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Navy Books - News & Events



     HMS President Preservation Trust, the charity that owns HMS President 1918 (“The President”), London's last remaining World War One ship, and one of only three left has been refused Lottery funding of £330,000 to secure its future.

    During WW1 The President was a secret German U Boat Submarine hunter (a 'Q ship') shadowing the Atlantic convoys with concealed guns. In WW2 She was used to protect St Paul's Cathedral from the Luftwaffe and as a base for the French Resistance.

    The President had to be moved from its 92 year mooring at London's Victoria Embankment in February 2016 to storage at Chatham Docks in Kent awaiting refurbishment of its hull and a new mooring in Central London due to the major Thames Tideway Tunnel sewer Project. The City of London Corporation have in principle given their support to a new mooring for the President adjacent to London Bridge on the North bank of the River Thames.  However without the funding required to pay for this, the Trustees of the Charity are unable to move forward.

    The President is planned to be a key part of the WW1 Centenary celebrations in 2018 as it celebrates its own Centenary that year. The Charity has the support of numerous senior Politicians and Peers, the Military and related Organisations and Charities such as the National Maritime Museum of the Royal Navy, 14-18 Now and The National Historic Dockyard.

    However despite widespread support and thousands of members of the public who receive monthly newsletters from the Charity the Heritage Lottery Fund said although 'the application was fundable' they considered it 'too high risk' and other projects were funded in preference to The President.

    Gawain Cooper, Chairman of the Charity said ''Our Trustees are bitterly disappointed that with all the public support we have, and after having been encouraged by a senior director of the Heritage Lottery to reapply for the £330,000, that we were again refused support. This decision will most likely condemn The President to the scrap yard''.

    The Charities last resort is an appeal and application to The Treasury for Government funding and it is hoped that the new Chancellor, Philip Hammond who was previously Defence Secretary and aware of the importance of The President  to the nation and military will now step in and save her.

     Supporters can help through and by signing a petition to the government

    Further Information:

    E: [email protected]

    T: +44 203 189 0089



    LONDON,  SQ18 1 EP



    This article was originally posted on the ‘Save The Royal Navy’ Website for more details of their work see:


    The tradition of Navy Days dates back to the 1920s when the Royal Dockyards were open to the public for “Navy Week”. Under various names and formats these events were held every year (except during WWII) until the Royal Navy finally gave up on them with the Meet your Navy event at Portsmouth in 2010.

    Memorable occasions:     Besides a wide variety of ships open to visitors, Navy Days in the 1970s until the 2000s typically included flying displays, river and basin displays, parachute jumps, the Royal Marine band, static displays and stalls and much more. There was something for all the family. It is difficult to see any downside to staging these events. The public, particularly in the naval towns got to see and understand what the navy does and had a great day out. The local tourism benefited from an increase of visitors. Above all it was a powerful public relations exercise for the Navy while a large share of the monies raised went to supporting the work of naval charities.

    The Navy maybe small but it can be done:             The SDSR of 2010 was a body blow to the RN and its is understandable that a service down to a bare minimum of ships and personnel felt that Navy Days was a commitment that could be dispensed with. The RN remains very much under that same pressure but in 2016 there has been a significant change to the operating patterns of the last few years. Much of the RN surface fleet is alongside or in UK waters this summer. This is to allow ship’s companies a good leave period in an effort to retain personnel and build bridges after too many broken promises in the past. There is also a Russian threat that demands ships be kept closer to home and there is the regular autumn Cougar deployment to prepare for. However, with most of the surface fleet in our naval bases for August, and presumably for the next few summers to come, it is harder to argue there are no ships available for display for just two or three days.

    Navy Days duty was never particularly popular amongst sailors but they only require a small number to man the ship when open to visitors. With sensible management it would have only minor impact on summer leave and duty rosters. There is still an obvious shortage of RN ships available when compared to the past, however it is quite possible to ‘pad out’ what is on display by inviting vessels from foreign navies and other maritime organisations. In the past many foreign warships have participated, historic ships, vessels from the Army, Trinity House, the British Antarctic Survey, the Sea Cadets, and others have all been part of the show.

    Security concerns have sometimes been cited as a reason not to hold Navy Days. In the 1980s there was a sharp rise in IRA attacks on mainland Britain but the RN did not flinch. Security was increased, strict bag searches were introduced and below decks access to ships was reduced. Naval bases are inherently secure and can monitor and control who enters with much more ease than many of the other venues currently used for armed forces events.

