1906 Orders Constituting the Home Fleet (Royal Navy)
Admiralty, S.W., December 22, 1906.
MY Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty having selected you to be Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet, you are hereby appointed to the command of the said fleet as Acting Vice-Admiral from the 5th March, 1907, and are in due course to take upon you the charge and command of His Majesty's ships and vessels employed and to be employed therein. And all Captains, Commanding Officers, and Companies belonging to the said ships are hereby charged and commanded to follow such orders and directions as you shall from time to time receive from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty or any other your superior officer in His Majesty's Service.
2. You are to hoist your flag in H.M.S. “Magnificent” at Sheerness on the 5th March, 1907, from which date this order is to be regarded as taking effect, with reference to Article 1370 of the King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions.
You are to shift your flag to H.M.S. “Dreadnought” on such date as may be convenient after her return to England from the special trials which my Lords have directed to be carried out.
Your flag will usually be at Sheerness, and the Admiralty House and its offices at that port are placed at your disposal.
3. The Home Fleet which will come under your command will comprise the existing Reserve Divisions and certain battleships and armoured cruisers which are being withdrawn from the Channel, Mediterranean, and Atlantic Fleets. The numbers of vessels which will in the first instance constitute the Home Fleet, and their distribution between the three ports, are approximately as follows:—
Depôt ships and fleet auxiliaries
Special Service Vessels
Tenders to the gunnery and torpedo establishments, and the vessels (torpedo boats and smaller submarines) allocated to the local defence of the Home ports will not come under your orders.
4. This fleet will be organised, as regards the larger vessels, in three divisions, which will be based respectively at the Nore, Portsmouth, and Devonport. The Nore Division, which will be the escadre d'élite of the Home Fleet, will be subdivided into a Battleship Division and a Cruiser Division, the latter being organised as a distinct command, and constituting the Fifth Cruiser Squadron. The scouts and torpedo craft belonging to all three ports will also form a distinct command.
Five Rear-Admirals will, under your orders, command the two divisions at the Nore and those at Portsmouth and Devonport, and the torpedo craft respectively. The 48 destroyers with full crews, and with attendant scouts, depôt, and repair ships, will be placed under the immediate orders of a Commodore (D).
5. The primary object my Lords have had in view in constituting the Home Fleet is increased readiness for war, and as contributing to this end, increased sea-going efficiency of all ships in Home waters. The immediate responsibility for such readiness and efficiency will now devolve upon you as Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet, and it is their Lordships' desire that you will always keep this in view as your chief duty, submitting to them without delay and such information or suggestions bearing on these matters as you may deem it necessary to bring to their notice.
6. It is their Lordships' expectation that considerable administrative improvements will result from the organisation of the Home Fleet under your command. It has been necessary heretofore to deal separately with the distribution and arrangement of each of the existing Reserve Divisions. Moreover the position of the Rear-Admiral (D) has been somewhat anomalous, inasmuch as he has been under the orders of more than one Senior Officer. The administrative command of all these divisions and vessels being now centralised in yourself, a far better organisation should be achieved than has been possible with a divided responsibility.
7. In the matter of repairs especially my Lords hope that an improvement will result from this centralisation of the Home Fleet under your command. It will be your duty to arrange that at all times the largest number of ships practicable are ready to proceed to sea without delay and free of any serious defect, and with this object you will submit arrangements as to the dates and periods for which it is desired that ships should be taken in hand at the respective dockyards.
8. It is their Lordships' intention that the sea training of all seamen youths shall in future be carried out in the Nore Division of the Home Fleet, and that newly-entered stokers, 2nd class, who have completed the primary (six weeks) course of training in the harbour training establishments shall complete their four months' training in the vessels of the respective divisions of the Home Fleet. Seamen boys who have completed their primary training at Shotley and in the “Impregnable” will be discharged to the Nore and Devonport Divisions, respectively, of the Home Fleet to await their discharge to the Fourth Cruiser Squadron. All ratings borne as supernumeraries in the Royal Naval Barracks who are available for sea service will be embarked as supernumeraries in the respective divisions of the Home Fleet, in which they will remain until they are actually required for draft.
9. Your status, and that of the Flag Officers and vessels under your orders, will be similar to that of the Flag Officers and the vessels of the Channel and Atlantic Fleets when they visit the Home ports; that is [to] say, that for the time being they come under the command of the Senior Officer present, but that Senior Officer will not interfere with the administration and orders of yourself and your subordinates in command of the Home Fleet.
10. Nothing in these orders is to be considered as interfering with the custom of the Service in regard to you and any vessels under your command coming under the orders of the Senior Officer afloat when you or they are at any time present with the flag of such Senior Officer. In certain eventualities the Home Fleet, or any part of it, may be placed under the Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Fleet, when he is senior to yourself; and you are therefore to acquaint yourself with the intentions of that officer as regards the employment of vessels of the Home Fleet in the eventuality of their coming under his command.
11. The Home Fleet is to be organised and prepared for war in every practicable way. It is not to be regarded or described as a Reserve Fleet, and the fact that a proportion of the vessels comprised in it will not have full complements permanently on board, while necessarily limiting the time spent under way in comparison with ships of the other fleets, is not to be allowed to detract from their readiness for sea; bearing in mind that the ranks and ratings necessary to complete all of them to full complement will be at immediate call in case of emergency.
12. The cruising ground of the Home Fleet will be in Home waters and the North Sea, with occasional cruises on the Scandinavian coasts.
13. Being in independent command of the Home Fleet, you will correspond with the Admiralty direct on all matters on which you desire to do so. As regards the correspondence of the Flag Officers and vessels under your command at Portsmouth and Devonport, and of the Nore Division when at Chatham, you are to give directions that such letters as are usually forwarded to the Admiralty through the Port Admirals from ships of the Channel and Atlantic Fleets when at the Home ports are to be similarly dealt with by them, but this procedure will in no way derogate from your general administrative responsibility as Commander-in-Chief.
14. This order is to be regarded as taking effect on the 5th March, 1907.
By command of their Lordships,
- Appendices to Proceedings of a Sub-Committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence to Inquire into Certain Questions of Naval Policy Raised by Lord Charles Beresford. The National Archives. CAB 16/9B. pp. 205-207.