Her Majesty’s Naval Base (HMNB) Portsmouth (HMS Nelson), is one of three operating bases for the Royal Navy (the others being HMNB Clyde and HMNB Devonport). Portsmouth naval base is located on the eastern shore of Portsmouth Harbour and is part of the city of Portsmouth and is situated north of the Solent and Isle of Wight. The base is home to the oldest Drydocks, as well as being a base port for 66% of the Royal Navy’s surface fleet. The base is home to a number of shore activities including shipbuilding (VT Group); ship repair and naval logistics (Fleet Support Limited); and personnel support functions (eg accommodation and messing; medical and dental; education; pastoral and welfare) provided by the Ministry of Defence. The base is the oldest in the Royal Navy, has been a vital part of its history and the defence of the British Isles for centuries and was at its height the largest industrial site in the world . The Naval Base is also home to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard which allows members of the public to visit important maritime attractions such as the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior.
In 2006 the Ministry of Defence announced that a review would be undertaken to examine the future of the three Naval Bases. The Naval Base Review was seeking to examine the long term future needs of the Royal Navy, with the most likely outcome being either retaining the three current Naval Bases, but with reduced capacity in each, or closing one of the two on the south coast of England. The results of the review, released in 2007, have stipulated no base closures.
The harbour is under the control of the Queen’s Harbour Master. Shipping movements are handled by a team of admiralty pilots headed by the Chief Admiralty Pilot, Anthony Bannister.
Portsmouth naval base is home to 2/3 of the Royal Navy’s surface ships, including the two aircraft carriers (HMS Illustrious and HMS Ark Royal). The naval base employs 17,200 people.