    The much smaller Royal Netherlands Navy manages to stage thriving Den Helder Navy Days events most years. It is also interesting to note that despite having fought a war sustaining considerable loses and damage, as well as supporting continuing commitments in the South Atlantic, the RN still managed to stage Plymouth Navy Days in August 1982.

     The battle for hearts and minds:        While canceling Navy Days may have made sense at the time, it has been to the detriment of the RN in the long-term. Navy Days had a big impact on the public perception of the service and is also just one of the many unhelpful ingredients of a growing sea blindness in the UK. One does not tend to forget the warships you have actually stood on and the sailors you met on board, people then follow the activities of the ship with a more personal interest. At a time when the RN needs political and public support to ensure it is funded properly, abandoning the biggest opportunity for the public to have access to its navy is counter-productive. The recruitment aspects are also significant. A single Navy Days is unlikely to have a big impact, but over several years many children are denied seeing the navy first hand and are less likely to consider the RN as a career.

    Individual ships are open to visitors in ports round the UK quite frequently and they often over-subscribed but this is no substitute for the thousands that would attend Navy Days. The best effort in the last few years has been a a sideshow at the Bournemouth Air Festival. Up to 4 ships are anchored off the beach and a few lucky members of the public can visit by pre-booked boat trips. The RNAS Yeovilton and Culdrose Air Days are excellent events to that promote naval aviation but fundamentally the navy is about ships. While the RN is increasingly out of sight and out of mind, the RAF is in attendance at around 45 airshows every summer. 26 of them are can be considered major airshows with the RAF hosting several and providing aircraft including the Red Arrows & Typhoons, plus ground displays. Of course with hundreds of aircraft that can fly all over the country for flypasts and air displays the RAF has the advantage in maintaining a high public profile. It is therefore even more important the RN does not shoot itself in the foot by not opening up a naval base once a year. Ironically while naval enthusiasts have virtually nothing to attend, aviation enthusiasts are up in arms because, out of more than 40 airshows on offer, a handful have been cancelled (due to tighter regulations and higher costs resulting from the Shoreham Air Show disaster in 2015).

    Looking ahead:               By the time the two aircraft carriers are complete, every person in Britain will have contributed an average of £110 through their taxes to the cost. Perhaps it is only fair a few taxpayers get the opportunity to really appreciate them close up. With the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth there is an obvious centrepiece for a Portsmouth Navy Days 2017 that would be a huge public attraction. The largest vessel ever built for the RN has the capacity to cope with crowds and to some extent mitigate for the inevitably small number of other RN vessels on show.

    There would be significant work to be done behind the scenes but with a little imagination the RN, renowned for its organisational and presentational ability can make this happen. It could be done without a big impact on operational priorities while having a huge benefit to the profile, understanding and support for the service. Let’s bring back this much loved institution, alternating between Devonport and Portsmouth every year.

    This article was inspired by a comment on Twitter by the excellent Gabriele Molinelli.

    Following the many comments on NavyBooks’ most recent blog about the possibility of the Royal Navy being tasked to patrol our shoreline alongside, or instead of, the UK Border Force. A flotilla of Royal Navy patrol boats and cutters, small enough to berth alongside in almost every harbour in Britain, would also do much to raise the profile of the Royal Navy.



  • Another task for the Royal Navy?

    An already stretched and under resourced Royal Navy has been asked to deploy vessels from its ever shrinking Fleet to patrol the UK maritime border.

    The Home Affairs select committee has proposed that the Royal Navy be deployed in the English Channel to protect the UK against migrant people-smugglers and the heightened terror threat.  Extra patrols around the border are needed because the UK’s fleet of Border Protection cutters is depleted and not sufficient to protect against the threat to the country from the refugee crisis.

    It emerged that just three Border Force cutter vessels were being used to patrol the UK's 7,000 miles of coastal borders. The English Channel has in recent months become the key front in the battle to protect Britain’s borders. Last week a court heard how smugglers were making up to £100,000 per journey ferrying boat loads of desperate migrants into tiny ports around UK’s porous coastline.

