HMS Excellent (shore establishment)

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Aerial photograph of Portsmouth Dockyard taken during a Photex, taken from 2,000 feet. MOD 45144949.jpg
HMS Excellent on Whale Island: the original red-brick barracks complex is on the left; much of it, along with the 1960s Edgar Evans block, has been demolished since this photo was taken (2005).[1] Navy Command HQ and HMS Bristol are on the right.
History
Royal Navy EnsignUnited Kingdom
Name: HMS Excellent
Commissioned: 1869
Status: Active
General characteristics
Class and type: Stone frigate

HMS Excellent is a Royal Navy "stone frigate" (shore establishment) sited on Whale Island near Portsmouth in Hampshire. HMS Excellent is itself part of the Maritime Warfare School, with a Headquarters at HMS Collingwood, although a number of lodger units are resident within the site, the principal of which is the Headquarters of Fleet Commander (Navy Command Headquarters).

History[edit]

Whaley (later Whale) Island in 1833

RN Gunnery School afloat[edit]

In the 1829 a Commander George Smith advocated the establishment of a Naval School of Gunnery; accordingly, the following year, the third-rate HMS Excellent was converted into a training ship and moored just north of Portsmouth Dockyard, opposite Fareham Creek.[2] Smith was given oversight and set up Excellent not only as a training establishment but also as a platform for experimental firing of new weapons (the creek was used as a firing range). In 1832 Smith was replaced in command by Captain Thomas Hastings, under whom the school grew both numerically and in reputation, as trained gunners began to prove their effectiveness in combat situations. In 1834 the original Excellent was replaced by the second rate HMS Boyne which was duly renamed Excellent.[3]

In 1845 Captain Henry Ducie Chads took over command of Excellent in succession to Hastings. He remained in post until 1854, by which time the Admiralty had purchased 'Whaley Island' (which at the time was little more than a sandbank). Chads was succeeded first by Captain Thomas Maitland and then, in 1857, by Richard Hewlett. In December 1859 the first-rate Queen Charlotte took over the role of gunnery training ship and was likewise renamed Excellent.[4]

In 1863 Hewlett was replaced by Captain Astley Cooper Key, who was in turn succeeded by Captain Arthur Hood some three years later. By this time, a rifle range had been established on the island for the use of HMS Excellent and the first building appeared there, the land having been somewhat drained and levelled. Under Hood's leadership a torpedo section was set up within the school; overseen by Commander Jacky Fisher (who would later return to Excellent as commanding officer), this was made a separate establishment, as HMS Vernon, in 1876.[5]

RN Gunnery School ashore[edit]

Whale Island in 1945

It was under Fisher's command, in the 1880s, that approval was given to move the gunnery school ashore, on to Whale Island. The initial proposal had come from a Lieutenant Percy Scott, who (having arrived to train as a gunnery lieutenant in 1878) initially used the island as a running track. The island had grown significantly in size since the 1850s: indeed, up until the early 1890s excavated spoil from the expansion of the Dockyard was routinely conveyed there, using convict labour, to build the island up. Scott returned to Excellent as an instructor in 1883 and took the opportunity to submit a detailed proposal to Fisher which was accepted. (Later in his career Scott was again posted to HMS Excellent on two occasions, returning first as Commander in 1890 and then as Captain of the establishment in the early 1900s.)[6]

The first buildings of the shore establishment were begun in 1885 (including what is now known as the Quarterdeck Block)[7] and building work then continued alongside the tasks of draining and levelling the land (the site was known colloquially as 'Mud Island').[8] By 1891 the whole operation had moved ashore and the old ship was paid off. Centred on a large open drill ground, the site includes the officers' mess in a range to the north with rows of barracks blocks for ratings (demolished and rebuilt c. 2010) arrayed behind. To the west, opposite the Quarterdeck, were long gun battery sheds; the long low drill shed to the south is a listed building (1892).[9] Firing training took place on the batteries and all different varieties of guns were kept on site for instruction on their maintenance and operation. Later, full-sized dummy gun turrets were provided for training purposes. Seagoing training also took place up until 1957 on a series of battleships, cruisers and destroyers that were attached to the facility. From the late 1950s guided missile training was also provided.[8]

The Portsmouth Field Gun Crew, competing in the Royal Navy field gun competition at the Royal Tournament, used to be based at the site.[10] A small museum in the Quarterdeck block preserves artefacts from Excellent's days as a gunnery school; among them is the state gun carriage which is drawn by naval ratings at state funerals of monarchs and other distinguished UK citizens.[11]

Decommissioning and recommissioning[edit]

The Royal Navy's Fire Fighting Training Unit has been based at the northern tip of Whale Island since the 1990s.

