During the Second World War, the operational significance of Malta’s role in the Mediterranean theatre was unquestioned. Since then, historians have debated the British Chiefs of Staff (COS) and Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s dogmatic desires to retain the tiny island at all costs during operations in the period from 1941-43.1 Seen as an unsinkable carrier and a vital refuge for British submarines intent on severing the Axis’ sea lines of communication (SLOCs) between mainland Europe and North Africa, the surrender of the island was not an option. This strategic decision was not the result of any misguided concepts of British prestige or amour propre, but was due to a sound Royal Navy assessment of what had to be achieved in order to continue to support the British Army in the desert, as well as an insightful appreciation of the symbolic worth of the island’s defence in the realm of alliance formulation and diplomacy.2 The question that must be answered when assessing the operational impact and worth of Malta to British operations in the Mediterranean, primarily in support of the British Army’s campaign in North Africa,3 is to what extent would not having possessed or losing the island have made to British efforts? Indeed, by looking at the resources committed to the defence of the island, the uses made of the island to interdict Axis shipping to North Africa and the cost of such operations, and considering the diplomatic impact the surrender of the island would have had on potential allies, such as the United States, it is possible to use that analysis as a means of measuring whether or not the continued possession of the island was of vital importance to the overall British operational abilities not only in that theatre but to the strategic direction of the British war effort itself. At all times the Royal Navy operations reflected a conscious attempt to influence the battle for the Mediterranean through the use of sea denial, interdiction and naval diplomacy. British efforts in North Africa depended on the Royal Navy strategy providing the conditions for adequate supply to reach army units; on denying the same lines of communication to the enemy forces in the desert; and on providing a symbolic gesture of defiance and resolve. The maintenance of Malta as an operational base was critical to all of the above.