Hornet Services Sailing Club
Brief History
Hornet Crest
The site of Hornet in 1921. Haslar bridge in background. Haslar Bridge Circa 1921, from site of Hornet Sailing Club

The Hornet Services Sailing Club  is affiliated to the Royal Naval Sailing Association (RNSA). It is situated in Haslar Creek, Gosport, Hampshire, United Kingdom, on land leased from the Royal Navy. Members are either serving or retired members of the Royal Navy who live in the area, and come from all ranks. The club was formed/evolved, after the Royal Navy disbanded Coastal Forces, and HMS Hornet was closed in 1956.

The original wooden Wardroom and Captain's quarters are still maintained and form the comfortable club house which is now well attended by members and visiting yachtsmen and women. After the MTB's were moved to HMS Dolphin in 1956 all that remained were the torpedo recovery vessel and a floating 'shed' nicknamed the 'Ark' together with a small team of civilians who used the workshops to support the remaining MTB's. The concrete central finger pier and apron, which have been certified unusable for supporting traffic or heavy weights, were originally built in 1955, just before HMS Hornet was decommissioned.

With tacit approval of The Queens Harbour Master, a growing number of local naval personnel began to keep their yachts moored at Hornet and by 1962 the ex-German yachts Merlin, Sehexe and Suna were moored with the dozen or so other yachts. A proposal was put forward to form a Naval Yacht Club and tentative approval was given in 1962. The Club got off to a slow start through lack of funds and as a consequence a berthing fee of £20 was set per annum. Facilities were almost non existent. The pontoons were rescued from the navy when discarded and lacked adequate connecting rings and cleats. Apart from this they were huge affairs, built for ships rather than yachts.

In May of 1964, the club was formerly opened, and not surprisingly, a flood of applications for berths rolled in and it became necessary to establish ground rules. With limited space available, motor yachts would be excluded and there would be no living on board. Membership was limited to RNSA members with at least two years standing to prevent anyone joining the RNSA just to get a Hornet berth.

In 1969 the MTB workshop was finally closed and the torpedo recovery vessel was decommissioned and by 1970 there were about 120 established yachts berthed at Hornet. The first of the original wooden piers were demolished, and the large slip cradles were cut in half to make them suitable for yachts - In fact these lasted until the mid nineties before being replaced by a 'Wyse' hoist, hauled by tractor.

1972 saw a huge change. The Joint Services Sailing Centre was born and moved into Hornet. The club ran the risk of losing the site it had worked hard to develop, in the first instance to JSSC and in the second to members of the other two services. Fortunately, the club survived and has lived alongside JSSC since. A compromise was made with the Army and Royal Air Force and eight regimental and four RAF establishment together with a number of local RN yachts have been allocated berthing within Hornet. The club has been helped by the number of visiting service personnel, who take advantage of the opportunity to sail with JSSC. It was at this time that the JSSC took delivery of nine Nicholson 55's, nine Contessa 32's and nine Halcyon 27's. These were all moored in a well restored area of Hornet with new piles and pontoons.

Click to go to JSASTC site

Click to go to Ministry of Defence site

In 1976 a programme of purchasing new pontoons was implemented, and after a fairly disastrous start using concrete floats, Walcon started production and there followed a steady replacement plan of the dockyard rejects.

The Submarine Museum was established in 1980 and as a result the club lost a lot of land required for public car parking and access to the museum. Throughout the eighties what still remained of the club facilities has been kept in good condition and developed up to the present day.

By the mid eighties the old MTB slip hauling winch gave up the ghost, probably as a result of being used in the operation to mount the Alliance submarine on its cradle. This led to the club making a decision, quite brave at the time, to purchase a tractor. This has proved to be great success.

JSSC became Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC) in 1991 when they sold off their Contessa 32's and Halcyons. These were replaced with the fifteen Victoria 34's lovingly named the Mollusk Fleet as a result of their naming convention.

Haslar Creek Aerial Image 1997

Throughout the nineties the club changed quite significantly with almost 300 yachts of up to 39 feet in length moored, two up, on modern pontoons. Electricity was installed on pontoons adjacent to the mast hoist and a new longer pontoon, named in honour of Admiral of The Fleet Sir John Fieldhouse, who had been a long time active member of the club, was added to the marina.

The Hornet Sailing Club entered the millennium having evolved from humble beginnings in 1956 when the Coastal Forces and MTB fleet was disbanded. Many of the members of the club have been responsible for the United Kingdoms notability in the sailing world and for promoting sail training to a high standard both at home and overseas. Many of the world class sailing events have been managed or supported by members who take an active role in the promotion of safety at sea. The challenges of the new millennia will be as fruitful to the membership as they were in the 40 or so years of the 1900's.

