We stand on guard for thee.’ Dockyards and Naval Bases in North America, the Atlantic and the Caribbean

Date / time
Date(s) - 30 March
All day


Landscapes of war have morphed into leisure spaces. One of the cannon at Fort Hamilton built in the 1870s to protect Hamilton Harbour, access to Bermuda Dockyard and safeguard Atlantic trade routes. Like the 1860s forts surrounding British home dockyards following the 1860 Defence Act, the forts built around Bermuda as a result of the Colonial Defence Act of 1865 never fired their cannon in defence, their massive firepower providing an effective deterrent. (A. Coats, 2012).

The sentiment expressed in the chorus of ‘O Canada’, the Canadian national anthem written in 1880, could represent that of any naval base for its territory.This one-day conference will examine the role of naval bases in North America, the North Atlantic and the Caribbean. Were bases built to defend colonies, to control colonies, or to act as springboards for attacking the enemy? How useful were bases in the 17th–20th centuries? Some bases expanded in the world wars. How much was this for local defence and how much to defend convoys?

An exciting and wide-ranging international programme features three papers focused on shore and air facilities in North American naval bases: the Upper Canadian hemp supply, naval dockyards on the Great Lakes and the Rush-Bagot Treaty, and shore facilities for maritime and naval aviation in the North Atlantic. These are followed by four papers examining specific naval issues: West Indies naval hospitals, historic defences at La Fortileza at Santo Domingo, the history and re-use of Brooklyn navy yard at New York, and heritage issues at Port Royal Jamaica.

Location: national Maritime Museum, Greenwich, Romney Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF