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Royal Navy post-World War 2

CHRONOLOGY, Part 1 - 1946-50

by Geoffrey B Mason, Lieutenant Commander, RN (Rtd) (c) 2007

Fast Anti-Submarine Frigate HMS Rocket, destroyer conversion - see Ships 1949 (Navy Photos, click to enlarge) on to Part 2 - 1951-60



Information for the years 1946 to 1970 is shown under separate headings:


Admiralty and later MOD administration.





Naval Aviation

Home Station

Foreign Stations


It should be noted that in some cases, particularly those relating to individual ships, details may be shown in the Ships Section or recorded in the Home or Foreign Stations Sections. Similarly some items relating to Administration may be also shown in the Officers or Ratings Sections.


The implementation of some decisions may not have been carried out in the same year of first promulgation.


Information has been extracted from Annual Indices of the TIMES newspaper and from periodicals such as THE NAVY and NAVY NEWS (after 1954). Other sources include THE DECLINE AND FALL OF BRITISH SEA POWER by James Western and Fleet Orders/DCI’s.



Items marked with a star (*) were the subject of articles in NAVY NEWS or given special attention in other publications during the year under review.



(for more ship information, go to Naval History Homepage and type name in Site Search)




1 9 4 6


HMS Victorious (Maritime Quest)





Over 800 major warships and auxiliaries in commission.


840 ships deleted from List and orders for another 727 cancelled.


Vote “A” strength 492,800. Total manpower to be cut to 192,665.


Significant imbalance of personnel due to the large number of ‘Hostilities Only’ personnel leaving service.


Equable discharge system difficult to implement, especially for those overseas.


New pay code introduced, anomalies met by payment of ’War Excess’ Allowance.


Payment of prize money abolished and salvage awards substituted.


Post-War RNVR Divisions established at London, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bristol, Southampton, Shoreham, Hull, Glasgow and Belfast, with East Scotland Division replaced by Forth and Tay Divisions.


Following the MIDDLETON Report. Electrical Branch introduced. To include some Torpedo Branch and Telegraphist Branch personnel with all Radio Mechanics


Transfer of officers began including RNVR Special Branch and Warrant Officers.





Redundancies introduced at short notice.





All Hostilities Only personnel to be discharged by 1949.


Instances of Indiscipline due to delays in demobilisation.





Extensive use of aircraft carriers for trooping duties.


HMS VICTORIOUS carried war brides to Australia and elsewhere.


Some captured E-Boats and submarines taken into use for trials.


HMS EAGLE launched.


Backlog of ships overdue for refit.





Deployed in Dockyards to supplement power supplies.



Naval Aviation


Fleet Air Arm renamed Naval Aviation.


Landing trials of jet aircraft in hand.



Home Station


HMS CERES commissioned at Wetherby, Yorkshire to replace school at Highgate, London for Supply Branch training


HMS THUNDERER commissioned at RNEC Manadon. Plymouth Keyham still to be used and RNB for accommodation


Operation DEADLIGHT – sinking of German U-boats completed.


20,000 mines swept involving use of 513 British minesweepers of which three were lost.


Fishery Protection Squadron reconstituted and included one sloop and seven ALGERINE class minesweepers.


Hydrographic Survey work reverted to peacetime requirements.



Foreign Stations


Albanian shore batteries fired on ships in Corfu Channel. HM Destroyers SAUMAREZ (right - Navy Photos) and VOLAGE mined in Corfu Channel. HMS SAUMAREZ had to be scrapped.


Palestine Patrol established in Mediterranean to prevent immigration into Palestine.


US atomic weapon tests carried out at Bikini in Pacific.


Naval deployments made in Greece because of local political unrest.


HMS TAMAR replaced HM Frigate AIRE and commissioned at Hong Kong as Base Depot. HMS AIRE lost after grounding on Bombay Reef of Hainan when on passage to UK with HMS BONAVENTURE.


Hong Kong administration handed over to civil authorities.


HM Tug ENTICER lost when going to assist Swedish mercantile in South China Sea.






1 9 4 7





35,000 Ratings conscripted before May 1945 remained waiting for release


75,000 Ratings were serving on Hostilities Only Engagements


Manpower to be reduced to 192,855 from 592,000


Five year refitting programme commenced


New ship preservation methods using plastic coating introduced for ships held in Reserve


Intended use of HMS HOTHAM (US Built CAPTAIN Class Frigate on Land-Lease) for development of gas turbine propulsion machinery not started


Slow progress of ship-born guided missile (SEASLUG) development.


Improvements in standard of shore accommodation delayed.


First Warrant Electrical Officer (Radio) promoted





HMS VANGUARD (right - Navy Photos) embarked Royal Family for South African tour.


