HMNB Portsmouth

Function and Location
– HMNB Portsmouth is one of three operating bases in the United Kingdom for the Royal Navy.
– It is located on the eastern shore of Portsmouth Harbour, north of the Solent and the Isle of Wight.
– Portsmouth Naval Base is part of the city of Portsmouth.
– It was officially known as HM Dockyard, Portsmouth, and functioned as a state-owned facility for building, repairing, and maintaining warships.
– From the 1970s, the term Naval Base began to be used for Portsmouth, acknowledging a greater focus on personnel and support elements.

Senior Personnel
– The Naval Base Commander (NBC) is Commodore John Voyce.
– The Kings Harbour Master (KHM) is the regulatory authority of the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth.
– KHM Harbour Control is based in the Semaphore Tower building.
– Shipping movements are handled by a team of admiralty pilots headed by the Chief Admiralty Pilot.
– The Second Sea Lord is based at the Henry Leach Building on Whale Island.

Based Ships
– Portsmouth naval base is home to two-thirds of the Royal Navy’s surface ships.
– Some ships, like the patrol vessels, are not based in Portsmouth but form part of the Portsmouth Flotilla.
– HMS Monmouth and HMS Montrose were planned to move to Portsmouth.
– Richmond became a Devonport ship after her refit.
– St Albans moved to Devonport in preparation for her major refit.

Historic Attractions
– Portsmouth Naval Base is home to one of the oldest surviving drydocks in the world.
– The former Block Mills were the first factory in the world to employ steam-powered machine tools for mass production.
– The Royal Naval Museum has been on the site since 1911.
– The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard allows public access to important maritime attractions like Mary Rose, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, and the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
– Boathouse 4 is an active boat building and restoration site.

– Portsmouth has been one of the main Royal Navy Dockyards or Bases throughout its history.
– The first dock on the site was constructed in 1194, and walls were added in 1212.
– The docks were used by various kings for invasions of France in the 13th and 14th centuries.
– Edward II ordered all ports on the south coast to assemble their largest vessels at Portsmouth in 1324.
– The Royal Dock-Yard at Portsmouth has a long and significant history in the defense of the British Isles.

Subtopic 1: Tudor Navy
– The first recorded dry dock in the world was built in Portsmouth by Henry VII in 1495.
– The first warship built in Portsmouth was the Sweepstake of 1497.
– Significant carracks built in Portsmouth were the Mary Rose of 1509 and Peter Pomegranate of 1510.
– The Mary Rose capsized in 1545 and was raised in 1982.
– The galleass Jennett was built in 1539 and enlarged as a galleon in 1558.

Subtopic 2: Seventeenth Century
– Naval shipbuilding at Portsmouth recommenced under the English Commonwealth.
– The first ship built was the fourth-rate frigate Portsmouth in 1650.
– A new double dry dock was built in 1656, along with a single dry dock.
– The dockyard had a rope house, storehouses, workshops, and dwellings.
– Bernard de Gomme fortified the dockyard with an earthen rampart in 1668.

Subtopic 3: Dummer’s Pioneering Engineering Works
– France posed a military threat to England, increasing the strategic importance of Portsmouth.
– A new dry dock was built in 1689 to accommodate larger ships of the line.
– Edmund Dummer designed the Great Stone Dock using brick and stone.
– Two wet docks, Lower and Upper Wet Dock, were built alongside the dry dock.
– The Upper Wet Dock was converted into a second dry dock in 1699.

Subtopic 4: Eighteenth Century
– A brick wall was built around the Dockyard between 1704 and 1712.
– Houses for senior officers, Long Row and Short Row, were built.
– The Royal Naval Academy for officer cadets was established in 1733.
– A planned programme of expansion and modernization took place from 1761 onwards.
– The Lower Wet Dock was deepened, the Great Stone Dock was rebuilt, and a new dry dock was built.

Subtopic 5: The Great Rebuilding
– The Great Basin (formerly Lower Wet Dock) was deepened in the 1760s.
– The Great Stone Dock was rebuilt, and a new dry dock (No 4 dock) was built.
– The former Upper Wet Dock was reconfigured to serve as a reservoir.
– The old wooden South Dock was replaced with a modern stone dry dock (No 1 dock).
– Shipbuilding slips and storage spaces for timber were constructed.

Subtopic 6: Ropemaking Facilities
– Nos 9, 10 & 11 storehouses were built between 1764 and 1785 on a wharf.
– A deep canal (or camber) allowed transport and merchant vessels to moor and load/unload goods.
– The camber was rebuilt in Portland stone between 1773 and 1785.
– Two brick storehouses were built on reclaimed land for sail loft and rigging store.
– The reclaimed land became known as Watering Island.

Subtopic 7: The Great Ropehouse
– The Great Ropehouse is over 1,000ft (300m) long.
– It is the sixth ropehouse to have stood on the site since 1665.
– Previous buildings were destroyed by fire in 1760 and 1770.
– The current building was gutted by fire in 1776 due to arson.
– The spinning and laying stages of ropemaking took place in the same building.