The British Navy gained a foothold in the Mediterranean when Gibraltar was
captured and subsequently confirmed by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713.
At the end of the 18th century the island of Minorca was taken by force, and
so Port Mahon a first class deep sea harbour was added. However, Minorca was
returned to Spain by the Treaty of Amiens in 1802, and whilst under the same
Treaty the island of Malta was to be handed back to rule by the Knights, the
actions by Napoleon led to Britain resuming war against him in May 1803.
Malta therefore remained in British hands and was the home of the
Mediterranean Fleet until June 1967 when the last Commander-in-Chief
Mediterranean Fleet departed. A small number of Royal Navy ships continued
to use Malta until the final withdrawal on 31st March 1979.