HM Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier TRIUMPH visited Kronstadt and HM Cruiser LIVERPOOL went to Sevastopol.


HM King George VI reviewed the Fleet in the Clyde.


RFA BULAWAYO (Ex-German tanker NORDMARK) used for 'Alongside Replenishment' Trials (RAS)





First RN trials of Schnorkel carried out by HM Submarine ALLIANCE.


Submarines still being used to provide power in dockyards.



Naval Aviation


Total manpower 182,560, excluding 10,000 WRNS and nurses.



Home Station


Number of minesweepers deployed for minesweeping reduced to 65 ships. 246 mines swept.


German fortress in Heligoland destroyed.


Training establishment HMS ROYAL ARTHUR at Skegness moved to Corsham, Wiltshire for New Entry training and for use as Petty Officers Leadership School.


HMS INDUS Mechanical Training Establishment (MTE) at Devonport moved to Portsmouth Naval Base.


At Londonderry HMS FERRET renamed HMS SEA EAGLE. Commissioned on 30th January and first used for anti-submarine training in June 1947. Became Joint Service Establishment for anti-submarine training.



Foreign Stations


Store Depots and dock installations at Alexandria handed back to Egyptian government.


British Pacific Fleet Base at Sydney, Australia transferred to Singapore.





1 9 4 8





Electrical Branch Ratings structure introduced.


Tobacco users to be certified.


Areas of complaints raised:


Accommodation afloat and ashore

Overcrowding due to extra complements.

Clothing standard

General messing,

Lack of refrigerators

Lack of air conditioning,

Poor galley facilities

Poor bathroom facilities


Extensive shortage of trained manpower due to demobilisation.


Vote "A" strength now 167,300.


Extensive reductions made to strength of Fleet in Home Waters, Mediterranean and West Indies.


Hydrographic Department produced Radio Navigation Charts suitable for use with new DECCA System.


National Oceanographic Institute established.


No battleship in Full Commission but two in use for training duties with reduced complement.


H M Battleships NELSON, RODNEY, QUEEN ELIZABETH, VALIANT and H M Battlecruiser RENOWN to be scrapped.


Reports of Russian submarine strength not confirmed in Parliamentary question.


Home Dockyards undertook some commercial work.





Warrant Rank abolished


Commissioned Warrant Officers and Warrant Officers ranks to be renamed Senior Commissioned Officers and Commissioned Officers, collectively to be known as Branch Rank Officers.


Warrant Officers Mess to be abolished and officers to join Wardroom Messes.


Midshipman entry to be at 16 years instead of 13 years.


Period at RN College, Dartmouth reduced from 4 to 2 years.


Anticipated that 29% of officers will be ex-ratings by 1950.


National Service intake reduced to 2,000


Clearance Diver Branch formed.





Boy ratings to be allowed in frigates in lieu of Seamen. To be part of complement in BAY Class Frigates.


Introduction of new Electrical Branch in 1947 revealed serious shortage of electrical, weapon and radio maintenance personnel due to loss of "Hostilities Only" ratings and by senior ratings leaving the service on completion of regular engagements.





Diving Support Ship HMS RECLAIM established a Deep Diving Record of 535 feet.


Four BATTLE Class and three WEAPON Class destroyers completed.


HM Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier CENTAUR launched but completion delayed


HM Survey Ship DAMPIER (ex-BAY Class Frigate, ex-HMS HERNE BAY, ex-LOCH EIL, right - Navy Photos) entered Hydrographic service.


Generic term Frigate to be used for all types of escorts, including corvettes.


Test carried out using commercial GATRIC gas turbine propulsion machinery In HM MTB.509. Aluminium to be used in construction of future MTBs.


335 RN warships sold to foreign or Commonwealth navies since 1945.





HMS AMBUSH carried out Schnorkel trials.


HMS SERAPH streamlined to act as 'Fast' underwater target.


Midget submarine trials carried out using ex-German craft



Naval Aviation


HM Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier VENGEANCE carried out cold weather trials in Arctic. Commercial helicopters were embarked.



Home Station


HMS WILDFIRE at Sheerness still in use for training of Seaman Radar ratings


Seaward Defence title Introduced for shore defence.


RAF aircraft carried out simulated nuclear attack on Home Fleet ships at second attempt


HM Destroyer VIRAGO carried cut trials on new inflatable life raft.


Naval parties assisted in rescue work and removal of flood water in eastern Counties of UK.


All practicable sweeping of moored mines in NE European waters completed.


Extensive work undertaken by Hydrographic Service.



Foreign Stations


Red Sea and Indian Ocean mine clearance still in hand.


