China Station (Royal Navy)

The China Station was as one of the geographical areas of jurisdiction into which the Royal Navy divided its worldwide responsibilities. It was created in 1865 and deactivated in 1941. The senior officer appointed to command the China Station was the Commanders-in-Chief, China.

China Station
A British warship inside the Admiralty IX floating dry dock at Singapore Naval Base in September 1941
Country United Kingdom/British Empire
Branch Royal Navy
Part ofAdmiralty
Garrison/HQSingapore Naval Base (1865–1942, 1945–1971)
HMS Tamar (1865–1941, 1945–1997)
Wei Hai Wei station on Liugong Island (1898–1930)

For both strategic reasons and identifying areas of jurisdiction the Royal Navy was distributed around the world, separated into various fleets or squadrons operating from a number of regional stations, also known as commands.[1][2]


From 1831 to 1865, the East Indies Station and the China Station were a single command known as the East Indies and China Station.[3] The China Station, established in 1865, had as its area of responsibility the coasts of China and its navigable rivers, the western part of the Pacific Ocean, and the waters around the Dutch East Indies.[4] The navy often co-operated with British commercial interests in this area.

The formation had bases at Singapore (Singapore Naval Base), HMS Tamar (1865–1941 and 1945–1997) in Hong Kong and Wei Hai (at Liugong Island) (1898–1940). The China Station complement usually consisted of several older light cruisers and destroyers, and the Chinese rivers were patrolled by a flotilla of suitable, shallow-draught gunboats, referred to as "China gunboats".[5] Ships on this station usually had a distinctive livery of white hull and superstructure and dark funnels. In response to increased Japanese threats, the separate China Station was merged with the East Indies Station in December 1941 to form the Eastern Fleet.[6]

In Command

Commanders-in-Chief, China

DatesAdmiral Commanding[3][7]
1865–1867Vice-Admiral Sir George King
1867–1869Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Keppel
1869–1871Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Kellett
1871–1874Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Shadwell
1874–1877Vice-Admiral Sir Alfred Ryder
1877–1878Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Hillyar
1878–1881Vice-Admiral Robert Coote
1881–1884Vice-Admiral Sir George Willes
1884–1885Vice-Admiral Sir William Dowell
1885–1887Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Hamilton
1887–1890Vice-Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon
1890–1892Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Richards
1892–1895Vice-Admiral Sir Edmund Fremantle
1895–1897Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Buller
1897–1901Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Seymour
1901–1904Vice-Admiral Sir Cyprian Bridge
1904–1906Vice-Admiral Sir Gerard Noel
1906–1908Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Moore
1908–1910Vice-Admiral Sir Hedworth Meux
1910–1913Vice-Admiral Sir Alfred Winsloe
1913–1915Vice-Admiral Sir Martyn Jerram
1916–1917Vice-Admiral Sir William Grant
1917–1919Rear-Admiral Sir Frederick Tudor
24 July 1919 – 1922Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Duff
10 September 1922 – November 1924Admiral Sir Arthur Leveson
November 1924 – 1925Rear Admiral Sir Allan Everett
1925Rear Admiral David Anderson (acting)
22 April 1925 – 8 November 1926Vice-Admiral Sir Edwyn Alexander-Sinclair
8 November 1926 – 28 November 1928Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt
28 November 1928 – 28 February 1931Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Waistell
28 February 1931 – 11 March 1933Vice-Admiral Sir Howard Kelly
11 March 1933 – 11 January 1936Admiral Sir Frederic Dreyer
11 January 1936 – 5 February 1938Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Little
5 February 1938 – 1940Admiral Sir Percy Noble
September 1940 – November 1941Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton
November – 2 December 1941Admiral Sir Tom Phillips [8]

See also


  1. Archives, The National. "Royal Navy operations in the Second World War - The National Archives". The National Archives. London, England: The National Archives. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  2. Buchet, C., Higgie, A., & Duffy, M. (2013). APPENDIX 3: The Structure of British Naval Administration. In The British Navy, Economy and Society in the Seven Years War (p. 269). Boydell and Brewer. Retrieved from
  3. William Loney RN
  4. Royal Navy Foreign Stations
  5. HMS Falcon Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  6. The sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse
  7. Paul Bevand; Frank Allen (21 October 2007). "Commander-in-Chief, China Station". Royal Navy Fleet Officers, 1904–1945. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2008.
  8. Jackson, Ashley (2006). The British Empire and the Second World War. London, England: A&C Black. pp. 288–289. ISBN 9780826440495.
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