1971).After 1951 the term flotilla applied to the higher command organisation of squadrons in the Home and Mediterranean Fleets. The squadrons of the Home Fleet were grouped under a Flag Officer, Flotillas, Home Fleet, who became the main seagoing flag officer. A similar arrangement applied to the Flag Officer, Flotillas, Mediterranean Fleet. In the Far East the Flag Officer 5th Cruiser Squadron became Flag Officer Second in Command Far East Fleet with similar seagoing duties. Increasingly the term 'Submarine Flotilla' was used to describe the squadrons under command of the Flag Officer Submarines.
The Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, gained an additional NATO responsibility as Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Atlantic (CINCEASTLANT), as part of Allied Command Atlantic, when the NATO military command structure was established in 1953. CINCEASTLANT was set up 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.
The submarine tender Maidstone was the fleet's flagship in 1956. In 1960, C-in-C Home Fleet moved to Northwood, and in 1966 NATO's Allied Command Channel (a post also held by C-in-C Home Fleet) moved to Northwood from Portsmouth.In February 1963 all remaining frigate and destroyer squadrons in the Home, Mediterranean and Far East Fleets were merged into new Escort Squadrons.
In April 1963, the naval unit at the Northwood Headquarters, in northwest London, 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. In 1967 the Home Fleet was amalgamated with the Mediterranean Fleet. With its area of responsibility greatly increased, the amalgamated formation was redesignated the Western Fleet.
|Commanders-in-Chief, Home Fleet 1945-67|
|1||Admiral||Sir Edward Syfret||November 1945 – January 1948|
|2||Admiral||Sir Rhoderick McGrigor||January 1948 – January 1950|
|3||Admiral||Sir Philip Vian||January 1950 – June 1952|
|4||Admiral||Sir George Creasy||January 1952 – January, 1954|
|5||Admiral||Sir Michael Denny||January 1954 – January 1956|
|6||Admiral||Sir John Eccles||January 1956 – January 1958|
|7||Admiral||Sir William Davis||January 1958 – July 1960|
|8||Admiral||Sir Wilfrid Woods||July 1960 – January 1963|
|9||Admiral||Sir Charles Madden||January 1963 – July 1965|
|10||Admiral||Sir John Frewen||July 1965 – October 1967|
Source for post holders after the Second World War:
The Far East Fleet was a fleet of the Royal Navy which existed between 1952 and 1971.
The Cruiser Squadron was a naval formation of the British Home Fleet consisting of Armored cruisers of the Royal Navy from 1899 to 1905.
The British Mediterranean Fleet also known as the Mediterranean Station was a formation 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 the Fleet was in existence until 1967.
The Atlantic Fleet was a naval fleet of the Royal Navy. It existed for two separate periods; 1909 until 1914, and then 1919 until 1932.
The 6th Battle Squadron was a squadron of the British Royal Navy consisting of Battleships serving in the Grand Fleet and existed from 1913 to 1917.
The Battle Cruiser Fleet, (BCF) and later known as Battle Cruiser Force was a naval formation of fast Battlecruisers of the Royal Navy from 1915 to 1919.
The First Cruiser Squadron was a Royal Navy squadron of cruisers that saw service as part of the Grand Fleet during the World War I then later as part of the Mediterranean during the Interwar period and World War II it first established in 1904 and existed until 1952.
The Eastern Fleet then later the East Indies Fleet was a fleet of the Royal Navy which existed between 1941 and 1952.
The 7th Battle Squadron was a squadron of the British Royal Navy assembled prior to World War One it was assigned to the Third Fleet and consisted of pre-dreadnought type battleships the oldest ships in fleet it existed from 1912 to 1914.
The 8th Battle Squadron was a squadron of the British Royal Navy assembled prior to the beginning of World War One; it was later assigned to the Third Fleet. The squadron consisted of pre-dreadnought type battleships. It existed from 1912 to 1914.
The 2nd Division was a naval formation of the British Home Fleet it was formed before First World War in March 1909 until May 1912.
The 2nd Cruiser Squadron was a formation of cruisers of the British Royal Navy from 1904 to 1919 and from 1921 to 1941 and again from 1946 to 1952.
The 9th Cruiser Squadron was a formation of cruisers of the Royal Navy from 1912 to 1919 and again from 1939 to 1940.
The 10th Cruiser Squadron, also known as Cruiser Force B was a formation of cruisers of the British Royal Navy from 1913 to 1917 and then again from 1940 to 1946.
The 1st Destroyer Flotilla also styled as First Destroyer Flotilla was a naval formation of the British Royal Navy from 1909 to 1940 and again from 1947 to 1951.
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.
The British 3rd Aircraft Carrier Squadron also called Third Aircraft Carrier Squadron was a military formation of Aircraft Carriers of the Royal Navy from January 1948 to July 1952.
The Flag Officer, Third Flotilla was the senior Royal Navy appointment in command of the Third Flotilla from 1979 to 1992.