Admiralty Fleet Order 4162/18 promulgated loss of the East Indies Station Colour. Last known sighting was in September 1939 when handed over by HM Cruiser GLOUCESTER to a commercial Bank for safe keeping.


Extensive deployment of Mediterranean Fleet ships for Palestine Patrol duties. Among the 40 ships intercepted in 1947was the American mercantile PRESIDENT WARFIELD.


HMS CHALLENGER, HMS COCKADE and HMS CONTEST landed parties at Aden after civil disturbances.


HMS COCKADE assisted in the arrest of a dissident Group in Solomons


HMS LOCH QUOICHE deployed at Mogadiscio/Mogadishu, Somalia after civil unrest.


HMS NIGERIA and HMS SNIPE exchanged protests with Argentine warships in Antarctica.


Red Sea patrols carried out in Red Sea to intercept slave traffic






1 9 4 9





Royal Navy Volunteer Wireless Reserve (RNVWR) reformed.


RAF craft known as HMAFV introduced in Admiralty Fleet Order 144/49 to be given names of aircraft.


Names of seagoing Tenders for RNVR Divisions promulgated.





Warrant Rank Title abolished from 5 April 1949.


100 RNVR officers given RN Commissions and 500 allowed an extension of 4 years service.


RNVR recruiting ceiling increased to 7,000.


New Dartmouth Entry of 29 was made from 514 applications.





National Servicemen retained for extra 3 months because of Far East crisis. Totals Increased to 10,000.


New 'Youth Entry' Scheme introduced.


Number of promotion opportunities to commissioned Rank criticised in Parliament.


National Service Ratings required to serve in RNVR.


Low re-engagement of ratings completing 12 years service.


Out of 1,600 applications for Discharge by Purchase 1,000 were approved.


Marriage Allowance increased.





Refits for ships held in Reserve Ship to be undertaken in commercial shipyards.


HM Cruiser SHEFFIELD (right - Navy Photos) took troops to Belize because of threat from Guatemala.


HM Sloop SPARROW trapped in Ice in Antarctica.


USSR returned some ships loaned in 1944.


HM Battleship VANGUARD reduced to training role.


HM Aircraft Carrier IMPLACABLE replaced HM Battleship HOWE as Home Fleet Flagship.


HM Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier BULWARK launched but completion deferred.


HM Escort Aircraft Carrier CAMPANIA to be used as a mobile exhibition during Festival of Britain, under Red Ensign.


HM Destroyers ROCKET and RELENTLESS to be converted for use as anti-submarine frigates.


Future conversion of fleet destroyers into anti-submarine frigates (Types 15 and 16) planned.


HM Cruiser ARETHUSA used for nuclear radiation trial.


HM Cruiser DEVONSHIRE to be used as Cadet Training Ship.


HM Light Fleet Aircraft Carrier VENERABLE sold to Netherlands and renamed KARL VAN DOORMAN.


HM Cruiser ACHILLES sold to India and renamed IS DEHLI.


HM Aircraft Carrier TERRIBLE joined Royal Australian Navy and renamed HMAS SYDNEY.


HM Cruiser AURORA sold to China.



Naval Aviation


SEA VAMPIRE jet propelled aircraft trails carried out in HMS IMPLACABLE and HMS WARRIOR.


"A" identity in the Executive Curl worn by aircrew officers removed from uniforms. In future these officers are to be Specialists within Seaman Branch (eg Communications Branch officers.) All future aircrew to be officers. TAG branch not to be replaced. Air Engineering Officers and Air Electrical Officers to be part of (E) and (L) Branch.



Home Station


First Western European Union naval exercises held.


NATO Treaty ratified.


Defence School, HMS PHOENIX, opened at Stamshaw, Portsmouth.


HM Destroyer OPPORTUNE and HM Minesweeper WAVE rescued survivors from coaster CYDONIA  which had been mined in Cardigan Bay.


HM Minesweeper ROMOLA rescued crew of trawler MILDENHALL off north Russia.


HM Aircraft Carrier ILLUSTRIOUS liberty boat on passage to Portland sank in Weymouth Bay with 29 dead or missing. Albert Medal awarded to Boy Seaman for rescue.


Training Ship IMPLACABLE disposed of by sinking off Owers Light after long service (ex-French DUGUAY TROUIN captured in 1805.)



Foreign Stations


Presentation of British awards to US citizens for services during WW2 whilst with British armed services, made on board Frigate BURGHEAD BAY at New Orleans


Similar awards to New Zealand nationals promulgated in Admiralty Fleet Orders 3999/49 and 31/8/48.


HM Frigate AMETHYST trapped and damaged in Yangtse River by Chinese Communists shore fire and broke

out to sea successfully.


