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The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's
naval warfare Naval warfare is combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be u ...
force. Although warships were used by
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
and
Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Scotland *Scottish English *Scottish national identity, the Scottish iden ...
kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the
Hundred Years' War The Hundred Years’ War (french: link=yes, La guerre de Cent Ans; 1337–1453) was a series of armed conflicts between the kingdoms of and during the . It originated from disputed claims to the between the English and the French roy ...
against
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its extends from the to the and from the to the and the ; overseas territories include in , in the N ...
. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is consequently known as the Senior Service. From the middle decades of the 17th century, and through the 18th century, the Royal Navy vied with the
Dutch Navy The Royal Netherlands Navy ( nl, Koninklijke Marine, links=no) is the naval force of the Kingdom of the Netherlands ) when they act as Kingdom Ministers, as for example with "Our Minister of Justice in his capacity as Minister of the Kingdom" ...
and later with the
French Navy The French Navy (french: Marine nationale, lit=National Navy), informally , is the of the and one of the five of . It is among the largest and most powerful , ranking seventh in combined fleet tonnage and fifth in number of naval vessels. ...
for maritime supremacy. From the mid 18th century, it was the world's most powerful navy until the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
. The Royal Navy played a key part in establishing and defending the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
, and four Imperial fortress colonies and a string of imperial bases and coaling stations secured the Royal Navy's ability to assert naval superiority globally. Owing to this historical prominence, it is common, even among non-Britons, to refer to it as "the Royal Navy" without qualification. Following
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
, it was significantly reduced in size, although at the onset of World War II it was still the world's largest. During the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of tension between the and the and their respective allies, the and the , which began following . Historians do not fully agree on its starting and ending points, but the period is generally considered to span ...
, the Royal Navy transformed into a primarily anti-submarine force, hunting for
Soviet The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a socialist state A socialist state, socialist republic, or socialist country, sometimes referred to as a workers' state or workers' republic, is a sovere ...
submarines and mostly active in the
GIUK gap Image:GIUK gap.png, 350px, The GIUK gap in the North Atlantic (showing international boundaries as of 1983) The GIUK gap is an area in the northern Atlantic Ocean that forms a naval warfare, naval choke point. Its name is an acronym for ''Greenla ...

GIUK gap
. Following the
collapse of the Soviet Union The dissolution of the Soviet Union, also negatively connoted as rus, Разва́л Сове́тского Сою́за, r=Razvál Sovétskovo Sojúza, ''Ruining of the Soviet Union''. (1988–1991) was the process of internal balkanization, ...
, its focus has returned to expeditionary operations around the world and it remains one of the world's foremost blue-water navies. The Royal Navy maintains a fleet of technologically sophisticated ships, submarines, and aircraft, including 2
aircraft carriers An aircraft carrier is a warship that serves as a seagoing airbase, equipped with a full-length flight deck and facilities for Carrier-based aircraft, carrying, arming, deploying, and recovering aircraft. Typically, it is the capital ship of a ...
, two amphibious transport docks, 4
ballistic missile submarines A ballistic missile submarine is a capable of deploying s (SLBMs) with s. The 's for ballistic missile submarines are SSB and SSBN – the ''SS'' denotes submarine (or submersible ship), the ''B'' denotes , and the ''N'' denotes that the sub ...
(which maintain the
nuclear deterrent Nuclear strategy involves the development of doctrine Doctrine (from la, doctrina, meaning "teaching, instruction") is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teach ...
), 6 nuclear
fleet submarine A fleet submarine is a submarine upright=1.35, Russian ''Akula''-class submarine of the Northern Fleet A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles used in water, includi ...
s, 6
guided missile destroyer A guided-missile destroyer is designed to launch anti-aircraft guided missiles. Many are also equipped to carry out anti-submarine, anti-air, and anti-surface operations. The NATO standard designation for these vessels is DDG. Nations vary i ...
s, 12
frigate A frigate () is a type of warship A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually they belong to the armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is ...
s, 11 mine-countermeasure vessels and 26
patrol vessels A patrol boat (also referred to as a patrol craft, patrol ship or patrol vessel) is a relatively small naval vessel generally designed for coastal defence, border protection, immigration law-enforcement, search and rescue duties. There have ...

patrol vessels
. As of August 2021, there are 75 operational commissioned ships (including submarines as well as one historic ship, ) in the Royal Navy, plus 11 ships of the
Royal Fleet Auxiliary The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) is a naval auxiliary fleet owned by the UK's Ministry of Defence and is the fifth fighting arm of the Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's Navy, naval warfare force. Although warships were ...
(RFA); there are also five Merchant Navy ships available to the RFA under a
private finance initiative The private finance initiative (PFI) was a Her Majesty's Government, United Kingdom government procurement policy aimed at creating "public–private partnerships" (PPPs) where private firms are contracted to complete and manage public projects. ...
. The RFA replenishes Royal Navy warships at sea, and augments the Royal Navy's amphibious warfare capabilities through its three vessels. It also works as a force multiplier for the Royal Navy, often doing patrols that frigates used to do. The Royal Navy is part of
Her Majesty's Naval Service Her Majesty's Naval Service, also known as the Senior Service, is the United Kingdom's naval warfare and Sea, maritime service. It consists of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve and Na ...
, which also includes the
Royal Marines The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is an amphibious Amphibious means able to use either land or water. In particular it may refer to: * ''Amphibious'' (film), a 2010 film * Amphibious aircraft An amphibious aircraft or amphibian is an airc ...
. The professional head of the Naval Service is the
First Sea Lord The First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff (1SL/CNS) is the professional head of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by Kingdom of England, Eng ...
who is an
admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer, general in ...
and member of the
Defence Council of the United Kingdom The Defence Council of the United Kingdom is the body legally entrusted with the defence of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. ...
. The Defence Council delegates management of the Naval Service to the
Admiralty Board Admiralty usually refers to: *Admiralty (United Kingdom), military department in command of the Royal Navy from 1707 to 1964 *The rank of admiral *Admiralty law Admiralty can also refer to: Buildings *Admiralty, Trafalgar Square, a pub in Lond ...
, chaired by the
Secretary of State for Defence The Secretary of State for Defence, also referred to as the Defence Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty' ...
. The Royal Navy operates from three bases in Britain where commissioned ships and submarines are based:
Portsmouth Portsmouth ( ) is a and island with status in the of , southern . It is the most densely populated city in the , with a population last recorded at 238,800. The city forms part of the , which also incorporates , , , , , and . Located mainly ...

