Mediterranean Fleet

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

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.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

British Empire States and dominions ruled by the United Kingdom

The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. It originated with the overseas possessions and trading posts established by England between the late 16th and early 18th centuries. At its height, it was the largest empire in history and, for over a century, was the foremost global power. By 1913, the British Empire held sway over 412 million people, 23% of the world population at the time, and by 1920, it covered 35,500,000 km2 (13,700,000 sq mi), 24% of the Earth's total land area. As a result, its political, legal, linguistic and cultural legacy is widespread. At the peak of its power, the phrase "the empire on which the sun never sets" was often used to describe the British Empire, because its expanse around the globe meant that the sun was always shining on at least one of its territories.

Robert Blake (admiral) 17th-century military commander of the Commonwealth of England

General at Sea Robert Blake was one of the most important military commanders of the Commonwealth of England and one of the most famous English admirals of the 17th century, whose successes have "never been excelled, not even by Nelson" according to one biographer. Blake is recognised as the chief founder of England's naval supremacy, a dominance subsequently inherited by the British Royal Navy into the early 20th century. Despite this, due to deliberate attempts to expunge the Parliamentarians from history following the Restoration, Blake's achievements tend not to receive the full recognition that they deserve.

Contents

Pre-Second World War

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

Gibraltar British Overseas Territory

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory located at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. It has an area of 6.7 km2 (2.6 sq mi) and is bordered to the north by Spain. The landscape is dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar at the foot of which is a densely populated town area, home to over 30,000 people, primarily Gibraltarians.

Capture of Gibraltar siege

The Capture of Gibraltar by Anglo-Dutch forces of the Grand Alliance occurred between 1 and 4 August 1704 during the War of the Spanish Succession. Since the beginning of the war the Alliance had been looking for a harbour in the Iberian Peninsula to control the Strait of Gibraltar and facilitate naval operations against the French fleet in the western Mediterranean Sea. An attempt to seize Cádiz had ended in failure in September 1702, but following the Alliance fleet's successful raid in Vigo Bay in October that year, the combined fleets of the 'Maritime Powers', the Netherlands and England, had emerged as the dominant naval force in the region. This strength helped persuade King Peter II of Portugal to sever his alliance with France and Bourbon-controlled Spain, and ally himself with the Grand Alliance in 1703. Now with access to the Portuguese port of Lisbon the Alliance fleets could campaign in the Mediterranean, and conduct operations in support of the Austrian Habsburg candidate to the Spanish throne, the Archduke Charles, known to his supporters as Charles III of Spain.

Menorca one of the Balearic Islands

Menorca or Minorca is one of the Balearic Islands located in the Mediterranean Sea belonging to Spain. Its name derives from its size, contrasting it with nearby Majorca.

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]

A squadron, or naval squadron, is a significant group of warships which is nonetheless considered too small to be designated a fleet. A squadron is typically a part of a fleet. Between different navies there are no clear defining parameters to distinguish a squadron from a fleet, and the size and strength of a naval squadron varies greatly according to the country and time period. Groups of small warships, or small groups of major warships, might instead be designated flotillas by some navies according to their terminology. Since the size of a naval squadron varies greatly, the rank associated with command of a squadron also varies greatly.

Channel Fleet strait

The Channel Fleet and originally known as the Channel Squadron was the Royal Navy formation of warships that defended the waters of the English Channel from 1854 to 1909 and 1914 to 1915.

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]

Battleship large armored warship with a main battery consisting of heavy caliber guns

A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the battleship was the most powerful type of warship, and a fleet of battleships was considered vital for any nation that desired to maintain command of the sea.

Cruiser Type of large warships

A cruiser is a type of warship. Modern cruisers are generally the largest ships in a fleet after aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, and can usually perform several roles.