    Demonstrating a misunderstanding of the current capacity of the Royal Navy the MPs warn that Royal Navy ships “must be used in our sea war against the traffickers” amid fears terrorists are exploiting the migrant crisis to gain access to European countries.

    Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Home Affairs select committee, said: “Criminal gangs continue to exploit weaknesses in security at small ports in Britain to illegally transport migrants from the continent. “Despite maritime security being critical to an island nation, Border Force is operating worryingly low numbers of vessels to protect our borders. Royal Navy vessels must be used in our sea war against the traffickers. “The attacks in Paris demonstrated that terrorists are exploiting this crisis by using this human tragedy as a cloak to re-enter Europe.

    What do you think? Is this an appropriate task for the Royal Navy? Do we have enough ships and personnel to carry out the task effectively? What tasks should be sidelined to enable the RN to take on this role?

    NavyBooks' view is that while controlling our national maritime border is a vital part of national security it is not a role or commitment that the Royal Navy is currently properly equipped or resourced to carry out. Such a role might usefully be added to the tasks of the Fishery Protection Squadron - but the current squadron of four River Class ships would be insufficient and, in any case, are now routinely deployed 'out of area' to the Caribbean and other parts of the world - to cover for shortfalls in operational warship numbers.

    If the task were to be properly resourced then there would be much benefit to the Royal Navy in taking over the UK Border Agency tasks, creating an RN Borders Patrol Squadron of a dozen, or so, cutters and patrol boats that would operate alongside the police, HMRC and security agencies and become an element of the existing Fishery Protection Squadron - which, in past times, frequently took on a security role, particularly during the 'Trouble' in Northern Ireland interdicting IRA, UDA and other terrorist traffic and smuggling operations.

    Operating many more small ships than is currently the case would benefit recruitment and training at all levels. Service in small ships is a great way to test the calibre of personnel - giving everyone, ratings and officers alike, real autonomy and responsibility with consequential positive impact of the effectiveness of the Royal Navy personnel and their subsequent careers.

  • FLAT OUT - The Royal Fleet Auxiliary in 2016

    This article was originally published by Save The Royal Navy and we thank them for allowing us to reproduce it here.

    Like the naval service, manpower shortages, tight budgets and industrial issues, together with ever-increasing demand for its services are creating a perfect storm of pressure on the RFA.

    Depending on your point of view, the RFA is either being over-worked and its vessels utilised in ways beyond what is prudent, or it is demonstrating incredible flexibility and the best of British improvisation. The RFA has been increasingly taking on ‘traditional’ warship roles over the last 20 years but 2016 has witnessed this trend taken to extremes.

    RFA Fort Victoria has mostly spent the last few years providing support to RN and coalition vessels in the Gulf and Indian Ocean. After refit in the UK during 2014 she returned to Gulf duty. The Prime Minister often likes to be seen to be “doing something” on the international stage and has regularly offered to despatch a naval vessel, presumably without consulting the Navy to see if his cuts have left any ships available. He despatched the flagship HMS Bulwark to attend to the growing migrant crisis in the Mediterranean last Summer but the for the crisis in the Aegean this year the only option was a 31,000 tonne auxiliary, far away in the Gulf.

    Her great size allowed her to easily embark plenty of specialist personnel as she headed to the Aegean in March. Royal Marines, a Lynx helicopter flight, medical staff, interpreters, Border Force personnel, intelligence advisors and specialist searchers could all be comfortably accommodated. However, signs of desperation were apparent, even the usually inscrutable Royal Navy website admitted that an auxiliary of this size was ill-suited to these patrols, particularly in the confined and busy waters of Aegean. Despite her limitations, Fort Victoria ably acted as command ship for the inevitable rescue operations that save lives but do nothing to solve the long-term migrant crisis. After only a few weeks she was sent back through the Suez Canal to revert to her more familiar duties.

    RFA Mounts Bay was deployed on migrant patrols in the Aegean in early March for just a few weeks before being relived by Fort Victoria. She arrived in Gibraltar for a “30 day” refit on 11th April but technical problems delayed her departure until 30th May. She will spend her summer “patrolling” the Med before joining the Cougar 16 deployment in September.

