Royal Navy Fleet Flagship

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The term 'Flagship' signifies a ship in which an Admiral (or a Commodore) flies his flag (or broad pennant). As, in the Royal Navy, shore establishments can be commissioned as warships, the term can also indicate that of shore establishments run by senior Royal Naval commanders. For example, in 1960, the Commanders-in-Chief of the Home Fleet and its successors the Western Fleet, and Commander-in-Chief Fleet, flew their flags ashore in HMS Warrior in Northwood, before the downgraded three-star Fleet Commander moved to Portsmouth in 2005. Since then the Fleet Commander has flown his flag from these Headquarters at the shore establishment HMS Excellent. In addition, the First Sea Lord flies his flag in HMS Victory (permanently based at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, but still a commissioned warship), and she is thus referred to as the 'First Sea Lord's Flagship'.

Fleet Flagship[edit]

In the Royal Navy, the Fleet Flagship is, technically, the ship that would host the 2* maritime battlestaff headquarters (such as COMUKMARFOR, a Rear Admiral who normally is based ashore) for operations, but more practically is considered to be the warship designated as the fleet's most prestigious vessel. In the modern era, it has usually been an aircraft carrier, but that changed in 2010 with the assignment of HMS Albion. The flag was transferred to HMS Bulwark in 2011 and HMS Ocean in June 2015,[1] before returning to HMS Albion in 2018[2]. It will revert to an aircraft carrier when HMS Queen Elizabeth assumes the duty in late 2018/early 2019.[3]

Historic Flagships[edit]

Ship Dates
HMS Ark Royal / HMS Anne Royal 1587–1636
Naseby / HMS Royal Charles 1655-1667
HMS Iron Duke 1914–1917
HMS Queen Elizabeth 1917–1919

Modern Fleet Flagships[edit]

Ship Dates
HMS Invincible 1993–2005
HMS Ark Royal 2005–2007
HMS Illustrious 2007–2009
HMS Ark Royal 2009 – 13 December 2010[4]
HMS Albion 13 December 2010 – 11 October 2011[5]
HMS Bulwark 11 October 2011 – 1 June 2015[6]
HMS Ocean 1 June 2015 – 27 March 2018[7]
HMS Albion 27 March 2018 - to date[8]
HMS Queen Elizabeth (in future - date to be confirmed)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Brazil says it has bagged Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean for £84m". The Register. Retrieved 3 January 2018.
  2. ^ "Future flagship Albion completes sea trials after £90m overhaul". Royal Navy. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Future Fleet Flagship Enters Service". Naval Today. Retrieved 27 October 2018.
  4. ^ "HMS Albion assumes role of fleet flagship". Ministry of Defence. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Plymouth-based HMS Albion becomes Royal Navy flagship". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 27 Oct 2018.
  6. ^ "HMS Ocean to assume Fleet Flagship role". Royal Navy. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2016.
  7. ^ "Queen decommissions British warship, HMS Ocean, in Devon". BBC. 27 March 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  8. ^ "Future flagship Albion completes sea trials after £90m overhaul". Royal Navy. 13 September 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2017.