Tripoli, Lebanon City

Tripoli is the largest city in northern Lebanon and the second-largest city in the country. Situated 85 kilometers north of the capital Beirut, it is the capital of the North Governorate and the Tripoli District. Tripoli overlooks the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and it is the northernmost seaport in Lebanon. It holds a string of four small islands offshore, and they are also the only islands in Lebanon. The Palm Islands were declared a protected area because of their status of haven for endangered loggerhead turtles, rare monk seals and migratory birds.

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]

<i>Invincible</i>-class battlecruiser

The three Invincible-class battlecruisers were built for the Royal Navy and entered service in 1908 as the world's first battlecruisers. They were the brainchild of Admiral Sir John ("Jacky") Fisher, the man who had sponsored the construction of the world's first "all-big-gun" warship, HMS Dreadnought. He visualised a new breed of warship, somewhere between the armoured cruiser and battleship; it would have the armament of the latter, but the high speed of the former. This combination would allow it to chase down most ships, while allowing it to run from more powerful designs.

HMS <i>Inflexible</i> (1907) ship

HMS Inflexible was an Invincible-class battlecruiser of the British Royal Navy. She was built before World War I and had an active career during the war. She tried to hunt down the German battlecruiser SMS Goeben and the light cruiser SMS Breslau in the Mediterranean Sea when war broke out and she and her sister ship Invincible sank the German armoured cruisers SMS Scharnhorst and SMS Gneisenau during the Battle of the Falkland Islands. Inflexible bombarded Turkish forts in the Dardanelles in 1915, but was damaged by return fire and struck a mine while maneuvering. She had to be beached to prevent her from sinking, but she was patched up and sent to Malta, and then Gibraltar for more permanent repairs. Transferred to the Grand Fleet afterwards, she damaged the German battlecruiser Lützow during the Battle of Jutland and watched Invincible explode. She was deemed obsolete after the war and was sold for scrap in 1921.

HMS <i>Indomitable</i> (1907) 1907 Invincible-class battlecruiser of the Royal Navy

HMS Indomitable was one of three Invincible-class battlecruisers built for the Royal Navy before World War I and had an active career during the war. She tried to hunt down the German ships Goeben and Breslau in the Mediterranean when war broke out and bombarded Turkish fortifications protecting the Dardanelles even before the British declared war on Turkey. She helped to sink the German armoured cruiser Blücher during the Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915 and towed the damaged British battlecruiser HMS Lion to safety after the battle. She damaged the German battlecruisers Seydlitz and Derfflinger during the Battle of Jutland in mid-1916 and watched her sister ship HMS Invincible explode. Deemed obsolete after the war, she was sold for scrap in 1921.

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

HMS <i>Warspite</i> (03) Queen Elizabeth-class battleship

HMS Warspite was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship built for the Royal Navy during the early 1910s. Her thirty-year career covered both world wars and took her across the Atlantic, Indian, Arctic and Pacific Oceans. She participated in the Battle of Jutland during the First World War as part of the Grand Fleet. Other than that battle, and the inconclusive Action of 19 August, her service during the war generally consisted of routine patrols and training in the North Sea.

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-chiefFromToFlagshipNote
General at Sea: Robert Blake [20] [21] September 1654August 1657(styled as Commander of the Fleet for the Mediterranean and Commander of the Mediterranean Fleet)
Admiral of the Blue: Sir Thomas Allin [22] 16681669
Admiral of the Blue: Sir George Rooke [23] August 16951696
Vice-Admiral: John Neville [24] [25] November 1696August 1697 HMS Cambridge
Admiral of the Fleet: Sir Cloudesley Shovell [26] [27] May 17051707 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 17071708
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 17091710
Admiral of the White: Sir John Jennings [33] [34] November 17101711 HMS Blenheim
Admiral of the White Sir James Wishart [35] [36] December 17131714 HMS Rippon
Vice-Admiral of the Blue: John Baker [37] [38] February 17141715 HMS Lion
Vice-Admiral of the Blue: Charles Cornewall [39] [40] October 17161717
Admiral of the White: George Byng [41] June 17181720(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 1738December 1741
Rear-Admiral of the White: Richard Lestock [46] [47] November 1741December 1741 HMS Neptune
Vice-Admiral of the Red: Thomas Mathews [48] [49] March 1742
Vice-admiral of the White: Richard Lestock [50] December 17431744
Vice-Admiral of the Blue: William Rowley [51] [52] June 1744July 1745 HMS Neptune
Vice-Admiral of the White: Henry Medley [53] [54] July 1745August 1747 HMS Russell
Vice-Admiral of the Blue: Hon.John Byng [55] September 1747August 1748 HMS Princess
Rear-Admiral of the White: John Forbes [56] August 17481749(as Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean)
Rear-Admiral of the Blue: Charles Saunders [57] January 1757May 1757

Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet

Commanders-in-chief on the Mediterranean Station 1792-1883 Commanders in Chief of the Mediterranean Station 1.jpg
Commanders-in-chief on the Mediterranean Station 1792–1883
Commanders-in-chief on the Mediterranean Station, 1886-1957 Commanders in Chief of the Mediterranean Station, 1886-1957.jpg
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-chiefFromToFlagshipNote
Vice-Admiral Henry Osborn [61] May 1757April 1760
Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Saunders April 17601763
Vice-Admiral Augustus Hervey 1763?
Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Spry 17661769
Vice-Admiral Lord Howe [62] 17701774
Vice-Admiral Robert Man [63] 17741778
Vice-Admiral Robert Duff [63] 17781780
Vacant [63] 17801783
Vice-Admiral Sir John Lindsay 17831784
Vice-Admiral Phillips Cosby 17851789
Rear-Admiral Joseph Peyton 17891792
Rear-Admiral Samuel Granston Goodall 17921793
Vice-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood February 1793October 1794
Vice-Admiral Lord Hotham October 1794November 1795
Vice-Admiral Lord Jervis 17961799
Vice-Admiral Lord Keith November 17991802
Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson [59] [64] May 1803January 1805Died after Battle of Trafalgar
Vice-Admiral Lord Collingwood 18051810
Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Cotton [65] 18101811
Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Pellew 18111814
Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Penrose 18141815
Vice-Admiral Lord Exmouth 18151816
Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Penrose 18161818
Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Fremantle [66] 18181820
Vice-Admiral Sir Graham Moore 18201823
Vice-Admiral Sir Harry Burrard-Neale 18231826
Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Codrington 18261828
Vice-Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm 18281831
Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Hotham [59] [64] 30 March 183119 April 1833Died 19 April 1833
Vice-Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm 3 May 183318 December 1833
Vice-Admiral Sir Josias Rowley 18 December 18339 February 1837
Admiral Sir Robert Stopford 9 February 183714 October 1841
Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Owen 14 October 184127 February 1845
Vice-Admiral Sir William Parker 27 February 184513 July 1846Parker 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 184617 January 1852
Rear-Admiral Sir James Dundas 17 January 18521854Vice-Adm. 17 December 1852
Rear-Admiral Sir Edmund Lyons 185422 February 1858Vice-Adm. 19 March 1857
Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Fanshawe 22 February 185819 April 1860 Marlborough [68]
Vice-Admiral Sir William Martin 19 April 186020 April 1863Marlborough [69]
Vice-Admiral Sir Robert Smart 20 April 186328 April 1866Marlborough [70] then Victoria [71]
Vice-Admiral Lord Clarence Paget 28 April 186628 April 1869Victoria then Caledonia [72]
Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Milne 28 April 186925 October 1870 Lord Warden [73] Adm. 1 April 1870
Vice-Admiral Sir Hastings Yelverton 25 October 187013 January 1874Lord Warden [74]
