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North American Station
HMS Leopard vs USS Chakespeake 5835.JPG
The Chesapeake–Leopard Affair of 22 June 1807 as depicted by John Christian Schetky
Active North American Station (1745–1818)
North America and West Indies Station (1818–1926)
America and West Indies Station (1926–1956)
West Indies (1956–1976)
HMS Malabar (1976–1995)
Country United Kingdom, Bermuda, and Canada
Branch Navy
Type Naval squadron & fleet
Part of Royal Navy
Garrison/HQ Royal Naval Dockyard, Halifax &
Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda
Notable ships HMS Fame, HMS Invincible, HMS Leopard, HMS Resolute
Engagements Battle of the Chesapeake, Battle of Cape Henry, Siege of Yorktown, Battle of St. Kitts (1781–1782)
USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere, Capture of HMS Frolic, Capture of USS Chesapeake, Capture of HMS Boxer, Battle of Baltimore (1812–1814),
pursuit of SM U-53 (1916),
Battle of the Atlantic (1939–1945)
Disbanded 1 April 1976
On lookout for U-boats in the Second Battle of the Atlantic, October 1941

The North American Station was an formation of the UK's Royal Navy stationed in North American waters from 1745 until the 1950s. During some periods of 19th century the North American Station (NA) was combined with the West Indies station (WI).

The squadron was formed in 1745 to counter French forces in North America. It was based initially at Halifax Naval Yard in Nova Scotia. In 1818, its main base was moved to Bermuda which was better positioned to counter threats from the United States.[1]

Admiral Thomas Cochrane served as commander-in-chief from 1848 to 1851. Rear Admiral Sir Alexander Milne, 1st Baronet served as the commander-in-chief, NA&WI from 1860 to 1864. Up until 1899 there were separate North American and West Indies stations.

The squadron was maintained at varying strength throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In addition to the base at Bermuda, where there was a dockyard until 1951, the squadron continued to make use of the great fortified harbours that were available at Royal Naval Dockyard, Halifax - Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada - now CFB Halifax. During World War II, Canada developed Sydney, Nova Scotia as an alternate convoy port.

British ports in the Caribbean, such as Kingston, Jamaica and Port of Spain, Trinidad were available for rest, refueling, and supplies as was St. John's, Newfoundland in the far northeast, the closest port in North America to any British port in the United Kingdom.

The main role of the station was to keep the trade routes open to North America and the Caribbean. Generally, several cruisers and smaller ships were kept on this station. During war time the squadron operated in cooperation with the Royal Canadian Navy.

Other ports used were:

John 'Jacky' Fisher, then a Vice Admiral, commanded the station from 1897 to 1899.

In 1910, the Royal Navy in North American waters was replaced by the Royal Canadian Navy, and the station headquarters shifted south to Bermuda. In 1926 the appointment was redesignated Commander-in-Chief, America and West Indies, which was the title until the 1950s. The station covered the area from southern Brazil to Greenland during World War II. Its Commander-in-Chief, Vice Admiral Sir William G. Andrewes, was the initial Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic after World War II (circa 1952 and afterwards).[2] On 29 October 1956, the command became Senior Naval Officer West Indies (SNOWI), which was finally disbanded on 1 April 1976. SNOWI served as Island Commander Bermuda in the NATO chain of command, reporting to Commander-in-Chief, Western Atlantic as part of SACLANT.[3]

From around 1931-33 to at least 1939, the South American Division of the station was active, under Commodore R.H.O. Lane-Poole, O.B.E., R.N., on formation, and then Commodore Henry Harwood at the Battle of the River Plate.

For ships stationed in Canada and North America go to List of Royal Navy ships in North America.

Commanders in the 1700s

Commanders of the North American Squadron of the Royal Navy, 1759-1776[4]

  • Commodore Lord Alexander Collville, November 1759-October 1762
  • Commodore Richard Spry. October 1762-October 1763
  • Rear Admiral Lord Alexander Collville, October 1763-September 1766
  • Captain Joseph Deane, September 1766-November 1766 (Senior Captain)
  • Captain Archibald Kennedy, November 1766-July 1767 (Senior Captain)
  • Commodore Samuel Hood, July 1767-October 1770
  • Commodore James Gambier, October 1770-August 1771
  • Rear Admiral John Montagu, August 1771-June 1774
  • Vice Admiral Samuel Graves, June 1774-January 1776


  1. ^ Gwyn, Julian, Frigates and Foremasts: The North American Squadron in Nova Scotia Waters, 1745-1815 Vancouver, BC: UBC Press (2004) ISBN 9780774809115. OCLC 144078613
  2. ^ Sean M. Maloney, 'To Secure Command of the Sea: NATO Command Organization and Naval Planning for the Cold War at Sea, 1945-54,' MA thesis, University of New Brunswick, 1991, p.198 and Chapter 4 generally, and
  3. ^ UK Chiefs of Staff Committee, Command in the Caribbean, DEFE 5/188/4, January 1971, via The National Archives
  4. ^ Stout, Neil R. The Royal Navy in America, 1760-1775: A Study of Enforcement of British Colonial Policy in the Era of the American Revolution. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 1973, p.199 via Gaspee Virtual Archives: Research Notes on Admiral John Montagu

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