I really don't know why I am doing this, although its probably because I am tired of seeing the mis or dis information generated by the people who use these forums to ask perfectly reasonable questions, and they are answered by people who clearly don't know what they are talking about or do not understand the workings of the Royal Navy!

I'll be brief, so I'll use as an example the ubiquitous questions surrounding ships names which are suffixed by numerals viz HMS Victory II.

The Royal Navy is managed and run from shore sides, where all organisation and administrative power lies, not to mention operations.  In simple terms from the MOD[Navy] and from admirals not in Whitehall with flag officer appointments. There are just one or two flag officers who are afloat [not shore sides] but they organise and administer their own relatively small groups of sea-going vessels, as a second-tier of command.

In days gone by, virtually all the shore side navy [barracks, schools, head quarter building, flag ships harbour-bound - in Portsmouth HMS Victory and in Devonport HMS Impregnable], Royal Naval Air Stations [RNAS], had a 'tender' assigned, which was a seagoing vessel or a stationary training ship.  Some of these tenders were tiny vessels [HMS Ganges had a small motor boat, whilst HMS Mercury had a yacht called the Meon Maid - Meon being the river running close by to the shore training school established near Petersfield Hampshire in WW2; some shore barracks had training ships [none sea going] for example stokers training ships in Devonport and Portsmouth. Places like HMS Dolphin, the main UK submarine base of yore at Gosport Hampshire in which sat the admiral commanding submarines]  had many tenders, all of them sea going operational submarines. The admiral commanding the Royal Yacht, a sea going vessel, did not have a tender, but, the Yacht itself was a tender of its Portsmouth Base HMS Excellent on Whale Island, Portsmouth.

You will have gathered that a tender goes to, or can go to sea to do its operational business full well knowing that that their "tendered to" ship/shore establishment will look after all its administration, needs and requirements, which includes paying the complement = officers and men [now women also] combined, drafting, organising relieves for men/women who fall ill or who require hospital treatment, leave, compassionate cases, safety, training courses and promotions, fuel and ammunition requirements on return to harbour, provisions, everything from rum, to food, and generally playing 'mother' to their tenders.

Going back into the dark ages [in this case the turn of the century from 19th to 20th] we remember that there were several types of ships, some sea going and lots, not! Fighting ships fully crewed; reserve ships crewed by the the "Standing Three" all warrant officers, the boatswain, the gunner and the carpenter, responsible for maintaining the vessel so as to be ready immediately if called to war, prison/convict ships; accommodation hulks; sea going training vessels for boys and youths; afloat but static training ships for boys and youths; a sea going training vessel for cadets and midshipmen; and others. All but the fighting ships and the reserve ships, had vermin, were inhabitable and unhealthy often the root cause of premature deaths and certainly pandemic diseases.

In the dying days of the 19th century, Their Lordships at the admiralty decided enough was enough, for morale was at an all time low. An order was issued that boys and youths sea going ships should be discontinued, and all vessels other than fighting and reserve fleet units should be abandoned, and all in them, over time, moved ashore into purpose built suitable barracks, which of course included naval prisons, and later detention quarters.

This major transition period, turned Portsmouth from an army garrison town to a naval town, the navy taking over army barracks, knocked them down, and built state-of-the-art high quality buildings in lieu.  HMS Victory in Queens Street, the shore barracks, had once been Anglesey Army Barracks and where now stands the splendid wardroom officers mess of RNB was the Garrison Hospital. To replace it into an officers mess, required the navy to build the Queen Alexandra hospital on Portsdown Hill for use of the city folk. Other army barracks in all parts of the Portsmouth environs were taken over by the navy. Victoria Barracks at Southsea became affectionately called Vicky Barracks and was used for male adult new entries whilst at a later period, the nearby Duchess of Kent barracks was taken over for the use of the WRNS.

During this period the bad to poor ships had been managed, or more accurately NOT managed by the standing crews who were responsible to nobody except themselves.

Whilst awaiting the mass build of this naval infrastructure, a ship was appointed as the "Central Depot". The ship was called HMS Duke of Wellington in Portsmouth and HMS Royal Adelaide in Devonport,  the Duke of Wellington arguably the largest and biggest broadside ship we ever had, twice the size of HMS Victory. The blue jackets only [seamen] were moved to these ships after fighting ships they were in paid off, with the marines moving to their shore barracks already well established in both ports.  Stokers moved to their Central Depot ships [HMS Indus in Devonport and HMS Asia in Portsmouth. The vast majority of the men moved from these bad/poor ships with the exception of the convicts/prisoners, to the ships/barracks mentioned above. From these Central Depot ships, they went to work or to train on a daily basis in various tenders.

In Portsmouth, the stokers went to HMS Fire Queen, herself a small and insignificant yacht with a displacement of less than 500 long tons. Note she is referred to as a GENERAL DEPOT as opposed to the Duke of Wellington which is called the Central Depot

Fire Queen herself had a tender, this called HMS Nelson, which was the Portsmouth stokers training ship. In Devonport the stokers General Depot ship was HMS Phateon and one [of two] of its training ships  was HMS Andromeda.