Vice-Admiral Sir James Drummond 13 January 187415 January 1877Lord Warden then Hercules [75]
Vice-Admiral Sir Geoffrey Hornby 5 January 18775 February 1880 Alexandra [76] Adm. 15 June 1879
Vice-Admiral Sir Beauchamp Seymour 5 February 18807 February 1883 Inconstant and Alexandra [77] Adm. 6 May 1882
Vice-Admiral Lord John Hay 7 February 18835 February 1886 Alexandra [78] Adm. 8 July 1884
Vice-Admiral H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh 5 February 188611 March 1889 Alexandra [79] :222Adm. 18 October 1887
Vice-Admiral Sir Anthony Hoskins 11 March 188920 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 189122 June 1893 Victoria [80] Died in commission; lost in Victoria
Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour 29 June 189310 November 1896 Ramillies [79] :362
Admiral Sir John Hopkins 10 November 18961 July 1899 Ramillies [81] >
Admiral Sir John Fisher 1 July 18994 June 1902 [82] Renown
Admiral Sir Compton Domvile [83] 4 June 1902June 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 191725 July 1919 Superb Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean
Vice Admiral Sir John de Robeck [95] :85 & 94 [98] 26 July 191914 May 1922 Iron Duke
Vice Admiral Sir Osmond Brock [95] :92 [99] 15 May 19227 June 1925 Iron Duke Admiral 31 July 1924
Admiral Sir Roger Keyes [100] 8 June 19257 June 1928 Warspite
Admiral Sir Frederick Field 8 June 192828 May 1930 Queen Elizabeth [95] :121
Admiral Sir Ernle Chatfield [101] 27 May 193031 October 1932 Queen Elizabeth [95]
Admiral Sir William Fisher [102] [95] [103] [104] 31 October 193219 March 1936 Resolution later Queen Elizabeth [95] :121 & 123
Admiral Sir Dudley Pound [95] :140
[103] [105]
20 March 193631 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 1942February 1943Warspite
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 194220 February 1943HMS 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 194315 October 1943HMS Hannibal (base, Algiers/Taranto)Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet.
Admiral Sir John Cunningham [106] [107] 15 October 1943February 1946 HMS Hannibal (base, Algiers/Taranto)Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Station & Allied Naval Commander Mediterranean
Admiral Sir Algernon Willis [110] 19461948 HMS St Angelo (base, Malta) [81]
Admiral Sir Arthur Power 19481950HMS St Angelo (base, Malta) [81] Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean
Admiral Sir John Edelsten 19501952HMS St Angelo (base, Malta) [81] Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean
Admiral Earl Mountbatten of Burma 19521954HMS St Angelo (base, Malta) [81] Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean
Admiral Sir Guy Grantham [111] 10 Dec 195410 Apr 57HMS St Angelo (base, Malta) [81]
Vice Admiral Sir Ralph Edwards 10 Apr 5711 Nov 58HMS St Angelo (base, Malta) [81]
Admiral Sir Charles Lambe 11 Nov 582 Feb 59HMS Phoenicia (base, Malta) [81]
Admiral Sir Alexander Bingley 2 Feb 5930 Jun 61HMS Phoenicia (base, Malta) [81]
Admiral Sir Deric Holland-Martin 30 Jun 611 Feb 64HMS Phoenicia (base, Malta) [81]
Admiral Sir John Hamilton [14] :2971 Feb 19645 June 1967HMS 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.

