During the 1850s and 1860s the British Royal Navy was operating in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa fighting to suppress the Eastern Slave trade operating out of Zanzibar up to the North Coast of the Arabian Sea. Between 1862 and 1872 the British established an East Africa Squadron as part of the East Indies Station. In 1873 treaties were signed between Great Britain and the Sultanates of Muscat and Oman and Zanzibar allowing for a permanent naval presence on the Zanzibar coast. However Britain's real intentions in East Africa was to stop other European naval powers from establishing any similar bases in the region, and the station's purpose was to protect British trade interests passing through the Western Indian Ocean. In the early twentieth century HMNB Zanizibar was primarily used as a coaling station. Prior to World War I British naval operations were gradually scaled down.
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