    RFA Lyme Bay participated in exercise Griffin Strike in UK waters in April. During the exercise FS Dixmude, HMS Bulwark, HMS Ocean, HMS Sutherland, RFA Lyme Bay formed up with a French tanker and 3 French frigates to create a substantial and genuinely credible amphibious task force (in contrast with the RN’s rather less robust recent Response Force Task Groups). Five years after the Lancaster House agreement was signed, this was a tangible demonstration of genuine Anglo-French power projection capability. Lyme Bay then visited Gibraltar (pictured above) before heading to the Gulf where it is planned she will remain for several years.

    RFA Cardigan Bay has been based in Bahrain as support ship for Gulf mine warfare forces for the last 3 years. Alongside in Souda Bay, Crete On 18 May she formally handed her Gulf duties on to Lyme Bay. Cardigan Bay then joined Standing NATO Group 2 which is conducting migrant patrol duty in the Eastern Med. It is expected she will return to Falmouth for major refit in the near future.

    Apart from hydrographic survey ship HMS Enterprise, not a single Royal Navy warship has been seen in the Med in the last few months while the RFA has been rapidly shuffled around, valiantly covering gaps.

    Although the threat from the Russian navy is part of the reason more RN vessels are staying close to home, the underbelly of Southern Europe is a worry. Migrants, mostly from Africa making dangerous journeys across the Med will remain a problem. UK special forces are apparently active in an unstable Libya and need support from the sea while terrorism on the beaches of North Africa or Europe is also a concern.

    RFA Wave Knight is due to replace HMS Mersey in APT(N) on Caribbean patrol in July. The last two APT(N) deployments have been conducted by two OPVs. It is interesting that with media focus on migrants crossing the English Channel by sea that all three OPVs will be back in home waters. RFAs have conducted Caribbean patrols before and although cumbersome, they do benefit from having a flight deck and embarked Lynx. RFA Wave Ruler remains in the South Coast areas operating as FOST tanker.

    RFA Black Rover has already been decommissioned and awaits her fate in Birkenhead. Apart from OPV HMS Clyde, the 40-year old unarmed tanker RFA Gold Rover is at present is the closest thing we have to a South Atlantic Patrol ship. The Armed Forces Minister cynically cited “operational security” to avoid questions in Parliament about if an RN warship will ever again be sent on APT(S). Gold Rover completed extended maintenance period in Simon’s Town, South Africa in February and is now operating off West Africa. She will return home from this final deployment to be scrapped.

    There has been a deafening silence from official sources about the delays to the four new Tide class RFAs being constructed by DSME South Korea. As the Rover class leave service this will temporarily leave the RFA with just 3 vessels able to provide fuel to warships at sea!

    RFA Tidespring was originally due in Falmouth in Spring 2016 for final fitting out with RAS and military equipment but this has slipped to “anytime between mid-August and mid-September”. She has conducted sea trials off Korea but it is unclear if the delays are due to technical or manpower problems. The hulls of her 3 sisters are all at various advanced stages of construction and the initial build work seems to have been completed efficiently. Assuming the delay is technical, it raises the question of whether DSME are paying the MoD penalties for late delivery. What are the knock-on and financial implications for A&P Falmouth who were all set to begin the £15M final fitting out contract?

    In early 2014 RFA Orangeleaf entered refit at Cammel Laird in Birkenhead but in September the work was suspended. She was in poor condition but there was a very optimistic plan to convert her into a double-hulled tanker and extend her life for several years. There had been expenditure on new generators and other equipment installed before it was discovered that the hull was too corroded to be converted. She was towed away for scrap in February 2016, looking in sparkling condition. Another shocking waste of scarce taxpayer resources.

    RFA Diligence remains in indefinite lay up in Birkenhead with no immediate or long-term replacement mentioned in MoD planning. Nearby RFA Fort Austin also remains inexplicably laid up, apparently in good condition after maintenance carried out at CL between December 2015 and February 2016. RFA Fort Rosalie has been active in the South Coast areas. In March she was the largest available vessel that could be found for Portsmouth tugs to use as practice for docking HMS Queen Elizabeth. RFA Argus has been one of the few RFA ships employed predominantly in her intended primary role during 2016, providing aviation training off the South Coast.


  • Supporting the Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity - Press Release

    NavyBooks celebrates website re-launch with charitable pledge


    Our new-look website, which hosts hundreds of naval titles and thousands of books, ranging from amateur-penned memoirs to established thought-leaders in naval history, warships and maritime warfare, is to donate 1% of all revenue to The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) as its 2016 Charity of the Year.

