Devonport in Plymouth is the largest naval base in Western Europe and has been assisting the Royal Navy since 1691. The site covers more than 650 acres, has 15 dry docks, four miles of waterfront, 25 tidal berths and five basins. The functions of HM Naval Base Devonport include training and support base for both submarines and surface ships including visiting international naval vessels.
Devonport is the home port for all ships in the Royal Navy (RN) amphibious fleet, half of the RN frigate fleet and several RN submarines and survey vessels. Devonport is also home to Royal Navy Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST) and Royal Marine Commando and its craft.
The base which employs 2,500 Service personnel and civilians, supports around 400 local companies and is responsible for around ten per cent of Plymouth’s income.
History of HM Naval Base Devonport
In 1588, the ships of the English Navy set sail for the Spanish Armada through the mouth of the River Plym, thereby establishing the military presence in Plymouth.
In 1689 Prince William of Orange became William III and he required the building of a new Royal Dockyard west of Portsmouth. Edmund Dummer, Surveyor of the Navy, selected the Hamoaze area, a section of the River Tamar, which was the start Plymouth (later Devonport) Royal Dockyard.
Devonport Royal Dockyard
Working in partnership with the Ministry of Defence at Devonport, Babcock provides through-life support for submarines, surface ships and associated systems and equipment.
Babcock’s facilities at Devonport include the UK’s sole licensed site for the refitting and refuel/defuel of nuclear-powered submarines, where Trafalgar and Vanguard-Class submarines undergo major refits and upgrades.
Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST)
Up until May 2020, the Flag Officer Sea Training led a training organisation responsible for ensuring that Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels were fit to join the operational fleet. This has now been replaced by Fleet Operational Sea Training.
From the Naval Bases at Portsmouth, Plymouth, the Clyde in Scotland and a small team at Northwood in Middlesex, Fleet Operational Sea Training (FOST) provides training for all surface ships, submarines, Royal Fleet Auxiliaries and Strike Groups of the Royal Navy by a dedicated team of experts, led by Commander Fleet Operational Sea Training (COM FOST).
The headquarters for FOST are at Devonport in Plymouth, and an increasing number of NATO and foreign participants conduct training because FOST has established and maintains a worldwide reputation for excellence.
The main training and testing periods are called Basic Operational Sea Training (BOST), which typically lasts six weeks. It combines surveys of the physical condition of the ship with tests of the crew’s readiness for deployment, including a weekly warfighting and damage control scenario known as a ‘Thursday War’.
Foreign Vessels Undergoing Fleet Operational Sea Training
On average, 20 foreign ships train at Devonport each year but, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HDMS Esbern Snare will be one of the first in 2020.
Officers and Ratings of international navies and maritime organisations receive FOST training in Hydrography, Meteorology and Oceanography based at FOST Hydrography and Meteorology school at Devonport. The training courses are:
- Common Time (Hydrographic)
- Advanced Survey
- NATO Tactical Exploitation of the Environment (NTEE)
HDMS Esbern Snare, one of five major warships in the Royal Danish Navy, will undergo Fleet Operational Sea Training at Devonport and due to COVID-19 HDMS Esbern Snare is the first ship some junior sailors, out of the total of 120 onboard, have been on.
After completing training in 2020, HDMS Esbern Snare is expected to be deployed on a NATO mission in 2021.
RM Tamar Amphibious Training
RM Tamar is home to 1 Assault Group Royal Marines. It also houses 539 Assault Squadron and 10 (Landing Craft) Training Squadron, and berths for the amphibious ships Bulwark, Albion and Ocean.
RM Tamar provides vital support for Royal Marines preparing for operations worldwide and for amphibious training. RM Tamar is home for 300 military personnel plus up to 132 on training courses throughout the year.
HM Naval Base Devonport Training
Before you can complete your FOST and BOST HM Naval Base Devonport Training, you will need to complete your Royal Navy Basic Training at HMS Raleigh.