The Royal East African Navy (REAN) was formed in 1952 with its headquarters at the present site of Bandari College in Mombasa. This was prior to the independence of the four East African states of Kenya, Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Uganda and Zanzibar.

The Resident Naval Officer East Africa had a dual responsibility, firstly to the Admiralty wearing his Royal Navy hat, and also to the East African High Commission and Common Services Organization wearing his Commanding Officer's Royal East African Navy hat.

The Resident Naval Officer administered a force of 200 African ratings drawn from the four East African states. The ratings were embedded on a five-year renewable contract. On the whole, the personnel progressed well in their careers of Naval training, displaying excellent performance in their duties, and subsequently rising to the ranks of Petty Officer and Chief Petty Officer, the equivalent of today's Sergeant and Senior Sergeant.

In 1958 the Ham Class Inshore Mine-sweeper Her Majesty's Ship HMS Bassingham was collected by the REAN delivery crew and renamed HMEAS Bassingham. The ship's armament was composed of one 40mm Bofer gun and one 20mm Oerlikon gun and she could attain speeds of up to 14 knots.

The other vessel in the inventory of Royal East African Navy was Her Majesty's East African Ship Mvita. Shortly before 1957 both HMEAS Rosalind and HMS Loch Fada were used to uplift Archbishop Makarios to Seychelles for banishment. HMEAS Rosalind was also used to ferry Mau Mau detainees to Lamu detention camps during the wet seasons as well as carry out anti-poaching patrols against the endemic ivory trade. She was armed with one 40mm Bofor gun and two 20mm Oerlikon guns and her maximum speed was 12 knots.

HMEAS Rosalind provided a guard of honour during the August Annual Jamboree for HH the Sultan of Zanzibar's birthday. She also provided a guard of honour on 17th October 1960 during the accession of the new Sultanate of Zanzibar after the death of HH Seyyid Sir Khalifu bin Harub .

The mine-sweeper was also used during the general elections held on 1 June 1961 in Zanzibar to carry out off-shore patrols and assist in the sea transportation of military the personnel who included the 5 Kings African Rifles from Kenya and the 6 Kings African Rifles from Tanganyika.

At noon on the 30 June 1962 the white Ensign was lowered from the masthead outside Navy House, Telegraph Point, Liwatoni in Kilindini on the disbandment of the Royal East African Navy, marking the end of the colonial era as far as the Navy was concerned.

After the disbandment of the Royal East African Navy, the Naval Base was handed over to the Harbour Authority. The Royal Navy had an armament depot at the present site of the Kenya Navy which served the logistic requirements of the UK forces in the Middle East .

In 1964 the Admiralty transferred the Shakespears minesweeper HMS Rosalind that had been deployed to the East African waters to the Madagascar Campaign on a permanent loan basis.


When Tanganyika attained independence in 1962 to become the United Republic of Tanzania, the Royal East African Navy was disbanded and the Naval Base was handed over to the East African Railways and Harbours Co-operation.

At Kenya's independence in 1963, the need for a Kenya Navy as part of the national defence was identified. The planning for implementation of the Kenya Navy was initiated under an agreement with the British Government. It was then agreed to form a small but efficient Naval force, utilizing the facilities at the former Royal Naval Armament Depot.

On 12 December 1964, the Kenya Navy was formally inaugurated by the late President Mzee Jomo Kenyatta to meet the security needs of the young nation. In the launching ceremony held on 16th December, 1964 the late President Kenyatta described the formation of the Navy as, "...a ceremony marking the completion of Kenya's pattern of defence."

He went further and said he expected the Navy, as it developed, to emulate those standards of loyalty, efficiency and discipline which had already characterized the sister services.

"I am sure they will develop such a pride in the Kenya Navy as have led man through the ages of heights of endurance and valour. I am confident that henceforth and in this context, the Kenya Navy will at all time give expressions to her duty in the face of any challenges", he concluded.

With Kenya becoming a Republic on 12 December 1964, the prefix "Royal" was dropped and the Kenya Navy came into its own. On 1 November 1972 Lieutenant Colonel JCJ Kimaro assumed office as the first African Navy Commander. The Navy was now truly Kenyan.

The first batch of ten Kenyan Officers was enlisted on 10 December, 1964 and sent to Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) Dartmouth, UK for training in January 1965. Initially all Officers serving in the Kenya Navy were on loan from the Royal Navy until 1966 when the first Kenyan midshipman (Major General (Rtd) BOC Onyango) reported for duty after completing his UK training. The first Kenyan Ratings were recruited in 1965. Training for ratings was carried out in Mombasa by the Royal Navy Training Team (RNTT) while Officers underwent appropriate courses in various institutions in the UK.

The Royal Navy also loaned a training ship, HMS Aberford which was later renamed KNS Nyati. Two boats and motor cutters were used for training the young seamen. The only Harbour Launch, Upindi, continued to be manned by civilian personnel until June, 1967 when more servicemen were available to man ships and boats.


Commander E M C Walker (RN), now deceased, was seconded from the Royal Navy to take the initial Command of the Navy and headed a Royal Navy Training Team (RNTT), charged with the training of the young but eager Kenyan Cadets and Recruits

The first Commander of the Kenya Navy Cdr E M C Walker (RN) was replaced in August 1967 by Cdr A A Pearse (RN). Cdr Walker had within the 33 months he was in charge of the Navy raised it from its infancy to a force capable of keeping the Kenya Coast under 24 - hour surveillance.

The second Commander, Cdr A A Pearse (RN) was not new to Kenya. He had supervised the handing over of the Royal Navy Armament Depot buildings to the new Kenya Navy at its inauguration. On arrival, Cdr Pearse promised to make the Kenya Navy "second to none in the Indian Ocean". Cdr Pearse remained in Command of the Kenya Navy for 27 months. He left in October 1969 to take up another appointment with the Royal Navy in Plymouth, UK. He handed over to Cdr WAE Hall (RN) at a ceremony officiated by the late President Jomo Kenyatta in State House, Mombasa . It was during the term of Cdr Pearse that the Kenya Navy, more than any other time, managed to regularly visit the Indian Ocean Islands. Read more

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