    New NavyBooks owner and Managing Director, Ian Whitehouse, is a former submariner who served with the Second Submarine Squadron in Plymouth and now lives in North Cornwall.

    He says that the RNRMC was an obvious candidate to support because of his personal links to the Royal Navy. NavyBooks’ main customers typically also have close links to, and support for, the Royal Navy.  With the launch of the new website, and understanding our customers’ passion for the subject, we thought it was a good time to partner with The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, especially considering their support for the veteran community.”

    Steve Bush, NavyBooks editor, is also a Royal Navy veteran. A communications technician he joined the Royal Navy, at HMS Raleigh, Torpoint, in 1978. On leaving the Royal Navy in 2000 he joined Maritime Books, and edits the business’ flagship magazines, such as ‘Warship World’ and ‘Warship World Pictorial’, while also writing books and supporting the venture’s authors and contributors.


    NavyBooks is a new 2016 Cornish publishing venture building on a previous publishing business ‘Maritime Books’. Based in Liskeard it is a specialist naval publisher and bookseller. It publishes two magazines ‘Warship World’ and ‘Warship World Pictorial’ as well as books about the Royal Navy. Its annual publication ‘British Warships and Auxiliaries’ details every ship in the Royal Navy and was first published in 1979; it has not missed a year since. NavyBooks also operates an on-line retail business, with 100s of titles and 1,000s of books, selling to the general public and trade customers from its website:


    Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity

    The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity is the principal charity of the Royal Navy. It exists to support sailors, marines and their families, for life.

    Since 2007 it has funded projects and facilities that boost morale for those who serve today. It also distributes millions of pounds annually to military charities who care for the children, families and veterans of the Naval Service.

    For more information on The Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, call 023 9387 1520 or visit


    This article is based on one previously published by Commander Rob Forsyth, Royal Navy in the February 2016 issue of The Naval Review. Commander Forsyth argues that, far from being 'independent and keeping us safe' as claimed, the cost of Trident and its replacement is making UK less safe by crippling our military capability. 


    The 2015 election failed to stimulate any debate on defence at all, never mind the nuclear deterrent (stand fast the SNP); the general public is blindly and trustingly accepting the Government's policy without access to the full facts. As Executive Officer of a Polaris submarine in the 1970's I concurred with the then government policy of Mutually Assured Destruction - because I was confident that it would only ever be fired as a second-strike retaliation should the USSR fire at us first. The balance of opinion amongst 'The Trade' – although not held by all - was that the Polaris Force was an expensive insurance policy which we were unlikely to use but was necessary. However, significantly, we also had the resources to send a Task Force to the South Atlantic in 1982 and later, in 1991, to make a significant contribution to the invasion of Iraq.

    Fortunately, although the USSR's stated ambition was of world domination by any means, its leaders were sensible enough to calculate the odds and either backed off or never had the intention of launching a major nuclear missile attack in the first place. We will never know for sure. Well-informed opinion now tends towards the latter.

    On 24 March 2002  Geoff Hoon, the then Defence Secretary, stated in a BBC interview that the UK was prepared to use nuclear weapons against 'rogue states' such as Iraq if they ever used weapons of mass destruction against British troops in the field; the implication being that the second-strike policy still remained the status quo. He also added some very significant words:  'What I cannot be absolutely confident about is whether or not that would be sufficient to deter them from using a weapon of mass destruction in the first place.' A Government policy paper of 8 May 2015 stated: 'We will not rule in or out the first use of nuclear weapons' which indicated that a pre-emptive nuclear weapon strike had now become an option.

    There has been no significant challenge to this major shift in policy even though a single missile with a single 100Kt warhead,  euphemistically called a 'sub-strategic missile although its destructive power is equivalent to approximately six Hiroshima bombs - exceeds international humanitarian law, never mind a salvo of 16 missiles each with multiple warheads. This has been accomplished with no public debate about the perceived threats nor has there been any discussion about the devastating effect that even one missile could cause. In consequence much of the electorate blindly trust the good judgement of Government on an issue every bit as important as whether we should stay in the European Union.

