Royal Naval Museum


The Preventative Squadron

‘Topsail Yards’ - HMSs Dart, Britomart and Amphrite on the West Coast of Africa Station, 1847.

The Navy sent the first anti-slavery patrol to Africa in 1808. Its aim was to end the British slave trade. Though other countries continued trading, Britain could do little to prevent this or the profits they made.

In 1808 Britain was at war with France and only two ships were available. By 1811 this had grown to a small squadron but it was only after the end of the wars with France that the Navy established the West Coast of Africa Station in 1819.  The ships on the station became known as the ‘Preventative Squadron’. Its role was to patrol from Cape Verde to Benguela using all legal measures to suppress the slave trade.  The 3000-mile long coast, with its many creeks and rivers and a complex system of laws and treaties, meant this was no easy task.

Back to top