Centre for European and International Studies Research

PhD profile

Mr Simon Smith

  • Role Title: PhD Student
  • Address: Park Building, King Henry 1 Street, Portsmouth PO1 2DZ
  • Telephone:
  • Email: simon.smith@port.ac.uk
  • Department: Centre for European and International Studies Research
  • Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences


Working Title - “We sail the ocean blue!” Sailors in the Royal Navy and British imperial sentiment, 1870-1939: A study of sailors and their relationship with the Royal Navy and imperialism.

My PhD research will investigate the experience of sailors in the Royal Navy during the radical modernization it underwent in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. Beyond the technological changes, the image of sailors and the presentation of the Royal Navy was altered. No longer was the British sailor a ‘bawdy drunkard’ but a hero of the Empire sailing the oceans and enforcing Pax Britannia. Building on Conley’s study of Jack Tar and progressing beyond a gender study my research aims to provide a socio-cultural investigation of sailors and their relationship with the navy and imperialism.

By analysing sailor diaries and contemporary records this study focuses on the key questions: how sailors reacted to and were affected by the reforms the Royal Navy underwent at this time and the effect of the two unprecedented conflicts Britain undertook. Alongside this it will consider how the changing image of the British sailor was used to influence imperial sentiment both on a local and national level. This will tie into the on-going ‘Mackenzie/Porter’ debate but will also draw on the growing study of the ‘civic’ in history.

  • First Supervisor – Dr Brad Beaven
  • Second Supervisor – Dr Rob James