    One can assume that firing 16 missiles with a maximum warhead payload would only be used in a retaliatory Cold War MAD type situation. Happily no such threat exists. Even President Putin, and his expansionist policy, has no aspiration for a world war because he also is a man who can calculate the odds, as did his predecessors. Maintaining the ability to deliver a MAD-level response is keeping the capability alive just in case a superpower ever emerges with such aspirations.        ........................................ this is an extract from Commander Forsyth's full article published next week in Warship World Jul/Aug edition. In the Sep/Oct edition we will be publishing a response by Rear Admiral John Gower. To read more subscribe to Warship World, six magazines a year published by NavyBooks.



    We read and hear about warmer winters. Brian Hawkins, a retired BBC producer, looks back over 60 years to a winter which started out as one of the coldest, and to his involvement in "Operation Snowdrop" whilst he was serving in the Royal Navy on his National Service engagement.

    In early January 1955 I was returning from Christmas leave to my ship, HMS GLORY, a light fleet carrier, which had distinguished herself in the then recent Korean campaign. Berthed in the Royal Naval Dockyard Portsmouth, in the shadow of Nelson's flagship Victory, GLORY was preparing to join the reserve fleet.

    However adverse weather conditions dictated a change of plan, Glory was to be deployed on a humanitarian mission and join "Operation Snowdrop". The weather conditions in Scotland had been severe. The country north of the Caledonian canal was virtually cut off from the rest of Scotland. Relief operations by the Royal Air Force had already started from Kinloss, and from Wick airport; 2 Royal Navy Whirlwind helicopters were dropping essential supplies to villages isolated by 10 foot snowdrifts.

    Meanwhile we in GLORY sailed from Portsmouth for Port Glasgow, where we embarked supplies of food, animal fodder, aviation spirit and medical supplies. From Glasgow we steamed north, our destination Loch Eriboll, Scotland's most northerly sea loch. Here we set up a base from which Royal Navy helicopters could more easily drop supplies to the most northerly villages and crofts.

    The voyage north was quite spectacular, sailing within sight of the Scottish mainland and the nearby islands. The snow covered landscapes to each side of us dazzling in the bright sunshine under a  clear blue sky. We were enjoying the sort of environment that cruising holiday makers pay thousands to be part of.

    Loch Eriboll, as well as being the most northerly,is certainly the biggest sea loch, being a deep finger of inland sea almost 10 miles in length.  Anchored in it's mouth was to be GLORY’s home for the next few days. The depth of the snow on the land each side of us created a strange acoustic effect, an uncanny silence only to be disturbed by the low frequency throb of Whirlwind helicopters approaching our flight deck.

    One particular day the Whirlwinds dropped over 3000lbs. of supplies, including cattle food and kerosene, to 34 villages ..................................................... this is an extract from Brian Hawkins' full article published next week in Warship World. To read more subscribe to Warship World, six magazines a year published by NavyBooks.

  • 1982 - Falklands Surrender

    72 days after the Argentinian forces invaded the Falkland Isles a ceasefire was declared on 14 June; the commander of the Argentine garrison in Stanley, Brigade General Mario Menéndez, surrendered to Major General Jeremy Moore the same day.

    In the face of seemingly impossible distance and against a background of impending cuts to the Armed Forces, particularly the Royal Navy Britain put together and despatched a military Task Force, that sailed with 4 days of the invasion, to regain the dependency from the Argentine invaders.

    225 British personnel, 649 Argentine personnel and 3 civilians died in the conflict, nearly 2,400 were wounded. 16 ships were lost, over 80 fixed wing aircraft and nearly 50 helicopters were downed.

    It is said that senior officers are always ready to fight the last war and unprepared for the next. Could Britain today despatch and sustain a similar standalone Task Force - should it retain this capability in times of austerity - do we need this capability?

    What do you think?


  • Devonport Royal Dockyard & Warships

    In 1588, the ships of the English Navy set sail to attack the Spanish Armada through the mouth of the River Plym, thereby establishing the naval presence in Plymouth.

    In 1689 Prince William of Orange became William III and almost immediately required the building of a new dockyard west of Portsmouth. Edmund Dummer, Surveyor of the Royal Navy, travelled to Devon searching for an area where a dockyard could be built; he sent in two estimates for sites, one in Plymouth, Cattewater and one further along the coast, on the Hamoaze, a section of the River Tamar. Having dismissed the Plymouth site as inadequate, he settled on the Hamoaze area which soon became known as Plymouth Dock, later renamed Devonport. On 30 December 1690, a contract was let for a dockyard to be built: the start of Plymouth (later Devonport) Royal Dockyard. Dummer was given responsibility for designing and building the new yard.