Portsmouth
,
ClydeClyde may refer to: People * Clyde (given name) * Clyde (surname) Places For townships see also Clyde Township (disambiguation), Clyde Township Australia * Clyde, New South Wales * Clyde, Victoria * Clyde River, New South Wales Canada * Clyde, A ...

Clyde
and
DevonportDevonport may refer to: * Devonport, Plymouth, Devon, England ** HMNB Devonport, naval base/dockyard ** Plymouth Devonport (UK Parliament constituency), parliamentary constituency formerly known as Devonport * Devonport, New Zealand, a suburb of Auc ...

Devonport
, the last being the largest operational naval base in Western Europe, as well as two naval air stations,
RNAS Yeovilton Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, or RNAS Yeovilton, (HMS ''Heron'') is an airfield of the Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare Naval warfare is human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populo ...
and
RNAS Culdrose Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose (RNAS Culdrose, also known as HMS ''Seahawk''; ICAO The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental ...

RNAS Culdrose
where maritime aircraft are based.


Role

As the seaborne branch of
HM Armed Forces The British Armed Forces, also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces, are the military, military services responsible for the defence of the United Kingdom, its British Overseas Territories, overseas territories and the Crown dependencies. They al ...
, the RN has various roles. As it stands today, the RN has stated its 6 major roles as detailed below in umbrella terms. * Preventing Conflict – On a global and regional level * Providing Security At Sea – To ensure the stability of
international trade International trade is the exchange of capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscul ...
at sea * International Partnerships – To help cement the relationship with the United Kingdom's allies (such as
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental military alliance between 27 European ...
) * Maintaining a Readiness To Fight – To protect the United Kingdom's interests across the globe * Protecting the Economy – To safeguard vital
trade routes A trade route is a Logistics, logistical network identified as a series of pathways and stoppages used for the commercial transport of cargo. The term can also be used to refer to trade over bodies of water. Allowing Good (economics and accounting ...
to guarantee the United Kingdom's and its allies' economic prosperity at sea * Providing Humanitarian Aid – To deliver a fast and effective response to global catastrophes


History

The Royal Navy was formally founded in 1546 by
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July 927, when it emerged fro ...

Henry VIII
though the
Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or ...

Kingdom of England
and its predecessor states had possessed less organised naval forces for centuries prior to this.


Earlier fleets

During much of the medieval period, fleets or "king's ships" were often established or gathered for specific campaigns or actions, and these would disperse afterwards. These were generally merchant ships enlisted into service. Unlike some European states, England did not maintain a small permanent core of warships in peacetime. England's naval organisation was haphazard and the mobilization of fleets when war broke out was slow. Control of the sea only became critical to Anglo-Saxon kings in the 10th century. In the 11th century, Aethelred II had an especially large fleet built by a national levy. During the period of Danish rule in the 11th century, the authorities maintained a standing fleet by taxation, and this continued for a time under
Edward the Confessor Edward the Confessor ( ang, Ēadƿeard Andettere ; la, Eduardus Confessor , ; 1003 – 5 January 1066) was one of the last Anglo-Saxon The Anglo-Saxons were a cultural group Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the so ...

Edward the Confessor
, who frequently commanded fleets in person. After the
Norman Conquest The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of thousands of Normans, Duchy of Brittany, Bretons, County of Flanders, Flemish, and men from other Kingdom of France, French ...
, English naval power waned and England suffered naval raids from the Vikings. In 1069, this allowed for the invasion and ravaging of England by Jarl Osborn (brother of King Svein Estridsson) and his sons. The lack of an organised navy came to a head during the
First Barons' War The First Barons' War (1215–1217) was a civil war in the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin ...
, in which Prince Louis of France invaded England in support of northern barons. With
King John of the King of the Romans (variant used in the early modern period) File:Nezahualpiltzintli.jpg, Aztec King Nezahualpiltzintli of Texcoco King is the title given to a male monarch in a variety of contexts. The female equivalent is queen re ...

King John
unable to organise a navy, this meant the French landed at
Sandwich A sandwich is a food typically consisting of vegetables, sliced cheese or meat, placed on or between slices of bread, or more generally any dish wherein bread serves as a container or wrapper for another food type. The sandwich began as a por ...
unopposed in April 1216. John's flight to
Winchester Winchester is a cathedral city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Routledge. It ...

Winchester
and his death later that year left
the Earl of Pembroke
the Earl of Pembroke
as regent, and he was able to marshal ships to fight the French in the Battle of Sandwich in 1217 – one of the first major English battles at sea. The outbreak of the
Hundred Years War The Hundred Years’ War (french: link=yes, La guerre de Cent Ans; 1337–1453) was a series of armed conflicts between the kingdoms of and during the . It originated from disputed claims to the between the English and the French roy ...

Hundred Years War
emphasised the need for an English fleet. French plans for an invasion of England failed when
Edward III of England Edward III (13 November 1312 – 21 June 1377), also known as Edward of Windsor before his accession, was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England (Latin Latin (, or , ) is ...

Edward III of England
destroyed the French fleet in the
Battle of Sluys The Battle of Sluys (; ), also called the Battle of l'Écluse, was a naval battle fought on 24 June 1340 between England England is a that is part of the . It shares land borders with to its west and to its north. The lies northw ...
in 1340. England's naval forces could not prevent frequent raids on the south-coast ports by the French and their allies. Such raids halted only with the occupation of northern France by
Henry VHenry V may refer to: People * Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor (1081–1125) * Henry V, Count Palatine of the Rhine (1173–1227) * Henry V, Count of Luxembourg (1216–1281) * Henry V, Duke of Legnica (c.  1248 – 1296) * Henry V of Iron (c. 1319 ...

Henry V
. A Scottish fleet existed by the reign of
William the Lion William the Lion ( Mediaeval Gaelic: ''Uilliam mac Eanric'' (i.e. ''William, son of Henry''); Modern Gaelic: ''Uilleam mac Eanraig''), sometimes styled William I, also known by the nickname Garbh, "the Rough",''Uilleam Garbh''; e.g. Annals of ...

