North America and West Indies Station

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North America and West Indies Station
John Christian Schetky, Boarding the Chesapeake (19th century).jpg
The capture of USS Chesapeake on 1 June 1813 as depicted by John Christian Schetky
Active North 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)
Country United Kingdom, Bermuda, and Canada
Branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Type Fleet
Part of Royal Navy
Garrison/HQ Royal Naval Dockyard, Halifax &
Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda
Notable ships Fame, Invincible, Leopard, Resolute
Engagements Battle 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, Battle of Baltimore (War of 1812),
pursuit of SM U-53 (1916),
Battle of the Atlantic (1939–1945)
Disbanded 1 April 1976
This article is about the British naval formation. For the U.S. Navy's West Indies Squadron of 1822-1842, see West Indies Squadron (United States). For the U.S. Navy West India Squadron of the American Civil War (1861-1865), see Union blockade.

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 1745-1956. The North American Station was separate from with the West Indies Station until 1818 when the two combined to form the North America and West Indies Station. 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.


Admiralty House, Bermuda, at Mount Wyndham (the location from 1910 to 1916)

The squadron was formed in 1745 to counter French forces in North America: for the first sixty years the headquarters of the squadron was at Halifax Naval Yard in Nova Scotia - now CFB Halifax.[1] The headquarters for North American Station of the Royal Navy was Halifax from 1758-1818. Land and buildings for a permanent Naval Yard were purchased by the Royal Naval Dockyard, Halifax in 1758 and the Yard was officially commissioned in 1759. The Yard served as the main base for the British Royal Navy in North American during the Seven Years' War, the American Revolution, the French Revolutionary Wars and the War of 1812. In 1818 Halifax became the summer base for the squadron which shifted to the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda for the remainder of the year.[2]

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

In 1818, its main base was moved to Bermuda which was better positioned to counter threats from the United States.[3] The Royal Navy had created a permanent establishment in Bermuda in 1795, and began buying land around the archipelago for the development of a naval base including what became the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda.[4] Halifax continued to be used as the summer base for the station.[5]

In 1926, the appointment was redesignated Commander-in-Chief, America and West Indies.[6] After the closure of most of the Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda in 1951, a small part of the base known as HMS Malabar served as the succeeding station.[4]

In 1952, the Commander-in-Chief, Vice Admiral Sir William Andrewes, became the initial Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic.[7] On 29 October 1956, the command became Senior Naval Officer West Indies (SNOWI): SNOWI served as Island Commander Bermuda in the NATO chain of command, reporting to Commander-in-Chief, Western Atlantic Area, as part of SACLANT.[8] SNOWI was finally disbanded on 1 April 1976.[4]

By 1995, when Malabar was handed over to the Government of Bermuda, 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.[9]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Royal Naval Dockyards". Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Marilyn Gurney, The Kings Yard, Maritime Command Museum, Halifax.
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ a b c "Bermuda's Royal Navy base at Ireland Island from 1815 to the 1960s". Retrieved 2 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Wardroom Officers' Mess". CFB Halifax. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  6. ^ Commanders-in-Chief 1904 - 1975
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ UK Chiefs of Staff Committee, Command in the Caribbean, DEFE 5/188/4, January 1971, via The National Archives
  9. ^ "West Indies Guard Ship". Retrieved 2 September 2012. 

External links[edit]