    At the heart of his new dockyard, Dummer placed a stone-lined basin, giving access to what proved to be the first successful stepped stone dry dock in Europe. Previously the Navy Board had relied upon timber as the building material for dry docks. The docks Dummer designed were stronger with more secure foundations and stepped sides that made it easier for men to work beneath the hull of a docked vessel.

    Dummer wished to ensure that naval dockyards were efficient working units that maximised available space, as evidenced by the simplicity of his design layout at Plymouth Dock. He introduced a centralised storage area alongside the basin, and a logical positioning of other buildings around the yard. His double rope house combined the previously separate tasks of spinning and laying while allowing the upper floor to be used for the repair of sails. On high ground overlooking the rest of the yard he built a grand terrace of houses for the senior dockyard officers.

    Most of Dummer's buildings and structures were rebuilt over ensuing years, including the basin and dry dock (today known as No. 1 Basin and No. 1 Dock). The terrace survived into the 20th century, but was largely destroyed in the Plymouth Blitz along with several others of Devonport's historic buildings. Just one end section of the terrace survives; dating from 1692–96, it is the earliest surviving building in any royal dockyard.

    Thus the Royal Dockyard Devonport has a history going back over 300 years. From its inception, ships were being refitted in the new Dockyard and within twelve months, the first two Devonport Warships built had been launched. Many, many more followed - including some illustrious and historic names HMS ROYAL OAK, HMS WARSPITE and HMS EXETER. The last warship to be launched at Devonport was the frigate HMS SCYLLA, launched in 1968 and completed in 1969. The last large vessel to come off the slip was the Research Vessel Crystal, launched in 1971.

    NavyBooks will be publishing its next new book on 13 June 2016 - a revised, updated and reformatted edition of our 1981 book Devonport Built Warships. It includes new images, more details and extended captions for almost every one of the 145 ships built between 1860 and 1971; ships that include illustrious and historic names such as HMS ROYAL OAK, HMS WARSPITE and HMS EXETER.

    This book is intended to be the first of several to chronicle the shipbuilding activity of the Royal Dockyards since 1860, a year widely recognised as the beginning of the modern Royal Navy.

  • E18 - Centenary of Loss

    The Royal Navy submarine E18 was lost, with all hands, on 2 June 2016. A joint memorial service is being held on 5th June at 13.00 in the Church of the Holy Spirit, Tallinn and at St. Ann’s, Portsmouth also at 10.00.

    E18 entered service in the UK in 1915 and soon began North Sea patrols with the 8th Flotilla at Harwich. On her one and only patrol prior to leaving for the Baltic E18 departed Yarmouth on 9 July 1915. On 14 July 1915 when at the mouth of the Ems, deep in enemy waters the Commanding Officer, Lt Cdr Halahan brought E18 to the surface as he preferred the sea to using the toilet arrangements on board. While in this awkward situation a Zeppelin appeared, E18 dived but was easily visible from the air. E18 was then straddled with 12 bombs which caused no damage other than some embarrassment for Halahan in being caught ‘short’.

    E18 was dispatched to the Baltic as part of the Royal Navy Submarine Flotilla to be based there. She left Harwich on 28 August with her sister-ship E19. In the Baltic E18 carried out many patrols.  She sailed on the 25th May 1916 for her 7th Baltic patrol.  On the 26th, at 4:42 PM, E18 torpedoed the German destroyer V100, blowing off her bow. Two days later, on the 28th, E18 was sighted by a German aircraft off Memel (now Klaipėda, Lithuania), E18 was last sighted on the 1 June 1916 at 1500 hrs sailing north by the German U-boat UB-30 northwest of Steinort. It is believed she was lost "most likely by striking a mine" on her return to Reval west of Osel.

    HMS E18 Wreck

    In October 2009, the wreck of HMS E18 was discovered by a ROV deployed by Swedish survey vessel MV Triad. The wreck lies off the coast of Hiiumaa, Estonia. Photographs taken of the wreck show the submarine with its hatch open, suggesting that it struck a mine while sailing on the surface.


    Website: There is a dedicated website at HMS E18 with more of the submarine's history and many good images of the wreck.

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