British Naval ships began using English Harbour as a safe haven from hurricanes in 1671. The site then became an extensive base at Nelson’s Dockyard in 1725. The military garrison remained operational until abandoned in 1889. However, the United Kingdom retained control over Antigua and Barbuda for almost another century until it became an independent country in 1981. It appears the tradition of a civilian ship flying a Red Ensign flag when visiting UK waters lives on.