The new millennia started fairly quietly with only rumours of impending decommissioning and sale of Royal Naval Hospital Haslar and the potential impact on Hornet Sailing Club if the Crown Estates chose to dispose of land we currently have access to. 2006 brought changes to HSC's Constitution in order to bring it up to reflect the needs of the club at this time. 

In 2009 JSASTC got the long awaited approval to develop their site facilities to meet the future needs of the combined services sail training. In mid 2010 JSASTC started to move into the new boat maintenance building which includes purpose built stores and classroom facilities. 

Early in 2010, in a bitterly cold spell of wind and snow, a small group of members set about with Walcon contractors to extend 'I' pontoon. This enabled HSC to provide affordable berthing for more qualifying service personnel. At the same time electricity was provided on all HSC pontoons to bring the clubs facilities up to date, in line with marinas generally.

HMS Alliance submarine is expected to be refurbished and made more accessible to visitors and this means taking up real estate currently used by HSC.

Last but not least, the gas fires in the main club house, long overdue for replacement, were removed and a new central heating system installed to include heating of the Fabrosa Room.

 

In October of 2010 at an Extraordinary General Meeting, the membership of Hornet Sailing Club were requested to vote for changing the name to Royal Naval Sailing Club. The reason given for the need to change was that it would better reflect the clubs long history of its association with the Royal Navy and commitment to encourage serving members to sail. The vote in favour of the change was carried by the membership but unfortunately the higher authorities did not grant the change at this time.

During 2011 the prefabricated buildings that were used by JSASTC on the opposite side of the road to the clubhouse started to be demolished to make way for a boat park. Work on the Alliance submarine coffer dam was started and by the beginning of 2012 the piling had been completed leaving still other works to be done.

September, 2012, the slip area was ready for the placement of the new walkway and the replacing of the Z berthing pontoons. The installation of the pontoons and the pile driving was finally completed in October.

The major restoration of the submarine continues, and will take a further two years or so, to 2014. This should not seriously affect the sailing activities as the work in progress is well tented. 

On the 13 April 2013 at the AGM the attending membership voted to accept a change of name from 'Hornet Sailing Club' to 'Hornet Services Sailing Club'. The change of name reflecting the clubs commitment to support and encourage sailing in all Services. Serving personnel and their families will be given primary consideration for membership with veterans receiving continued membership privilege.  

A more detailed history of Hornet Sailing Club, up to the 1990's, can be obtained from the Club Manager.

 

The War Memorial to the small ships of The Coastal Forces lost during the Second World War is looked over by the clubhouse. Each November a remembrance service is held and veteran crew members return to Hornet for their Annual Reunion. The names of the Coastal Forces Depots are inscribed on the memorial. These depots were strategically positioned around the coast of Great Britain during the Second World War.

More...

Coastal Forces in detail

Coastal Forces History

The Coastal Forces Memorial at Hornet


 SHIPS BEARING THE NAME HMS HORNET

1745 HMS Hornet - Sloop. 14 Gun. 272 Tons. LOA 91 feet. Built in Chichester, England and commissioned August 1745. Sold in 1770. Was in French hands from December 1746 to October 1747.
1763 HMS Hornet - Cutter. 16 Gun. 98 Tons. LOA 50 feet. Purchased January 1763 and sold July 1772.
1776 HMS Hornet - Sloop. 14 Gun. 305 Tons. LOA 97 feet. Built 1776 and sold July 1791.
1794 HMS Hornet - Sloop. 16 Gun. 423 Tons. LOA 108 feet. Built and commissioned February 1794 and sold October 1817.
1794 HMS Hornet - Gun Vessel. 60 Tons. LOA 63 feet. Purchased March 1794 and broken up July 1795.
1831 HMS Hornet - Schooner. 181 Tons. LOA 81 feet. Built Chatham Dockyard and commissioned August 1831. Broken up 1845.
1854 HMS Hornet - Wooden Schooner. 17-32 Pounder guns. 753 Tons. LOA 160 feet. Completed Deptford April 1854 and broken up in 1868.
1868 HMS Hornet - Gun Vessel. 603 Tons. LOA 155 feet. Built Stockton-on-Tees and commissioned March 1869. Sold 1889.
1893 HMS Hornet - Destroyer. Completed November 1893 and sold October 1909.
1911 HMS Hornet - Destroyer. Built by John Brown December 1911 and sold in May 1921.
1926 HMS Hornet - Commissioned as the Coastal Forces Base Gosport, Hampshire, England in November 1926. Became Coastal Forces Depot December 1939. Decommissioned in 1956.

This page was last updated on Saturday, January 06, 2018 12:35 by Richard Spencer.