The location of Bermuda off the east coast of north America made it a transit point for vessels travelling to and from Europe. It was also used by privateers who attacked the vessels making this journey. The British established its’ first naval base in Bermuda in about 1795, initially concentrating in the area around St Georges. The Islands of Bermuda were also about half way between the British possessions of Halifax, Canada and Port Royal in Jamaica. With the loss of what is now the United States seaboard in 1783 there was a real need for the Royal Navy to find an alternative naval base in this area.
By 1815 a dockyard was developing on the West End of Ireland Island. From 1851 work commenced on improving Bermuda as a naval base and it was designated as a Fortress along with Malta, Gibraltar and Halifax.