The gunnery school closed in 1985 whereupon HMS Excellent was decommissioned. The site then became part of HMS Nelson.[10]

The establishment was recommissioned as HMS Excellent in 1994 following the closure of the old HMS Phoenix in nearby Tipner and Horsea Island, and the relocation of the school of Fire Fighting and Damage Control from there to Whale Island.[10]

Captains of HMS Excellent[edit]

The following list goes as far as 1984. It shows the date of appointment, and rank and decorations held at the time. In some cases a captain held several sequential appointments. It does not show captains held on the books of the Excellent who were not commanding officers of Excellent.

Name Date of appointment Sources
Commander George Smith 1830 [12]
Captain Sir Thomas Hastings 13 April 1832 [12] [13] [14]
Captain Sir Thomas Hastings, Kt 2 December 1834 [12] [15]
Captain Sir Thomas Hastings, Kt 3 June 1842 [12] [16] [17]
Captain Henry D. Chads 28 August 1845 [12] [18]
Captain Henry D. Chads, KB 1 July 1847 [12] [19]
Captain Henry D. Chads, KB 1 July 1851 [12] [20]
Captain Sir Thomas Maitland, KB 17 January 1854 [12] [21]
Captain Richard S. Hewlett, CB 29 June 1857 [12] [22]
Captain Richard S. Hewlett, CB 31 December 1859 [12] [23]
Captain Astley C. Key, CB 30 June 1863 [12] [24]
Captain Astley C. Key, CB 1 January 1866 [12] [25]
Captain Arthur W.A. Hood 3 September 1866 [12] [26]
Captain Henry Boys 13 July 1869 [12] [27]
Captain Thomas Brandreth 18 May 1874 [12] [28] [29] [30]
Captain Frederick A. Herbert 1 January 1877 [12] [31]
Captain John O. Hopkins 4 March 1880 [12] [32]
Captain William Codrington, CB, AdC 21 June 1881 [12] [33]
Captain John A. Fisher, CB 6 April 1883 [12] [34]
Captain Compton E. Domvile, AdC 1 November 1886 [12] [35]
Captain Hugo L. Pearson, ADC 12 June 1890 [12] [36]
Captain Lewis A. Beaumont 12 June 1893 [12] [37]
Captain Archibald L. Douglas 3 July 1894 [12] [38]
Captain Edmund F. Jeffreys 9 November 1895 [12] [39]
Captain William H. May, MVO 10 August 1897 [12] [40]
Captain Arthur Barrow, AdC 21 November 1900 [12] [41]
Captain Percy M. Scott, CVO, CS, LL.D, AdC 1 April 1903 [12] [42]
Captain Frederick T. Hamilton, MVO, AdC 6 March 1905 [12] [43]
Captain Reginald G.O. Tupper, AdC. 15 July 1907 [12] [44]
Captain Frederick C.T. Tudor, AdC. 18 August 1910 [12] [45]
Captain Morgan Singer, AdC. 1 June 1912 [12] [46]
Captain Cole C. Fowler 19 August 1914 [12] [47]
Captain H. Ralf Crooke 23 May 1917 [12] [48]
Captain Robert N. Bax CB 13 June 1918 [12] [49]
Captain Francis H. Mitchell DSO 13 June 1920 [12] [50]
Captain Arthur J. Davies 18 August 1922 [12] [51]
Captain Hon M.R. Best DSO MVO 15 August 1924 [12] [52]
Captain F.L. Tottenham CBE 14 August 1926 [12] [53]
Captain C.A. Scott 20 August 1928 [12] [54]
Captain G.C.C. Royle CMG 7 May 1930 [12] [55]
Captain E.O.B.S. Osborne DSO ADC 26 July 1932 [12] [56]
Captain A.F. Pridham 18 July 1933 [12] [57]
Captain Arthur J. Power CVO 3 October 1935 [12] [58] [59]
Captain H.M. Burrough 20 September 1937 [12] [60]
Captain A.F.E. Palliser DSC 19 December 1938 [12] [61]
Captain Eric J.P. Brind 15 May 1940 [12] [62]
Captain Oliver Bevir 28 November 1940 [12] [63] [64] [65]
Captain H.A. Packer 15 June 1941 [12] [66]
Captain R.D. Oliver CB DSC 15 January 1943 [12] [67]
Captain W.G. Agnew CB DSO 23 February 1944 [12] [68]
Captain W.R. Slayter CB DSO DSC 3 September 1945 [12] [69]
Captain P.V. McLaughlin DSO 7 January 1947 [12] [70]
Captain S.H. Carlill DSO 5 January 1949 [12] [71]
Captain R.F. Elkins OBE 11 April 1950 [12] [72] [73]
Captain Varyl C. Begg DSC 12 April 1952 [12] [74] [75]
Captain A. Davies 1954 [12]
Captain W.F.H.C. Rutherford DSO 11 March 1954 [12] [76]
Captain R. Casement OBE 2 January 1956 [12] [77]
Captain H.C. Martell CBE 21 January 1958 [12] [78]
Captain J.S. Dalglish CVO 7 September 1959 [12] [79]
Captain John G. Wells DSC 3 August 1961 [12] [80]
Captain H.H. Dannreuther 8 February 1963 [12] [81] [82]
Captain Arthur M. Power MBE 15 October 1964 [12] [83]
Captain W.J.M. Teale 31 August 1966 [12] [84]
Captain G.R. Villar DSC 10 January 1969 [12] [85]
Captain P.D. Nichol 11 November 1970 [12] [86]
Captain R.S. Falconer 18 September 1972 [12] [87]
Captain M.C.M. Mansergh 28 October 1974 [12] [88]
Captain Peter Lucas 15 October 1976 [12] [89]
Captain Richard K.S. Bethell OBE 10 October 1978 [12] [90]
Captain J.J. Streatfield-James 1980? [91]
Captain J.T. Lord CBE 1982? [92] [93] [94]

