Why has there never been an RN ship named HMS Portsmouth?

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  • #16078
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    Both the naval major ports of Plymouth and Chatham have had RN ships named after them but Portsmouth, maybe the most important historically of the three, has never been similarly honoured. Is it known whether there is a particular reason for this?

    #16079
    David Hepper
    Participant

    There have been fifteen ships in the Royal Navy that have carried the name Portsmouth, the first being built at Portsmouth in 1649, although since the 1740s the name was mainly used for Store Ships , the last being broken up in 1834. There was also a Yacht of 1794 which was in service with the Navy until 1869. An armed trawler carried the name during WW1

    #16080
    Frank Scott
    Participant

    Portsmouth seems to have been quite a common warship name in the 17th century, so much so that at times there was more than one vessel of that name.

    Although quite a few battle honours were awarded (all in that era), vessels of this name do seem to have had a habit of being captured.
    Portsmouth (1) 46-gun, built 1649 (under Commonwealth) captured 1689
    Portsmouth (Shallop) (2) taken from French 1655, captured by Royalists 1655
    Portsmouth (3) ketch built 1665, captured 1673
    Portsmouth (4) sloop built 1667, captured 1672
    Portsmouth (5) yacht/bomb built 1674, wrecked 1703
    Portsmouth (6) 32-gun, built 1690, captured 1696
    Portsmouth (Prize) (7) taken from French 1694, recaptured 1696

    Battle Honours:
    Dover 1652
    Gabbard 1653
    Schevingen 1653
    Lowestoft 1665
    Four Days’ Battle 1666
    Bugia 1671
    Texel 1673
    Bantry Bay 1680
    Barfleur 1692

    Worth noting that there have also been warships named Southsea Castle (1696, 1697, 1708, 1745), Portchester Castle (1944), and Gosport (1696, 1707, 1741), so the area cannot be said to have been overlooked.

    #16092
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    Thank you, David and Frank. I must say it is surprising that no major warship has been named Portsmouth since the 17th century. So many fine warships since that time have been named after naval ports and UK cities but never Portsmouth. Surely it is time that the City of Portsmouth, in the front line in so many conflicts over the centuries, received this honour.
    As someone who became a ‘Pompey’ rating as a National Service seaman in 1953, joining the many thousands who preceded me, I have some personal interest in seeking proper recognition for this historic naval port.
    How should one go about it?

    #16093
    Frank Scott
    Participant

    Given the steady shrinkage of the British Navy there are very few ships in the build pipeline that are open to naming.
    The Type 26 Frigates have potential as they seem to be going for ‘Town’ names, with Glasgow, Belfast & Cardiff already announced. London and/ or York would be good bets for other names in the class, but no more than eight are planned (and even that low number may not be achieved), so competition for naming will be intense. Then there is the cheaper & simpler Type 31 Frigate, of which up to five may be ordered, and for which no naming policy has been announced. The MPs for Portsmouth are probably a good starting point for any ship name lobbying.

    #16095
    Malcolm Lewis
    Participant

    Thank you Frank. Maybe SNR South may have some suggestions. I will contact Mike White.

    #16099
    Mark Barton
    Participant

    My understanding is the RN does not normally name significant ships with the same name as their bases. We had HMS Plymouth as the base is Devonport and HMS Chatham was post Chatham naval base closing. But it would be confusing to have two things with basically the same name.

    #16100
    Frank Scott
    Participant

    This is not a policy that I had heard of, and it is worth bearing in mind that we had two Chatham‘s in the 20th century, the cruiser of 1911-1926, and the frigate of 1988-2011.

    #16287
    David Antscherl
    Participant

    While not a warship, another closely associated ship’s name was Hayling, a Portsmouth habour hoy of 1759-60. This replaced an earlier hoy of the same name.

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