Cold War Climate

  • PDF
  • Print
  • E-mail

Different Navy, Different Dockyard


Immediately after the Second World War, the Dockyard still had a large amount of work. It was busy refitting and repairing ships in the active fleet to restore them to the required standards. Dockyard workers transformed merchant ships back to their peacetime specifications. Six years of war had seen the number of vessels in the Fleet grow. In this post-war era the numbers were reduced and the Dockyard was involved in decommissioning ships for example, the aircraft carrier HMS Formidable.

The arrival of the nuclear age and the Cold War changed the role of the Royal Navy. Its role became one of anti-submarine warfare, and escorting convoys. Because Britain still perceived there was a world role for itself with a strong naval presence there was a stable period of employment for many dockyard workers. Portsmouth Dockyard worked on submarines with intercontinental ballistic missiles and a small number of medium sized war ships.

The Korean War from 1950 to 1953 created a drive for rearmament. On 19 December 1950 HMS Victorious entered D lock in the Dockyard for the largest reconstruction of a warship ever undertaken in a British yard. She was finally ready in December 1955.

HMS Victorious
HMS Victorious (B.Patterson)

Portsmouth Dockyard built a number of Leander class frigates during the 1950s and 1960s. HMS Andromeda was a broad-beam Leander class frigate and the last in the order. The Dockyard did not know it at the time but she was the last warship built in Portsmouth Royal Dockyard. Workers laid down her keel plate on 25 May 1966, launched her on 24 May 1967 and completed her 2 December 1968.

Launch of HMS Andromeda
Launch of HMS Andromeda (RNM)

Other work carried out in the period by the Dockyard included improving the living conditions onboard ships. The Dockyard installed cafeterias, seating areas and air conditioning units. The new ships had more space per man. This drive to make living conditions more appealing was because of a lack of volunteers coming forward for the Navy.

For further information please see the In Focus section in the Navy's People on Living Conditions.