Reserve Fleet (United Kingdom)

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Reserve Fleet
Active c. 1700–1960
Country United Kingdom
Branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Garrison/HQ Portsmouth

The Reserve Fleet was a Royal Navy formation of decommissioned vessels which could be brought to a state of readiness at time of war.


In the early years of the 18th century ships were "laid up in ordinary" at various British naval bases so establishing the Reserve Fleet as a repository for serviceable but decommissioned ships. In the 1820s, after the end of the Napoleonic War, more than 1,000 ships were laid up following budget cuts imposed by John Wilson Croker, First Secretary to the Admiralty, despite vehement opposition from serving officers.

The Reserve Fleet was brought to readiness for World War I.[1] It continued to exist in the inter-war years but in 1930 the Admiralty reduced it in size on the basis that war was unlikely in the ensuing 10 years.[2] At the start of World War II the Reserve Fleet, under the command of Vice Admiral Sir Max Horton,[3] was again brought to a state of readiness.[4] Some 15,000 men were called up in May 1939 to man the Reserve Fleet which became ready for service on 15 June 1939.[5] During the 1950s ships were regularly 'cocooned' for the Reserve Fleet[6] and it ceased to exist in 1960.[7]

Flag Officers Commanding[edit]

Flag Officers Commanding included:[8]


  1. ^ "Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher of Kilverstone 1841–1920". National Archives. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Moretz, p. 82
  3. ^ "Reserve Fleet". Orbat. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  4. ^ "Britain's Reserve Fleet 1939". British Pathe. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  5. ^ "Maritime War-The British Shore Organisation". The War at Sea. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  6. ^ "Reserve Fleet 1950". British Pathe. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  7. ^ "Royal Navy Maintenance and Supply Ships". Royal Navy Ships. Retrieved 23 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Senior Royal Navy Appointments