NameDate/sNotes/Ref
Chief of Staff Mediterranean Fleet 1893 to 1967 [lower-alpha 1] [107]
Additional Chief of Staff, Mediterranean Fleet 1943 to 1944 [lower-alpha 2] [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.

Senior Flag Officers with fleet responsibilities
In command unit or formationDate/sNotes/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] [lower-alpha 3]
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] [lower-alpha 4]
Rear-Admiral, Mediterranean Fleet 1903 to 1905 [114]
Commodore (D) Commanding, Mediterranean Fleet Destroyers 1922 to 1965 [107] [lower-alpha 5]

Major operational and shore sub-commands

Note: At various times included the following.

In command of unit or formationDate/sNotes 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] [lower-alpha 6]
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] [lower-alpha 7]
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 [lower-alpha 8]
Flag Officer, Western Mediterranean July 1944 to May 1945
Rear-Admiral, Alexandria 1939 to 1944 [107] [lower-alpha 9]
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 [lower-alpha 10] [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 [lower-alpha 11]
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 formationDate/sNotes and Ref
Principal Naval Transport Officer, Mudros 31 August, 1915 – 20 January, 1916Commodore-in-Command [121]
Principal Naval Transport Officer, Salonika 20 January, 1916 – June, 1916Commodore-in-Command [122]
Minor shore sub-commands

Included: [lower-alpha 12]

LocationIn CommandDatesNotes/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.

Related Research Articles

Home Fleet fleet of the Royal Navy

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.

Atlantic Fleet (United Kingdom) early 20th century formation of the Royal Navy

The Atlantic Fleet was a major fleet formation of the Royal Navy. There have been two main formations in the Royal Navy officially called the Atlantic Fleet. The first was created in 1909 and lasted until 1914. The second lasted from 1919 until 1932.

Battle Cruiser Fleet

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.

1st Cruiser Squadron

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.

Admiral Sir Francis William Sullivan, 6th Baronet KCB CMG was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Cape of Good Hope Station.

The Second Fleet was a reserve formation of the Royal Navy that briefly existed before the First World War.

British Adriatic Squadron

The British Adriatic Squadron, or simply the Adriatic Squadron and later known as the British Adriatic Force, was a sub-command of the Mediterranean Fleet during World War I based at Taranto from 1915–19.

The Flag Officer-in-Charge, Humber was the naval commander who administered the Humber Station also called the Humber Area a military formation of the Royal Navy located at Immingham and Grimsby, Lincolnshire, England. In World War One it was a sub-command of the Admiral of Patrols from 1914 to 1916. then the Nore Station until 1921. In World War Two it was part of the Nore Command under the Commander-in-Chief, The Nore from 1939 to 1945.

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 Senior Naval Officer, Persian Gulf was a Royal Navy command appointment who was responsible for administering the Persian Gulf Station military formation including its establishments and naval forces known as the Persian Gulf Squadron later called the Persian Gulf Division. Initially located at Basidu, Qishm Island in Persia, then Henjam Island, Persia, (1911-1935) and finally Ras Al-Jufair, Bahrain from 1935 to 1972.

The14th Destroyer Flotilla also known as the Fourteenth Destroyer Flotilla was a naval formation of the British Royal Navy from April 1916 to 11 February 1919 and again from 1 June 1940 to January 1944.

Eastern Mediterranean Squadron

The Eastern Mediterranean Squadron and later known as the British Aegean Squadron was a sub- command of the Mediterranean Fleet based at Mudros from 1914 to 1916 then alternating between Mudros and Salonika from 1917 to 1919.

Red Sea Station

The Red Sea Station was one of the geographical divisions into which the Royal Navy divided its worldwide responsibilities. At various times it has also been referred to as Red Sea Division, Egypt Division and Red Sea and later the Red Sea and Canal Area it operated from 1846 until 1959 when it was unified with the Persian Gulf Station to create the Arabian Seas and Persian Gulf Station.

Principal naval transport officer (Royal Navy) British naval officer rank

In the Royal Navy, a principal naval transport officer (P.N.T.O.) later known as principal sea transport officer (P.S.T.O.) is a shore-based flag officer or captain responsible for sea transport duties, and to assist the senior naval officer's area of command in the preparation of naval orders and conduct disembarkations.. The rank was also in use in British Dominion Navies.

In the Royal Navy, a Divisional Transport Officer (DTO) or a Divisional Naval Transport Officer (DNTO) and later called a Divisional Sea Transport Officer (DSTO) is a shore-based naval officer responsible for the efficient working of the transports and boats of the flotilla, division or squadron under his charge.

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.

White Sea Station

The White Sea Station was a naval station of the British Royal Navy headquartered at Archangel, Russian Empire from 1917 to 1919. The station was commanded by the Rear-Admiral Commanding in the White Sea later the Senior Naval Officer, White Sea.

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.

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Further reading