Elements within the site[edit]

HMS Bristol alongside Whale Island
HMS Bristol alongside Whale Island.

Maritime Warfare School elements within the site are:[95]

HMS Excellent also provides administrative and infrastructure support to the Maritime Warfare School elements at Defence Diving School, Horsea Island, and small arms ranges at Tipner.

Lodger units[edit]

HMS King Alfred on the right of the picture, with Naval Command HQ on the left

Lodger units are:

Coordinates: 50°49′09″N 1°05′48.5″W / 50.81917°N 1.096806°W / 50.81917; -1.096806

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Edgar Evans building demolished on Whale Island". The News. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  2. ^ Lavery, Ships of the Line, vol. 1, p. 180
  3. ^ Lavery, Ships of the Line, vol. 1, p. 183
  4. ^ Lavery, Ships of the Line, vol. 1, p. 187
  5. ^ "HMS Vernon". Retrieved 7 April 2017.
  6. ^ Scott, Percy (1919). Fifty Years in the Royal Navy. London: John Murray. p. 178.
  7. ^ "Listed building description". Historic England. Retrieved 28 August 2016.
  8. ^ a b Brown, Paul (2016). Maritime Portsmouth. Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press.
  9. ^ "Listed building description". Historic England. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  10. ^ a b c "History". Royal Navy. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  11. ^ RNSC(4)11 postal cover "20th Anniversary of Sir Winston Churchill's Funeral", 30 January 1985.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br Wells, John G (1980), Whaley, the story of HMS Excellent 1830 to 1980, HMS Excellent, Portsmouth, p. 213
  13. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th March 1833, p. 71
  14. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th June 1832, p. 68
  15. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th March 1842, p. 71
  16. ^ Navy List for October 1844, p. 71
  17. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th September 1842, p. 71
  18. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th December 1846, p. 123
  19. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th March 1851, p. 137
  20. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th June 1853, p. 147
  21. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th December 1856, p. 150
  22. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th December 1858, p. 153
  23. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th June 1862, p. 172
  24. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th December 1864, p. 185
  25. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th June 1866, p. 186
  26. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th June 1868, p. 194
  27. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th December 1873, p. 149
  28. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th September 1876, p. 144
  29. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th June 1876, p. 144
  30. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th June 1874, p. 144
  31. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th December 1879, p. 210
  32. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th December 1880, p. 210
  33. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th March 1883, p. 210
  34. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th June 1886, p. 253
  35. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th December 1889, p. 246
  36. ^ Navy List corrected to the 20th December 1892, p. 219
  37. ^ Navy List corrected to the 18th December 1893, p. 218
  38. ^ Navy List corrected to the 18th June 1895, p. 222
  39. ^ Navy List corrected to the 18th June 1897, p. 222
  40. ^ Navy List corrected to the 18th October 1900, p. 254
  41. ^ Navy List for November 1902, corrected to the 18th October 1902, p. 258
  42. ^ Navy List for July 1904, corrected to the 18th June 1904, p. 309
  43. ^ Navy List for January 1907, corrected to the 18th December 1906, p. 310