William the Lion
.P. F. Tytler, ''History of Scotland, Volume 2'' (London: Black, 1829), pp. 309–310. In the early 13th century there was a resurgence of Viking naval power in the region. The Vikings clashed with Scotland over control of the isles though Alexander III was ultimately successful in asserting Scottish control.A. Macquarrie, ''Medieval Scotland: Kinship and Nation'' (Thrupp: Sutton, 2004), , p. 153. The Scottish fleet was of particular import in repulsing English forces in the early 14th century.N. A. M. Rodger, ''The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain. Volume One 660-1649'' (London: Harper, 1997) pp. 74-90.


Age of Sail

A standing "Navy Royal", with its own secretariat,
dockyards A shipyard (also called a dockyard) is a place where ships are Shipbuilding, built and repaired. These can be yachts, military vessels, cruise liners or other cargo or passenger ships. Dockyards are sometimes more associated with maintenance an ...
and a permanent core of purpose-built warships, emerged during the reign of
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England This list of kings and queens of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 12 July 927, when it emerged fro ...

Henry VIII
. Under
Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster-Scots: ) is an island upright=1.15, Great_Britain.html"_;"title="Ireland_(left)_and_Great_Britain">Ireland_(left)_an ...

Elizabeth I
England became involved in a war with Spain, which saw privately owned vessels combining with the Queen's ships in highly profitable raids against
Spanish Spanish may refer to: * Items from or related to Spain: **Spaniards, a nation and ethnic group indigenous to Spain **Spanish language **Spanish cuisine Other places * Spanish, Ontario, Canada * Spanish River (disambiguation), the name of several ...

Spanish
commerce and colonies. The Royal Navy was then used in 1588 to repulse the
Spanish Armada The Spanish Armada ( es, Grande y Felicísima Armada, links=no, lit=Great and Most Fortunate Navy) was a Habsburg Spain, Habsburg Spanish fleet of 130 ships that sailed from Lisbon in late May 1588 under the command of the Alonso Pérez de Guz ...

Spanish Armada
. In 1603, the
Union of the Crowns The Union of the Crowns ( gd, Aonadh nan Crùintean; sco, Union o the Crouns) was the accession Accession refers to the general idea of joining or adding to. It may also refer to: *Accession (property law) * Accession, the act of joining a tr ...
created a
personal union A personal union is the combination of two or more states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The Stat ...

personal union
between England and Scotland. While the two remained distinct sovereign states for a further century, the two navies increasingly fought as a single force. During the early 17th century, England's relative naval power deteriorated until
Charles ICharles I may refer to: Kings and emperors * Charlemagne (742–814), numbered Charles I in the lists of French and German kings * Charles I of Anjou (1226–1285), also king of Albania, Jerusalem, Naples and Sicily * Charles I of Hungary (1288 ...

Charles I
undertook a major programme of shipbuilding. His methods of financing the fleet contributed to the outbreak of the
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers"), mainly over the manner of Kingdom of England, England's governance and issues of re ...
, and the . The
Commonwealth of England The Commonwealth was the political structure during the period from 1649 to 1660 when England and Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to t ...
replaced many names and symbols in the new commonwealth navy, associated with royalty and the
high church The term ''high church'' refers to beliefs and practices of Christian , , and that emphasize formality and resistance to modernisation. Although used in connection with various , the term originated in and has been principally associated with th ...
, and expanded it to become the most powerful in the world. The fleet was quickly tested in the
First Anglo-Dutch War The First Anglo-Dutch War, or simply the First Dutch War, ( nl, Eerste Engelse (zee-)oorlog, "First English (Sea) War"; 1652–1654) was a conflict fought entirely at sea between the navies of the Commonwealth of England and the Dutch Republic, U ...
(1652–1654) and the
Anglo-Spanish War (1654-1660) Anglo-Spanish War refers to: * Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) The Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) was an intermittent conflict between the kingdoms of Spain , * gl, Reino de España, * oc, Reiaume d'Espanha, , , image_flag = B ...
, which saw the conquest of Jamaica and successful attacks on Spanish treasure fleets. The 1660
Restoration Restoration is the act of restoring something to its original state and may refer to: * Conservation and restoration of cultural heritage * Restoration style Film and television * ''The Restoration'' (1909 film), a film by D.W. Griffith starr ...
saw rename the Royal Navy again, and started use of the prefix HMS. The navy remained a national institution and not a possession of
the Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...

the Crown
as it had been before. Following the
Glorious Revolution The Glorious Revolution of November 1688 ( ga, An Réabhlóid Ghlórmhar; gd, Rèabhlaid Ghlòrmhor; cy, Chwyldro Gogoneddus), the invasion also known as the ''Glorieuze Overtocht'' or Glorious Crossing by the Dutch, was the deposition of ...
of 1688, England joined the
War of the Grand Alliance The Nine Years' War (1688–1697), often called the War of the Grand Alliance or the War of the League of Augsburg, was a conflict between France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is ...
which marked the end of
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its extends from the to the and from the to the and the ; overseas territories include in , in the N ...
's brief pre-eminence at sea and the beginning of an enduring British supremacy. In 1707, the
Scottish navy The Royal Scots Navy (or Old Scots Navy) was the navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a Nation's armed forces principally designated for naval warfare, naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake-borne, riverine, littor ...
was merged into the Royal Navy. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, the Royal Navy was the largest maritime force in the world, maintaining superiority in financing, tactics, training, organisation, social cohesion, hygiene, logistical support and warship design. The peace settlement following the
War of the Spanish Succession The War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714) was an early-18th-century European war, triggered by the death in November 1700 of the childless Charles II of Spain Charles II of Spain (6 November 1661 – 1 November 1700), also known as The ...
(1702–1714) granted Britain
Gibraltar ) , anthem = "" , song = "" , image_map = Gibraltar location in Europe.svg , map_alt = Location of Gibraltar in Europe , map_caption = United Kingdom shown in pale green , mapsize = 290px , image_map2 = Gibraltar map-en-edit2.svg , map ...

Gibraltar
and
Menorca Menorca or Minorca (from la, Insula Minor, , smaller island, later ''Minorica'') is one of the Balearic Islands The Balearic Islands ( , also , ; ca, Illes Balears ; es, Islas Baleares ) are an archipelago An archipelago ( ), some ...

