Jamaica Station (Royal Navy)

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Jamaica Station
Hakewill, A Picturesque Tour of the Island of Jamaica, Plate 03.jpg
Ships at Port Royal c. 1820
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Part ofRoyal Navy
Garrison/HQPort Royal

The Jamaica Station was a formation or command of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy stationed at Port Royal in Jamaica from 1655 to 1830.


Remains of the Naval Hospital, rebuilt 1818 by Edward Holl.

The station was formed, following the capture of Jamaica, by assembling about a dozen frigates in 1655.[1] The first "Admiral and General-at-Sea" was Sir William Penn.[2] Its main objectives in the early years were to defend Jamaica and to harass Spanish ports and shipping.[3] In the late 1720s three successive commanders of the station lost their lives to tropical diseases while undertaking a Blockade of Porto Bello during the Anglo-Spanish War.[4] The general ill-health associated with the station continued throughout the century. An assessment of Navy strength at the Jamaica station in 1742 found around 3,000 men were fit to serve out of a total Navy complement of 6,620.[5] A Navy hospital was constructed in 1745 but its location was poor and many patients brought in for shipboard diseases developed additional tropical illnesses while in the hospital itself. A report to the Admiralty in 1749 found that the hospital was "rather a hurt to the [Navy] Service than a Relief."[6]

The station merged with the North American Station to form the North America and West Indies Station in 1830.[2]

The station closed in 1830, but the Royal Navy continued to operate the dockyard until it closed it in 1905. An earthquake in 1907 and hurricane in 1951 damaged the abandoned dockyard. Part of the station now houses the headquarters of the Jamaica Defence Coast Guard (HMJS Cagway, Port Royal); the rest is being restored as part of the Port Royal Heritage Tourism Project.[7]


Commanders included: [8]

Commander-in-Chief, Jamaica Station[edit]

The barque Woodmansterne calling for a pilot at Port Royal

Commander-in-Chief, West Indies[edit]

Sub commands[edit]

Unit From To Ref
Jamaica Dockyard 1675 1829 [9]
Port Antonio Dockyard 1729 1749


  1. ^ Bradley, p. 192
  2. ^ a b Cundall, p. xx
  3. ^ Bradley, p. 198
  4. ^ Bradley, p. 204
  5. ^ Baugh 1965, p. 217
  6. ^ Admiralty papers 1/234, 15 January 1749. Cited in Baugh 1965, p. 218
  7. ^ "Port Royal Heritage Tourism Project" (PDF). Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  8. ^ Cundall, Frank (1915). "Historic Jamaica : With fifty-two illustrations". archive.org. London : Published for the Institute of Jamaica by the West India Committee, pp. 28-31. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  9. ^ Cundall, Frank (1915). Historic Jamaica : With fifty-two illustrations. England: London : Published for the Institute of Jamaica by the West India Committee. p. xxii.


External links[edit]