Deployments were made to counter any threat when Communists won civil war in China.


Chinese Nationalists began blockade of Shanghai.


HM Destroyer COSSACK rescued some passengers from Chinese mercantile as YINCHUNG off Formosa.


HM Destroyer CONCORD and HM Sloop ALACRITY unable to help British flagged mercantile WOO SANS seized off Formosa by Chinese Nationalists.


HM Sloop BLACK SWAN unable to intervene when British mercantile SS ANCHISES was bombed off China.


Naval gunfire support provided to assist military operations in Malaya against insurgents.






1 9 5 0





Reserve Fleet Divisions formed at Portsmouth, Devonport, Chatham, Sheerness, Harwich and Clyde.


RNVR recruiting ceiling increased to 9,000.


Naval Weather Service established as a separate Department of Admiralty.


Pay increases announced.


Legal Aid to be provided from public funds for those facing court martial.


Installation of air conditioning in Sick Bays in hand.


Ship habitability improvements being progressed.


83 Courts Martial held.




New Entry age for Dartmouth not proving to be successful due to lack of suitable candidates.


Upper Yardmen to be trained at Dartmouth.


Twenty five percent of officers being drawn from Lower Deck as Upper Yardmen or Branch List Officers.


Total manpower including WRNS and Nurses 143,000.


3,600 National servicemen retained for further six months due to Korean Emergency.


Uniform for Dartmouth Cadets to be provided free and tuition fees abolished.




Five and 6 year extension of service after completing time for pension introduced.


Increase in availability of married quarters forecast.


Free sea passages for dependants of those serving on Foreign Stations introduced.


Provision of air passage to UK for compassionate leave introduced.


Compulsory attendance for Church services abolished.


Living conditions in RN Barracks to be improved.


 'Free Gangway' introduced in all shore establishments.


Improvements made to the composition of Welfare Committees in ships and shore establishments


Rate of re-engagements to complete service for pension unsatisfactory.


Television sets being provided in RN Barracks, paid for by Welfare Funds.


Senior ratings not required to wear uniform when off duty and when going ashore.


Free issue of sheets made to ratings serving overseas.




HM Aircraft Carrier ARK ROYAL launched.


HM Aircraft Carrier VICTORIOUS to be modernised.


HM Aircraft Carrier INDEFATIGABLE to be brought out of Reserve


HM Fleet Minesweeper TRUELOVE carried out clothing and equipment trials in Arctic conditions.


HM SGB GREY GOOSE and HM Destroyer HOTHAM to be used for gas turbine propulsion machinery trials. (Planned trials in HMS HOTHAM were later cancelled in 1952)


HM Survey Ship VIDAL of new design launched in HM Dockyard Chatham.


Significant RN deployments made with UN Task Forces off Korea.


89 ships to be refitted and brought forward for service to supplement future Fleet needs.




HM Aircraft Carrier MAJESTIC construction to be resumed and ship transferred to RAN and renamed HMAS MELBOURNE.


TON class coastal minesweeper build programme began.


Contract placed with Y-ARD in Glasgow to investigate design of future propulsion machinery. (Y-ARD – a new commercial company combining facilities of Yarrow Shipbuilders and the Admiralty Research Division.)


Hull of HM Destroyer ALBUERA used for structural tests by the Admiralty Naval Construction and Research Department (NCRE) at Rosyth.




Three RN "T" Class submarines based at Sydney, Australia for working with RAN.


Modernisation of "T" Class submarines commenced.


Experiments using HTP propulsion carried out in HM Submarine METEORITE.



Naval Aviation


Aviation Cadet Scheme introduced to encourage recruitment of aircrew.


Need to recognise requirements of anti-submarine warfare recognised as first priority by 5th Sea Lord.


Flight decks to be strengthened to operate new design aircraft.


Future use of steam catapult and vertical take-off aircraft forecast.


Home Station


Closure of HMS COCHRANE at Rosyth projected.


HMS ROYAL ARTHUR at Corsham ceased to be used for New Entry training of National Service ratings.


Royal Marine's School of Music returned to Deal after wartime dispersal to Burford, Oxon.


HMS VANGUARD became Flagship, Home Fleet.


Foreign Stations


Korean War started and RN warships joined US Navy Task Force for service under USN overall command for duties of east coast of Korea.


Personnel due to leave RN retained and some Reservists Called-up.


Seven fleet destroyers In Mediterranean Fleet replaced by anti-submarine frigates.


HM Dockyard Bermuda closed.


Naval support still required for military operations against Malayan insurgents.


 on to Part 2 - 1951-60
or back to Contents List

revised 10/7/11