Menorca
, providing the Navy with
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...
bases. The expansion of the Royal Navy would encourage the
British colonization of the Americas The British colonization of the Americas was the history of establishment of control, settlement, and colonization of the continents of the Americas by England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the Un ...
, with
British North America British North America comprised the British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or adminis ...
becoming a vital source of
timber Lumber, also known as timber, is wood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the stems and roots of tree In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated Plant stem, stem, or trunk (botany), trunk, sup ...
for the Royal Navy. A new French attempt to invade Britain was thwarted by the defeat of their escort fleet in the extraordinary Battle of Quiberon Bay in 1759, fought in dangerous conditions. In 1762 the resumption of hostilities with History of Spain (1700–1810), Spain led to the British occupation of Manila, British capture of Manila and of Siege of Havana, Havana, along with a Spanish fleet sheltering there. British naval supremacy could however be challenged still in this period by coalitions of other nations, as seen in the American War of Independence. The United States was Franco-American alliance, allied to France, and the Netherlands and Spain was also at war with Britain. In the Battle of the Chesapeake, the British fleet failed to lift the French blockade, resulting in the surrender of an entire British army at Siege of Yorktown (1781), Yorktown. The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (1793–1801, 1803–1814 & 1815) saw the Royal Navy reach a peak of efficiency, dominating the navies of all Britain's adversaries, which spent most of the war blockaded in port. Under Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, Lord Nelson, the navy defeated the combined Franco-Spanish fleet at Battle of Trafalgar, Trafalgar (1805). Between 1815 and 1914, the Navy saw little serious action, owing to the Pax Britannica, absence of any opponent strong enough to challenge its dominance. During this period, naval warfare underwent a comprehensive transformation, brought about by Steam engine, steam propulsion, metal ship construction, and explosive munitions. Despite having to completely replace its war fleet, the Navy managed to maintain its overwhelming advantage over all potential rivals. Owing to British leadership in the Industrial Revolution, the country enjoyed unparalleled shipbuilding capacity and financial resources, which ensured that no rival could take advantage of these revolutionary changes to negate the British advantage in ship numbers. In 1889, Parliament passed the Naval Defence Act 1889, Naval Defence Act, which formally adopted the 'two-power standard', which stipulated that the Royal Navy should maintain a number of battleships at least equal to the combined strength of the next two largest navies. The end of the 19th century saw structural changes and older vessels were scrapped or placed into reserve, making funds and manpower available for newer ships. The launch of in 1906 rendered all existing battleships obsolete. The transition at this time from coal-fired to petrol-powered ships would encourage Britain to colonize former Ottoman Empire, Ottoman territories in the Middle East, especially Mandatory Iraq, Iraq.


Exploration

The Royal Navy played an historic role in several great global explorations of science and discovery. Beginning in the 18th century many great voyages were commissioned often in co-operation with the Royal Society, such as the Northwest Passage expedition of 1741. James Cook led three great voyages, with goals such as discovering Terra Australis, observing the Transit of Venus and searching for the elusive North-West Passage, these voyages are considered to have contributed to world knowledge and science. In the late 18th century, during a Vancouver Expedition, four year voyage Captain George Vancouver made detailed maps of the Western Coastline of North America. In the 19th century Charles Darwin made further contributions to science during the Second voyage of HMS Beagle. The Ross expedition to the Antarctic made several important discoveries in biology and zoology. Several of the Royal Navy's voyages ended in disaster such as those of Franklin's lost expedition, Franklin and Terra Nova Expedition, Scott.


World Wars

During the First World War, the Royal Navy's strength was mostly deployed at home in the Grand Fleet, confronting the German High Seas Fleet across the North Sea. Several inconclusive clashes took place between them, chiefly the Battle of Jutland in 1916. The British fighting advantage proved insurmountable, leading the High Seas Fleet to abandon any attempt to challenge British dominance. For its part, the Royal Navy under John Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe, John Jellicoe also tried to avoid combat and remained in port at Scapa Flow for much of the war. This was contrary to widespread prewar expectations that in the event of a Continental conflict Britain would primarily provide naval support to the Triple Entente, Entente Powers while sending at most only a small ground army. Nevertheless, the Royal Navy played an important role in securing the British Isles and the English Channel, notably ferrying the entire British Expeditionary Force (World War I), British Expeditionary Force to the Western Front (World War I), Western Front without the loss of a single life at the beginning of the war. At the end of the war, the Royal Navy remained by far the world's most powerful navy. It was larger than the United States Navy, U.S. Navy and
French Navy The French Navy (french: Marine nationale, lit=National Navy), informally , is the of the and one of the five of . It is among the largest and most powerful , ranking seventh in combined fleet tonnage and fifth in number of naval vessels. ...
combined, and over twice as large as the Imperial Japanese Navy and Regia Marina, Royal Italian Navy combined. Its former primary competitor the Imperial German Navy was scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow, destroyed at the end of the war. In the Interwar Britain, inter-war period, the Royal Navy was stripped of much of its power. The Washington Naval Treaty, Washington and London Naval Treaty, London Naval Treaties imposed the scrapping of some capital ships and limitations on new construction. In 1932, the Invergordon Mutiny took place in the Atlantic Fleet (United Kingdom), Atlantic Fleet over the National Government (1931–1935), National Government's proposed 25% pay cut, which was eventually reduced to 10%. International relations (1919–1939), International tensions increased in the mid-1930s and the British re-armament, re-armament of the Royal Navy was well under way by 1938. In addition to new construction, several existing old Battleship, battleships, Battlecruiser, battlecruisers and Heavy cruiser, heavy cruisers were reconstructed, and Anti-aircraft warfare, anti-aircraft weaponry reinforced, while new technologies, such as ASDIC, Huff-Duff and hydrophones, were developed. At the start of World War II in 1939, the Royal Navy was the largest in the world, with over 1,400 vessels The Royal Navy provided critical cover during Operation Dynamo, the British evacuations from Battle of Dunkirk, Dunkirk, and as the ultimate deterrent to a Operation Sea Lion, German invasion of Britain during the following four months. The Luftwaffe under Hermann Göring attempted to gain air supremacy over southern England in the Battle of Britain in order to neutralize the Home Fleet, but faced stiff resistance from the Royal Air Force. The Luftwaffe bombing offensive during the Kanalkampf phase of the battle targeted naval convoys and bases in order to lure large concentrations of RAF fighters into attrition warfare. At Battle of Taranto, Taranto, Andrew Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, Admiral Cunningham commanded a fleet that launched the first all-aircraft naval attack in history. The Royal Navy suffered heavy List of Royal Navy losses in World War II, losses in the first two years of the war. Over 3,000 people were lost when the converted troopship ''RMS Lancastria, Lancastria'' was sunk in June 1940, the greatest maritime disaster in Britain's history. The Navy's most critical struggle was the Battle of the Atlantic defending Britain's vital North America, North American commercial supply lines against U-boat attack. A traditional Convoy, convoy system was instituted from the start of the war, but German submarine tactics, based on group attacks by "Wolfpack (naval tactic), wolf-packs", were much more effective than in the previous war, and the threat remained serious for well over three years.


Since 1945

After the Second World War, the decline of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
and the Economic history of the United Kingdom#1945–2001, economic hardships in Britain forced the reduction in the size and capability of the Royal Navy. The United States Navy instead took on the role of global naval power. Governments since have faced increasing budgetary pressures, partly due to the Upward Spiral, increasing cost of weapons systems. In 1981, Defence Secretary John Nott had advocated and initiated a 1981 Defence White Paper, series of cutbacks to the Navy. The Falklands War however proved a need for the Royal Navy to regain an expeditionary and littoral capability which, with its resources and structure at the time, would prove difficult. At the beginning of the 1980s, the Royal Navy was a force focused on Blue-water navy, blue-water anti-submarine warfare. Its purpose was to search for and destroy Soviet Navy#Submarines, Soviet submarines in the North Atlantic, and to operate the nuclear deterrent submarine force. The navy received its first nuclear weapons with the introduction of the first of the s armed with the Polaris missile.


Post-Cold War

Following the conclusion of the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of tension between the and the and their respective allies, the and the , which began following . Historians do not fully agree on its starting and ending points, but the period is generally considered to span ...
, the Royal Navy began to experience a gradual decline in its fleet size in accordance with the changed strategic environment it operated in. While new and more capable ships are continually brought into service, such as the s, s, and Type 45 destroyer, Type 45 destroyers, the total number of ships and submarines operated has continued to steadily reduce. This has caused considerable debate about the size of the Royal Navy, with a 2013 report finding that the current RN was already too small, and that Britain would have to depend on her allies if her territories were attacked. The financial costs attached to nuclear deterrence have become an increasingly significant issue for the navy.


Royal Navy today


Personnel

at Torpoint, Cornwall is the basic training facility for newly enlisted ratings. Britannia Royal Naval College is the initial officer training establishment for the navy, located at Dartmouth, Devon. Personnel are divided into a Officer Corps of the Royal Navy, warfare branch, which includes Warfare Officers (previously named seamen officers) and Fleet Air Arm, Naval Aviators, as well other branches including the Royal Naval Engineers, Royal Navy Medical Branch, and Logistics Officers (previously named Supply Officers). Present-day officers and ratings have several different Uniforms of the Royal Navy, uniforms; some are designed to be worn aboard ship, others ashore or in ceremonial duties. Women began to join the Royal Navy in 1917 with the formation of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS), which was disbanded after the end of the First World War in 1919. It was revived in 1939, and the WRNS continued until disbandment in 1993, as a result of the decision to fully integrate women into the structures of the Royal Navy. Women now serve in all sections of the Royal Navy including the
Royal Marines The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is an amphibious Amphibious means able to use either land or water. In particular it may refer to: * ''Amphibious'' (film), a 2010 film * Amphibious aircraft An amphibious aircraft or amphibian is an airc ...
. In August 2019, the Ministry of Defence published figures showing that the Royal Navy and Royal Marines had 29,090 full-time trained personnel compared with a target of 30,600. In December 2019 the
First Sea Lord The First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff (1SL/CNS) is the professional head of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by Kingdom of England, Eng ...
, Admiral (Royal Navy), Admiral Tony Radakin outlined a proposal to reduce the number of Rear-Admirals at Navy Command (Ministry of Defence), Navy Command by five. The fighting arms (excluding Commandant General Royal Marines) would be reduced to Commodore (Royal Navy), Commodore (1-star) rank and the surface flotillas would be combined. Training would be concentrated under the Fleet Commander.


Surface fleet


Amphibious warfare

Amphibious warfare ships in current service include two landing platform docks ( and ). While their primary role is to conduct amphibious warfare, they have also been deployed for humanitarian aid missions.


Aircraft carriers

The Royal Navy has two s. Each carrier costs Pound sterling, £3 billion and displaces . The first, , commenced flight trials in 2018. Both are intended to operate the STOVL variant of the F-35 Lightning II. ''Queen Elizabeth'' began sea trials in June 2017, was commissioned later that year, and entered service in 2020, while the second, , began sea trials on 22 September 2019, was commissioned in December 2019 and was declared operational as of October 2021. The aircraft carriers will form a central part of the UK Carrier Strike Group alongside escorts and support ships.


Escort fleet

The escort fleet comprises guided missile destroyers and frigates and is the traditional workhorse of the Navy. there are six Type 45 destroyers and 12 Type 23 frigates in active service. Among their primary roles is to provide escort for the larger capital ships—protecting them from air, surface and subsurface threats. Other duties include undertaking the Royal Navy's Standing Royal Navy deployments, standing deployments across the globe, which often consists of: counter-narcotics, anti-piracy missions and providing humanitarian aid. The Type 45 is primarily designed for Anti-aircraft warfare, anti-aircraft and anti-missile warfare and the Royal Navy describe the destroyer's mission as "to shield the Fleet from air attack". They are equipped with the PAAMS (also known as Sea Viper) integrated anti-aircraft warfare system which incorporates the sophisticated SAMPSON and S1850M long range radars and the Aster (missile family), Aster 15 and 30 missiles. 16 Type 23 frigates were delivered to the Royal Navy, with the final vessel, , commissioned in June 2002. However, the 2004 Delivering Security in a Changing World review announced that three frigates would be paid off as part of a cost-cutting exercise, and these were subsequently sold to the Chilean Navy. The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010, Strategic Defence and Security Review announced that the remaining 13 Type 23 frigates would eventually be replaced by the Type 26 Frigate. The Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 reduced the procurement of Type 26 to eight with five Type 31 frigate, Type 31e frigates to be procured.


Mine countermeasure vessels (MCMV)

There are two classes of Mine countermeasure vessel, MCMVs in the Royal Navy: five s and six s. The Hunt-class vessels combine the separate roles of the traditional minesweeper and the active minehunter in one hull. If required, the ''Sandown-class minehunter, Sandown'' and Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel, Hunt-class vessels can take on the role of offshore patrol vessels.


Offshore patrol vessels (OPV)

Five Batch 2 River-class offshore patrol vessels entered service between 2018 and 2021, with eight in total in the fleet. These have AgustaWestland AW101, Merlin-capable flight decks. In December 2019, the modified Batch 1 River-class vessel, , was decommissioned, with the Batch 2 taking over duties as the Falkland Islands patrol ship.


Ocean survey ships

is a dedicated Antarctic patrol ship that fulfils the nation's mandate to provide support to the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). is an ocean survey vessel and at 13,500 tonnes is one of the largest ships in the Navy. The other survey vessels of the Royal Navy are the two multi-role ships of the , which came into service in 2002 and 2003. As of 2018, the newly commissioned also undertakes survey duties at sea. The Royal Navy also plans to commission a new Multi-Role Ocean Surveillance Ship in 2024, in part to protect undersea cables and gas pipelines.


Royal Fleet Auxiliary

The Navy's large fleet units are supported by the
Royal Fleet Auxiliary The Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) is a naval auxiliary fleet owned by the UK's Ministry of Defence and is the fifth fighting arm of the Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's Navy, naval warfare force. Although warships were ...
which possesses three amphibious transport docks within its operational craft. These are known as the landing ships, of which four were introduced in 2006–2007, but one was sold to the Royal Australian Navy in 2011. In November 2006, the
First Sea Lord The First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff (1SL/CNS) is the professional head of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by Kingdom of England, Eng ...
Admiral Sir Jonathon Band described the Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels as "a major uplift in the Royal Navy's war fighting capability".


Submarine Service

The Submarine Service is the submarine based element of the Royal Navy. It is sometimes referred to as the "''Silent Service''", as the submarines are generally required to operate undetected. Founded in 1901, the service made history in 1982 when, during the Falklands War, became the first nuclear-powered submarine to sink a surface ship, . Today, all of the Royal Navy's submarines are Nuclear marine propulsion, nuclear-powered.


Ballistic missile submarines (SSBN)

The Royal Navy operates four ballistic missile submarines displacing nearly 16,000 tonnes and equipped with Trident (missile), Trident II missiles (armed with Nuclear weapons and the United Kingdom, nuclear weapons) and heavyweight Spearfish torpedoes, with the purpose to carry out Operation Relentless, the United Kingdom's Continuous At Sea Deterrent (CASD). The UK government has committed to replace these submarines with four new s, which will enter service in the "early 2030s" to maintain a nuclear ballistic missile submarine fleet and the ability to launch nuclear weapons.


Fleet submarines (SSN)

Seven
fleet submarine A fleet submarine is a submarine upright=1.35, Russian ''Akula''-class submarine of the Northern Fleet A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles used in water, includi ...
s are presently in commission, three and four . Three more ''Astute''-class fleet submarines will eventually replace the remaining ''Trafalgar''-class boats.Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review
direct.gov.uk
One of the three ''Trafalgar''-class boats, HMS ''Trenchant'', was inactive and being prepared for formal decommissioning. The ''Trafalgar'' class displace approximately 5,300 tonnes when submerged and are armed with Tomahawk (missile), Tomahawk land-attack missiles and Spearfish torpedoes. The ''Astute'' class at 7,400 tonnes are much larger and carry a larger number of Tomahawk missiles and Spearfish torpedoes. was the latest ''Astute''-class boat to be commissioned.


Fleet Air Arm

The Fleet Air Arm (FAA) is the branch of the Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft, it can trace its roots back to 1912 and the formation of the Royal Flying Corps. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland AW101, AW-101 Merlin HC4 (in support of 3 Commando Brigade) as the Commando Helicopter Force; the AgustaWestland AW159, AW-159 Wildcat HM2; the AW101 Merlin HM2 in the anti-submarine role; and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, F-35B Lightning II in the carrier strike role. Pilots designated for rotary wing service train under No. 1 Flying Training School RAF, No. 1 Flying Training School (1 FTS) at RAF Shawbury.


Royal Marines

The Royal Marines are an amphibious, specialised light infantry force of commandos, capable of deploying at short notice in support of Her Majesty's Government's military and diplomatic objectives overseas. The Royal Marines are organised into a highly mobile light infantry brigade (3 Commando Brigade) and 7 commando units including 1 Assault Group Royal Marines, 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines and a company strength commitment to the Special Forces Support Group. The Corps operates in all environments and climates, though particular expertise and training is spent on amphibious warfare, Arctic warfare, mountain warfare, expeditionary warfare and commitment to the UK's Rapid Reaction Force. The Royal Marines are also the primary source of personnel for the Special Boat Service (SBS), the Royal Navy's contribution to the United Kingdom Special Forces. The Corps includes the Royal Marines Band Service, the musical wing of the Royal Navy. The Royal Marines have seen action in a number of wars, often fighting beside the British Army; including in the Seven Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, World War I and World War II. In recent times, the Corps has been deployed in expeditionary warfare roles, such as the Falklands War, the Gulf War, the Bosnian War, the Kosovo War, the Sierra Leone Civil War, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan (2001–present), War in Afghanistan. The Royal Marines have international ties with allied marine forces, particularly the United States Marine Corps and the Netherlands Marine Corps/Korps Mariniers.


Naval bases

The Royal Navy currently uses three major naval port bases in the UK, each housing its own flotilla of ships and boats ready for service, along with two naval air stations and a support facility base in Bahrain:


Bases in the United Kingdom

*HMNB Devonport (HMS ''Drake'') – This is currently the largest operational naval base in Western Europe. Devonport, Plymouth, Devonport's flotilla consists of the RN's two amphibious assault vessels (HM Ships ''Albion'' and ''Bulwark''), and half the fleet of Type 23 frigates. Devonport also homes some of the RN's Submarines service, including two of the s. *HMNB Portsmouth (HMS ''Nelson'') – This is home to the Queen Elizabeth Class supercarriers. Portsmouth is also the home to the Type 45 Daring Class Destroyer and a moderate fleet of Type 23 frigates as well as Fishery Protection Squadrons. *HMNB Clyde (HMS ''Neptune'') – This is situated in Central Scotland along the River Clyde. Faslane is known as the home of the UK's nuclear deterrent, as it maintains the fleet of ''Vanguard''-class ballistic missile (SSBN) submarines, as well as the fleet of ''Astute''-class fleet (SSN) submarines. By 2020, Faslane will become the home to all Royal Navy submarines, and thus the RN Submarine Service. As a result, 43 Commando (Fleet Protection Group) are stationed in Faslane alongside to guard the base as well as The Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport. Moreover, Faslane is also home to Faslane Patrol Boat Squadron (FPBS) who operates a fleet of Archer class patrol vessels. *RNAS Yeovilton (HMS ''Heron'') – Yeovilton is home to Commando Helicopter Force and Wildcat Maritime Force. *RNAS Culdrose (HMS ''Seahawk'') – This is home to Mk2 Merlins, primarily tasked with conducting Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Early Airborne Warning (EAW). RNAS Culdrose (HMS Seahawk), Culdrose is also currently the largest helicopter base in Europe.


Bases abroad

* (Bahrain) – The home port for vessels deployed on Operation Kipion and acts as the hub of the Royal Navy's operations in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and Indian Ocean. Vessels based there include the 9th Mine Counter-Measures Squadron, 9th Mine Countermeasures Squadron, and . * UK Joint Logistics Support Base (Oman) – A logistical support facility which is strategically located in the Middle East but outside the Persian Gulf. * British Defence Singapore Support Unit (Singapore) – A remnant of HMNB Singapore which repairs and resupplies Royal Navy ships in the Asia Pacific. * Gibdock – A former Royal Navy dockyard in
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Gibraltar
which is still used for docking, repairs, training and resupply. The current role of the Royal Navy is to protect British interests at home and abroad, executing the foreign and defence policies of Her Majesty's Government through the exercise of military effect, diplomatic activities and other activities in support of these objectives. The Royal Navy is also a key element of the British contribution to NATO, with a number of assets allocated to NATO tasks at any time. These objectives are delivered via a number of core capabilities: * Maintenance of the UK Nuclear Deterrent through a policy of Vanguard class submarine, ''Continuous at Sea Deterrence'' * Provision of two medium-scale Carrier battle group, maritime task groups with the Fleet Air Arm * Delivery of the UK British Commandos, Commando force * Contribution of assets to the Joint Helicopter Command * Maintenance of Standing Royal Navy deployments, standing patrol commitments * Provision of Minehunter, mine counter measures capability to United Kingdom and allied commitments * Provision of Hydrography, hydrographic and meteorological services deployable worldwide * Protection of Britain's Exclusive Economic Zone


Current deployments

The Royal Navy is currently deployed in different areas of the world, including some standing Royal Navy deployments. These include several home tasks as well as overseas deployments. The Navy is deployed in the Mediterranean as part of standing NATO deployments including mine countermeasures and NATO Maritime Group 2. In both the North and South Atlantic, RN vessels are patrolling. There is always a Falkland Islands patrol vessel on deployment, currently . The Royal Navy operates a Response Force Task Group (a product of the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010, 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review), which is poised to respond globally to short-notice tasking across a range of defence activities, such as non-combatant evacuation operations, disaster relief, humanitarian aid or amphibious operations. In 2011, the first deployment of the task group occurred under the name 'COUGAR 11' which saw them transit through the Mediterranean where they took part in multinational amphibious exercises before moving further east through the Suez Canal for further exercises in the Indian Ocean. In the Persian Gulf, the RN sustains commitments in support of both national and coalition efforts to stabilise the region. The Armilla Patrol, which started in 1980, is the navy's primary commitment to the Gulf region. The Royal Navy also contributes to the combined maritime forces in the Gulf in support of coalition operations. The UK Maritime Component Commander, overseer of all of Her Majesty's warships in the Persian Gulf and surrounding waters, is also deputy commander of the Combined Maritime Forces. The Royal Navy has been responsible for training the fledgeling Iraqi Navy and securing Iraq's oil terminals following the cessation of hostilities in the country. The Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission (Navy) (Umm Qasr), headed by a Royal Navy captain, has been responsible for the former duty whilst Commander Task Force Iraqi Maritime, a Royal Navy commodore, has been responsible for the latter. The Royal Navy contributes to standing NATO formations and maintains forces as part of the NATO Response Force. The RN also has a long-standing commitment to supporting the Five Powers Defence Arrangements countries and occasionally deploys to the Far East as a result. This deployment typically consists of a
frigate A frigate () is a type of warship A warship or combatant ship is a naval ship that is built and primarily intended for naval warfare. Usually they belong to the armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is ...
and a Echo-class survey ship (2002), survey vessel, operating separately. Operation Atalanta, the European Union's anti-piracy operation in the Indian Ocean, is permanently commanded by a senior Royal Navy or Royal Marines officer at Northwood Headquarters and the navy contributes ships to the operation. From 2015, the Royal Navy also re-formed its UK Carrier Strike Group (UKCSG) after it was disbanded in 2011 due to the retirement of HMS Ark Royal (R07), HMS ''Ark Royal'' and Harrier GR9s. The ''Queen Elizabeth''-class aircraft carriers form the central part of this formation, supported by various escorts and support ships, with the aim to facilitate carrier-enabled power projection. The UKCSG first assembled at sea in October 2020 as part of a rehearsal for its first operational deployment in 2021. In 2019, the Royal Navy announced the formation of two Littoral Response Groups as part of a transformation of its amphibious forces. These forward basing, forward-based special operations-capable task groups are to be rapidly-deployable and able to carry out a range of tasks within the littoral, including raids and precision strikes. The first one, based in Europe, became operational in 2021, whilst the second will be based in the Indo-Pacific from 2023. They will centre around two amphibious assault ships, a company of Royal Marines and supporting elements.


