In 1805, shortly after the Battle of Trafalgar, the islands became part of the British Empire and the Royal Navy began operating a base on the islands to assert naval dominance of European waters. Over time the base grew in size and in 1840 the islands first shipbuilding yard, Anderson & Hawthorn Limited, was opened.
By the start of World War One, Anderson & Hawthorn had established themselves as one of the leading builders of Destroyers for the Royal Navy. During the war however, the threat of U Boat attacks lead the British to cancel all orders from the islands. The shipbuilding yard was closed and workers under Anderson & Hawthorn were relocated to the United Kingdom. Using British shipyards, the shipbuilders employed by Anderson & Hawthorn built a total of eight Destroyers and two Cruisers during the First World War.
The depression largely affected the islands shipbuilding trade. The Royal Navy cut orders and companies were unwilling to put money into new ventures. The Islands airport was opened in 1924 and was split into two sections, civilian and military, since two Royal Air Force squadrons were based on the islands. It wasn’t until the Second World War that the islands economy began to recover.
During the Secound World War the threat of U Boat attacks meant that the British cancelled orders, meaning Anderson & Hawthorn had to send their workers to the United Kingdom again. This time however there was a new threat, the idea of a German invasion. 2,000 men aged 18–28 were drafted from the islands to form the Atlantic Islands Defence Force. The Military was trained and equipped by British forces and would serve to defend the Islands in the event of invasion. By 1944 the threat of invasion had passed but the newly formed military was kept active and by 1950 had expanded in manpower to 4,000.
By 1950, the now fairly large population of the Atlantic Islands began to call for independence from the United Kingdom. In 1960 the Winston and London Agreement was reached. The agreement stated that the Royal Navy would still be allowed to operate their base on the islands and that the newly formed Atlantic Islands Navy would be allowed to use mainland British bases.
During the Cold War, the Atlantic Islands Navy worked alongside the Royal Navy in an anti-submarine role. America became interested in the naval technology being developed and fielded by Anderson & Hawthorn. Unfortunately a deal couldn’t be made. However, Anderson & Hawthorn agreed to show American officials some of their radar designs.
- Main article: Atlantic Islands Defence Force
The Atlantic Islands Defence Force is the military organization responsible for the defence of the Atlantic Islands. It consists of the Atlantic Islands Navy, the Atlantic Islands Army, and the Atlantic Islands Air Force. In total the Atlantic Islands Defence Force consists of 8,000 personnel and is managed by the Ministry of Defence and controlled by the Defence Council, chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence.