Sitting three kilometers off the coast of Martinique, just south of the capital Fort de France, is Rocher du Diamant (Diamond Rock). The island got its name from the way its salt-encrusted surface sparkled in the sunlight, and was the scene of early 19th-century battles between the United Kingdom and France. It was at times occupied by both sides, who considered its occupation as strategic in efforts to blockade the island of Martinique.
After capturing the rock during one of these skirmishes, the men under the command of Royal Navy Commodore Sir Samuel Hood, captain of the HMS Centaur, hauled six large cannons to the top. As British naval personnel legally must serve at a commissioned naval station or on a naval vessel, Hood officially commissioned the rock as a naval station. It was given the title HMS Diamond Rock, and it remains so today. If the British Navy ever sails past the rock, they must afford it full honors, with naval personnel required to stand on decks and salute the rock as they pass, despite it sitting on French territory for some time. Officially Martinique is a collectivité territoriale unique, a chartered subdivision of France.
Today, most visitors to the rock are scuba divers. The rock, some 175 meters in height and approximately 1,500 meters in circumference. It is considered the final home of a species of the critically endangered Martinique ground snake (Erythrolamprus cursor). With the last reliable sighting of this snake in 1968, scientists have recently questioned if the species has gone extinct.