Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth

Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth

HMS Victory, flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth
Active 1697–1969
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  Royal Navy
Type Fleet
Garrison/HQ Fort Southwick

The Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was a senior commander of the Royal Navy for hundreds of years. Portsmouth Command was a name given to the units, establishments, and staff operating under the post.


An admiral commanding in Portsmouth has been attested as early as 1697, but the first Flag Officer who records clearly establish was responsible for Portsmouth was Rear-Admiral Sir John Moore, appointed in 1766.[1] The Command extended along the south coast from Newhaven in East Sussex to Portland in Dorset.[2] In 1889 the Commander-in-Chief took HMS Victory as his Flagship.[3]

Admiralty House, HMNB Portsmouth

In the late 18th century port admirals began to reside ashore, rather than on board their flagships; the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was provided with a large house in the High Street (formerly home to one Philip Varlo, four times Mayor of Portsmouth). In the 1830s this Admiralty House was sold to the War Office (as Government House, it went on to house the Lieutenant-Governor of Portsmouth for the next fifty years).[4] The Commander-in-Chief moved in turn into the former Dockyard Commissioner's house, which still stands within HMNB Portsmouth.[5]

During the Second World War the Command Headquarters was at Fort Southwick.[6]

In 1952 the Commander-in-Chief took up the NATO post of Commander-in-Chief, Channel (CINCHAN). This move added Allied Command Channel to the NATO Military Command Structure. The admiral commanding at Portsmouth had control naval operations in the area since 1949 under WUDO auspices.[7]

The post of Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was merged with that of Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth in 1969 to form the post of Commander-in-Chief, Naval Home Command (CINCNAVHOME).[1] The posts of Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command were amalgamated in 1994 following the rationalisation of the British Armed Forces following the end of the Cold War.[8] In 2012, however, all distinct Commander-in-Chief appointments were discontinued, with full operational command being vested instead in the First Sea Lord; he now flies his flag from HMS Victory.[9]


Commanders-in-Chief have included:[1][10][11]
Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth

Commander-in-Chief, Naval Home Command

Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief, Naval Home Command

In 2012 the appointment of separate Commanders-in-Chief was discontinued with full operational command being vested in the First Sea Lord.


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