The Solent Branch of the Nautical Institute was formed in 1974 under the Chairmanship of Rear Admiral R D Macdonald and with Lt Cdr M J Plumridge, who was later to become Deputy Secretary of the Nautical Institute from 1984 to 1998, as its first Secretary. With its area covering the major Merchant Navy port of Southampton and the major Royal Navy base of Portsmouth, the aim of the new Branch was to become a professional focal point for the personnel of both services. Meetings and social functions have been held in venues belonging to both sides, particularly in former times HMS Dryad and the Warsash Maritime Academy.
Over the years the Branch has held a number of successful seminars, both by itself and in conjunction with other branches, in recent years with the London Branch.
The Branch remains committed to the principle of including both Royal and Merchant Navy professionals in its activities, and to attracting younger members. It is intended to have more professional meetings jointly with the other maritime institutes and organisations, particularly the Royal Institute of Navigation, the Southampton Master Mariners’ Club, and to exploit maritime venues such as Warsash Maritime Academy lecture theatre.