Commander-in-Chief, North Atlantic


The Vice Admiral, Gibraltar was an operational commander of the Royal Navy.[1] His subordinate units, establishments, and staff were sometimes informally known as the Flag Officer Gibraltar and North Atlantic they were charged with the administration of the RN Naval Base, Gibraltar and North Atlantic geographic area.[2] The admiral commanding's post later became the Flag Officer Gibraltar.

Vice-Admiral, Gibraltar
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Navy


At the outbreak of the Second World War the Gibraltar command was elevated to North Atlantic Command with responsibility for the sea lanes on either side of the Straits of Gibraltar. Those duties remained in place although the flag officers' mission was often unclear due to the operations of both Force H and the Western Approaches Command. It was these ambiguous boundaries of command responsibility between Gibraltar and Force H that led to confusion in the conduct of operations.[3] In his book The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean, Brown discusses this problem and the Admiralty's response: The division of responsibility between the Flag Officer North Atlantic Command (FOCNA) and the Flag Officer Force H and the Commander in Chief Mediterranean was defined as follows:[4]

F.O.C.N.A. was responsible for preventing the passage of Gibraltar Strait by all enemy vessels and by vessels of other nations as may be ordered by the Admiralty from time to time.[5]
While Force H was based on Gibraltar, F.O.C.N.A. was to call on, Flag Officer, Force H for such assistance as be necessary. Except when directed to carry out specific tasks by the Admiralty.[6]



Rank Flag Name Title Term
Admirals commanding
1 Rear-Admiral   Norman Wodehouse Rear-Admiral, Gibraltar May 1939-1 November 1939
2 Vice-Admiral   Sir Dudley North Vice-Admiral, Gibraltar 1 November 1939 – 9 December 1940
3 Vice-Admiral   Sir Frederick Edward-Collins Vice-Admiral, Gibraltar[9] 9 December 1940 – 9 September 1943
4 Vice-Admiral   Sir Harold Martin Burrough FOGMA[10] 9 September 1943–January 1945


Before 1939, there was a small force of destroyers based at Gibraltar.

Capital Ships

Squadrons and Flotillas


  • Destroyer Division 25, (assigned to 13th Destroyer Flotilla)
  • Destroyer Division 26, (assigned to 13th Destroyer Flotilla)

Submarine and Minesweepers Groups

  • 7th Anti Submarine Group
  • 92nd Minesweeping Group

Escort Groups were based at Gibraltar (although they were part of Western Approaches Command).

  • Escort Group 28
  • Escort Group 36
  • Escort Group 37
  • Escort Group 38


  1. ^ Axelrod, Alan (2007). Encyclopedia of World War II 2-Volume Set. New York: Infobase Pub. p. 402. ISBN 9780816060221.
  2. ^ Axelrod, Alan; Kingston, Jack A. (2007). Encyclopedia of World War II. New York: H W Fowler. p. 402. ISBN 9780816060221.
  3. ^ Watson, Graham. "GIBRALTAR/NORTH ATLANTIC COMMAND 1939–1945". Naval History.Net, 19 September 2015. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  4. ^ Brown, David (2002). The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean: Vol.II: November 1940-December 1941. London: Routledge. p. 41. ISBN 9781136341205.
  5. ^ Brown, David (2002). The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean: Vol.II: November 1940–December 1941. London: Routledge. p. 41. ISBN 9781136341205.
  6. ^ Brown, with an introduction by David (2002). The Royal Navy and the Mediterranean. London: Whitehall History Pub. in association with Frank Cass. p. 42. ISBN 9781136341205.
  7. ^ Brown, David (2005). The Road to Oran: Anglo-French Naval Relations, September 1939–July 1940. Routledge. ISBN 978-0714654614.
  8. ^ Smith, Donald A. Bertke ; Don Kindell ; Gordon (2009). World War II sea war (1. ed.). Dayton, Ohio: Bertke Publ. p. 202. ISBN 9781937470012.
  9. ^ Cunningham Papers, p80
  10. ^ Whitby, Michael (2006). Commanding Canadians: The Second World War Diaries of A.F.C. Layard. UBC Press. p. 362. ISBN 978-0774811941.



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