Government Dockyard 1981

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 21:44

A very rare picture of 1950s- vintage fast triple-screw wooden police launches 4 and 5 together. PL5 spent most of its life as a Preventive Service (nowadays Custom and Excise) craft, was transferred to Marine Police in the late 1970s during the illegal immigration crisis. These craft were sold off not long after this pic was taken, Police 4 (which I had commanded in 1976),  survived for some years in civilian hands as a party boat, painted white and covered with coloured lights, often seen in the harbour at night. 

Date picture taken
20 Apr 1981


Submitted by
Anonymous (not verified)
Fri, 09/24/2010 - 07:36

I served on PL 4 in 1958 with Mike Cunningham as OC. It was a bitterly cold time and I was forced to buy a blanket in the market at Cheung Chau

This photo is currently linked to the Place for the old Tamar dockyard on HK island, but the tags suggest the photo shows somewhere in Kowloon. Was there a different dockyard that the police used?

Regards, David

The marine police have never had a dedicated dockyard. The Government Dockyard, where this picture was taken, was in Yaumatei, and was responsible for the maintenance of all HK goverment departments' vessels. It was the former Kowloon Naval Yard, which was taken over by the HK Govt. in 1959 or thereabouts. The Kowloon Naval Yard was used for Royal Navy small boat craft repair and maintenenance, and was adjacent to the naval fuel depot. The Government Dockyard moved to Stonecutters' Island in 1997. 


Thanks for the extra information. Here's a map from the 1960s:

1960s Cinemas in Kowloon

Heading up from the bottom left corner there's the Star Ferry, five longer piers, then a small squarish dock (marked 'Torpedo Depot' on pre-war maps), then a larger one in front of Austin Road. Was it one of those two?

Regards, David

Let's see if I've got this straight:

The southern area (smaller, rectangle-shaped, just north of Navy Street) was a torpedo boat base, and torpedo maintenance depot, pre-war. After the war it was used for Royal Navy small boat craft repair and maintenance, until around 1959 when it was transferred to the HK Government. It was responsible for the maintenance of all HK Goverment departments' vessels. The Government Dockyard moved to Stonecutters' Island in 1997.

The northern area (larger, more curved shape, in front of Austin Road) was the Royal Navy's re-fuelling depot. Fuel was stored in large tanks south-west of Jordan and Canton Roads. Sometime post-war they were transferred to the HK Government and during the influx of Vietnamese refugees, Vietnamese boats were held here.

Corrections / additions welcome!

Regards, David

From the flickr references above the Government Dockyard prior to its move to Stonecutters was situated near the Canton Road Government Offices just to the north of Austin Road within the northern basin. In the early days the northern area was used as a coal yard and later as a re-fuelling depot.

The southern area was used as a torpedo boat base. It was near here that the French torpedo boat 'Fronde' met its demise:


I can recall seeing an article on the Kowloon facility, in the British Forces "Junk" magazine in the 1990s, which featured photos of torpedo boats, and torpedo instruction underway in a classroom. I wonder if anyone has a copy....

Photos of a torpedo instructional class at the Naval Dockyard and torpedo boats at Kowloon appear in White Enisign - Red Dragon (The History of the Royal Navy in Hong Kong 1841-1997).

Thanks for the extra information. I've recently seen some photos of Fronde taken after the typhoon, but they use the word "comber" to describe the dockyard area.

Has anyone heard that word used before? It's not mentioned in this usage in the online dictionaries, so is it a Hongkong-specific word?

Regards, David

I'm trying to poinpoint the exact location of the "Naval Coalyard at Kowloon" - does anyone know?  Prior to it becoming the "Naval Coalyard at Kowloon" it was the headquarters of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (which moved to North Point in 1908 and again to Kellett Island in 1938)

Many thanks!

The Royal Naval Dockyard in Kowloon was known as the Royal Navy Small Ships Maintenance Base. (SSMB) This is where all the maintenance and repairs for  of the Armed Motor Launches of the famous Hong Kong Flotilla were maintained together with small anicllary craft. A Large Landing Craft 1110 housed a workshop with precision machine tools.