  44. ^ Navy List for June 1910, corrected to the 18th May 1910, p. 311
  45. ^ Navy List for March 1912, corrected to the 18th February 1912, p. 309
  46. ^ Navy List for December 1913, corrected to the 18th November 1913, p. 311
  47. ^ Navy List 1917 Pt.1a, p. 394i
  48. ^ Navy List 1918 Pt.1a, p. 791
  49. ^ Navy List for December 1919, corrected to the 18th November 1919, p. 772
  50. ^ Navy List for December 1920, corrected to the 18th November 1920, p. 771
  51. ^ Navy List for December 1922, corrected to the 18th November 1922, p. 756
  52. ^ Navy List for December 1924, corrected to the 18th November 1924, p. 238
  53. ^ Navy List for December 1926, corrected to the 18th November 1926, p. 238
  54. ^ Navy List for December 1928, corrected to the 18th November 1928, p. 238
  55. ^ Navy List for December 1930, corrected to the 18th November 1930, p. 238
  56. ^ Navy List for December 1932, corrected to the 18th November 1932, p. 237
  57. ^ Navy List for December 1934, corrected to the 18th November 1934, p. 239
  58. ^ Navy List for December 1936, corrected to the 18th November 1936, p. 237
  59. ^ Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945, B.C.G. Place to W.L. Puxley
  60. ^ Navy List for December 1938, corrected to the 18th November 1938, p. 240
  61. ^ Navy List for December 1939, corrected to the 18th November 1939, p. 631
  62. ^ Navy List for June 1940, corrected to the 18th May 1940, p. 795
  63. ^ Navy List for December 1940, corrected to the 18th November 1940, p. 973
  64. ^ Navy List for April 1941, corrected to the 18th March 1941, p. 1089
  65. ^ Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945, J.S. Bethell to J.A.F. Blight
  66. ^ Navy List for December 1941, corrected to the 18th November 1941, p. 1321
  67. ^ Navy List for December 1943, corrected to the 18th November 1943, p. 2245
  68. ^ Navy List for January 1945, Volume III, H.M. Ships and Establishments, Civil Officers, ETC. Corrected to 30th December 1944, p. 2605
  69. ^ Navy List for October 1946, corrected to the 30th September 1946, 3, p. 1959
  70. ^ Navy List for July 1948, corrected to the 17th July 1948, p. 1099
  71. ^ Navy List for May 1949, corrected to the 18th April 1949, p. 466
  72. ^ Navy List for May 1950, corrected to the 18th April 1950, p. 406
  73. ^ Navy List for May 1951, corrected to the 18th April 1951, p. 417
  74. ^ Navy List for May 1952, corrected to the 18th April 1952, p. 455
  75. ^ Navy List for May 1953, corrected to the 18th April 1953, p. 478
  76. ^ Navy List for 1955, corrected to the 18th January 1955, p. 530
  77. ^ Navy List for 1957, corrected to the 18th January 1957, p. 327
  78. ^ Navy List for 1959, corrected to the 18th January 1959, p. 328
  79. ^ Navy List for 1961, corrected to the 18th January 1961, p. 326
  80. ^ Navy List for Spring 1962, p. 325
  81. ^ Navy List for Spring 1964, p. 212
  82. ^ Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945, J.R.H. D'Aeth to W.W. Davis
  83. ^ Navy List for Spring 1965, p. 603
  84. ^ Navy List for Spring 1967, p. 549
  85. ^ Navy List for Spring 1970, p. 155
  86. ^ Navy List for Spring 1971, p. 151
  87. ^ Navy List for Spring 1973, p. 150
  88. ^ Navy List for Spring 1975, p. 146
  89. ^ Navy List 1977, p. 142
  90. ^ Navy List for 1981, corrected to the 31st October 1980, p. 136
  91. ^ Navy List for 1982, corrected to the 31st October 1981, p. 135
  92. ^ Navy List for 1983, corrected to the 31st October 1982, p. 272
  93. ^ Navy List for 1984, corrected to the 31st October 1983, p. 277
  94. ^ Navy List for 1985, corrected to the 31st October 1984, p. 271
  95. ^ "Royal Navy shore establishments – major bases". Armed Forces. Retrieved 25 August 2014.

Sources[edit]

  • Lavery, Brian (2003). The Ship of the Line – Volume 1: The development of the battlefleet 1650–1850. Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-252-8.
  • Lloyd, Christopher (1955). The Origins of H.M.S. Excellent. The Mariner's Mirror 41 (3).

External links[edit]