HMS Victory, despite her small size relative to HMS Duke of Wellington, was, because of Nelsons association, still the flag ship and as such dictated much in and around Portsmouth, leaving accommodation and non operational matters to the Duke of Wellington in which there was a severe discipline maintained.

Victory eventually took over the general training role administration, but in the lull-years, life went on at a leisurely pace with a toned-down naval commitment in the Second Boer War and the Boxer Uprising in China as the only exciting things. By 1898 HMS Victory II had been created, and new-entry 2nd class stokers training came under that umbrella. As in all cases, the address for any Victory department and C-in-C's office was of course Portsmouth.

The status quo remained right up to 1913 when the navy started in earnest to gear-up to meet what would always be a smaller navy than ours, namely the aspirations of the Kaiserliche Marine, the German Royal Navy commonly referred to as the High Seas Fleet rather ostentatiously - they never dared to venture far!

More stokers were required, dramatically more, and having just the one stokers training ship, the Nelson, was deemed inadequate. In 1913 the navy sent two Diadem class cruisers to Devonport for stokers training [Andromeda and Amphitrite]  and two came to Portsmouth [Diadem and Spartiate]. Victory II took over the Fire Queens roll now much greater with two training ships going full blast, so both ship were now tenders of Victory II.  The officers appointed to run the stokers training side were listed in the navy list under the heading of HMS Victory.

Each of these cruisers had the French boiler system fitted for coal and not heavy oil [FFO = Furnace Fuel Oil] called the Belleville system, where each ship had 30 boilers [60 in all] for a training programme now gearing up to run for 18 hours a day.  You might be surprised to know that a device fitted to the Belleville system was called the 'KILROY' [in English] and it is from this point of design [1885] that the word comes from, not from some US serviceman in WW2!

By 1905 the RNB Portsmouth was finished, commissioned and populated and all in the Duke of Wellington and the Asia moved in, and the ships were sold for scrap and destroyed.

Training for stokers continued throughout WW1 using the Andromeda and the Amphitrite, and the Diadem plus the Spartiate. Spartiate at Portsmouth had French [Paris] boilers made by Balleville and British engines [London] made by Maudslay [1762-1864] at Lambeth Marsh, the only Thames based yard to fulfill naval contracts until 1835 when orders  were given to Barnes & Miller of Ratcliff, and Seward & Capel of Millwall.

In conclusion it would be fitting were you to remember that if you [as an establishment of a non sea going ship had a tender to look after, you had a baby to feed!

HMS Victory at one point had many tenders, but then again so too did other barracks in other naval ports.  By 1914 things were so frenetic in the Victory coping with WW1 and training, that several admin departments were relocated away from Portsmouth.  You may find Victory II in Newbury or even elsewhere, but remember wherever the address, it was the address of an admin department not an operation or operational department meaning that training remained on a tender [a ship in Portsmouth or Devonport or any other Depot' harbour. That means that irrespective of the admin address and premises, anything with an HMS Victory overtone, is conducted in or very near to Portsmouth; the whereabouts of pen pushers, important though they were to the successful running of operations, should never by confused.

As for the continuous misunderstanding of Crystal Palace and the Royal Navy which was never Victory II, the navy took it over in 1914 [not sooner] put a RNVR signal school in the grounds, and the rest was devoted to teaching sailors how to fight with a rifle and bayonet in the trenches alongside our soldiers [RND]. No RN branch training other than the RNVR Signal School]  was ever conducted in Crystal Palace, just RND [Royal Naval Division training]

  Please, no more stupid answers to some quite proper questions. If you are not savvy navy-wise, say so, and stop spreading crap to the screens of a lot of people easily conned!

Victory II was not an operational address and should never be thought of a physical geographic location.  More than likely, it's a group of a few officers and Wrens [but few if any sailors] working as a 'mum' looking after real life fighting men, no matter where geographically!

Thank you.

See my attachments and URL's below.

Note towards the bottom of the text below that an officer [Fleet Paymaster S.W. Wright = a Commander Pay and Supply bod without a clue as to how a ship is run operationally]  is being sent to the Victory to be in "in [overall] admin charge of DIVISION II". 

Note of page 392 below, showing departments in HMS Victory in Dec 1913 the small list of officers appointed to look after 2nd class stokers training [right hand column] not to conduct the training.


  DIADEM - Note Tender to Victory. Note also the very few officer left in the ship and that the senior officer is now a Eng Cdr [Engineer Commander] Reason;  the ship is used for stokers training only.

SPARTIATE as for DIADEM above. Note these are big ships at 11000 long tons.


NELSON Tender to Fire Queen for the training of stokers at Portsmouth in 1904

HMS Fire Queen a General Depot 1904 a FILE all about Crystal Palace in 1914  when stokers fell foul with seamen in their brand new barracks