Command, control and organisation

The titular head of the Royal Navy is the Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom, Lord High Admiral, a position which was held by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Edinburgh from 2011 until his death in 2021 and since then remains vacant. The position had been held by Queen Elizabeth II from 1964 to 2011; the Monarchy of the United Kingdom, Sovereign is the Commander-in-chief of the British Armed Forces. The professional head of the Naval Service is the
First Sea Lord The First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff (1SL/CNS) is the professional head of the United Kingdom's Royal Navy The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by Kingdom of England, Eng ...
, an
admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank. In the Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth nations and the United States, a "full" admiral is equivalent to a "full" general officer, general in ...
and member of the
Defence Council of the United Kingdom The Defence Council of the United Kingdom is the body legally entrusted with the defence of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. ...
. The Defence Council delegates management of the Naval Service to the
Admiralty Board Admiralty usually refers to: *Admiralty (United Kingdom), military department in command of the Royal Navy from 1707 to 1964 *The rank of admiral *Admiralty law Admiralty can also refer to: Buildings *Admiralty, Trafalgar Square, a pub in Lond ...
, chaired by the
Secretary of State for Defence The Secretary of State for Defence, also referred to as the Defence Secretary, is a senior Minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom The Government of the United Kingdom, domestically referred to as Her Majesty' ...
, which directs the Navy Board, a sub-committee of the Admiralty Board comprising only naval officers and Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom), Ministry of Defence (MOD) civil servants. These are all based in Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)#Property portfolio, MOD Main Building in London, where the First Sea Lord, also known as the Chief of the Naval Staff, is supported by the Naval Staff Department.


Organisation

The Fleet Commander has responsibility for the provision of ships, submarines and aircraft ready for any operations that the Government requires. Fleet Commander exercises his authority through the Navy Command Headquarters, based at in Portsmouth. An operational headquarters, the Northwood Headquarters, at Northwood, London, Northwood, London, is co-located with the Permanent Joint Headquarters of the United Kingdom's armed forces, and a NATO Regional Command, Allied Maritime Command. The Royal Navy was the first of the three armed forces to combine the personnel and training command, under the Principal Personnel Officer, with the operational and policy command, combining the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief, Fleet and Naval Home Command into a single organisation, Fleet Command, in 2005 and becoming Navy Command in 2008. Within the combined command, the Second Sea Lord continues to act as the Principal Personnel Officer. Previously, Flag Officer Sea Training was part of the list of top senior appointments in Navy Command, however, as part of the Navy Command Transformation Programme, the post has reduced from Rear-Admiral to Commodore, renamed as Commander Fleet Operational Sea Training. The Naval Command senior appointments are: Intelligence support to fleet operations is provided by intelligence sections at the various headquarters and from MOD Defence Intelligence, renamed from the Defence Intelligence Staff in early 2010.


Locations

The Royal Navy currently operates from three bases in the United Kingdom where commissioned ships are based;
Portsmouth Portsmouth ( ) is a and island with status in the of , southern . It is the most densely populated city in the , with a population last recorded at 238,800. The city forms part of the , which also incorporates , , , , , and . Located mainly ...

Portsmouth
,
ClydeClyde may refer to: People * Clyde (given name) * Clyde (surname) Places For townships see also Clyde Township (disambiguation), Clyde Township Australia * Clyde, New South Wales * Clyde, Victoria * Clyde River, New South Wales Canada * Clyde, A ...

Clyde
and
DevonportDevonport may refer to: * Devonport, Plymouth, Devon, England ** HMNB Devonport, naval base/dockyard ** Plymouth Devonport (UK Parliament constituency), parliamentary constituency formerly known as Devonport * Devonport, New Zealand, a suburb of Auc ...

Devonport
, Plymouth—Devonport is the largest operational naval base in the UK and Western Europe. Each base hosts a flotilla command under a Commodore (RN), commodore, or, in the case of Clyde, a captain, responsible for the provision of operational capability using the ships and submarines within the flotilla. 3 Commando Brigade
Royal Marines The Corps of Royal Marines (RM) is an amphibious Amphibious means able to use either land or water. In particular it may refer to: * ''Amphibious'' (film), a 2010 film * Amphibious aircraft An amphibious aircraft or amphibian is an airc ...
is similarly commanded by a brigadier and based in Plymouth. Historically, the Royal Navy maintained Royal Navy Dockyards around the world. Dockyards of the Royal Navy are harbours where ships are overhauled and refitted. Only four are operating today; at Devonport, Faslane Naval Base, Faslane, Rosyth Dockyard, Rosyth and at Portsmouth. A Naval Base Review was undertaken in 2006 and early 2007, the outcome being announced by Secretary of State for Defence, Des Browne, confirming that all would remain however some reductions in manpower were anticipated. The academy where initial training for future Royal Navy officers takes place is Britannia Royal Naval College, located on a hill overlooking Dartmouth, Devon. Basic training for future Naval rating, ratings takes place at at Torpoint, Cornwall, close to HMNB Devonport. Significant numbers of naval personnel are employed within the Ministry of Defence, Defence Equipment and Support and on exchange with the British Army, Army and Royal Air Force. Small numbers are also on exchange within other government departments and with allied fleets, such as the United States Navy. The navy also posts personnel in small units around the world to support ongoing operations and maintain standing commitments. Nineteen personnel are stationed in Gibraltar to support the small Gibraltar Squadron, the RN's only permanent overseas squadron. Some personnel are also based at East Cove Military Port and RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands to support APT(S). Small numbers of personnel are based in Diego Garcia (Naval Party 1002), Miami (NP 1011 – AUTEC), Singapore (NP 1022), Dubai (NP 1023) and elsewhere. On 6 December 2014, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office announced it would expand the UK's naval facilities in Bahrain to support larger Royal Navy ships deployed to the Persian Gulf. Once completed, it became the UK's first permanent military base located East of Suez since it withdrew from the region in 1971. The base is reportedly large enough to accommodate Type 45 destroyer, Type 45 destroyers and Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, ''Queen Elizabeth''-class aircraft carriers.


Titles and naming


Of the Navy

The navy was referred to as the "Navy Royal" at the time of its founding in 1546, and this title remained in use into the Stuart period. During the interregnum, the commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell replaced many historical names and titles, with the fleet then referred to as the "Commonwealth Navy". The navy was renamed once again after the restoration in 1660 to the present title. Today, the navy of the United Kingdom is commonly referred to as the "Royal Navy" both in the United Kingdom and other countries. Navies of other Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth countries Commonwealth realm, where the British monarch is also head of state include their national name, e.g. Royal Australian Navy. Some navies of other monarchies, such as the ''Koninklijke Marine'' (Royal Netherlands Navy) and ''Kungliga Flottan'' (Royal Swedish Navy), are also called "Royal Navy" in their own language. The Danish Navy uses the term "Royal" incorporated in its official name (Royal Danish Navy), but only "Flåden" (Navy) in everyday speech. The French Navy, despite France being a republic since 1870, is often nicknamed ''"La Royale"'' (literally: The Royal).


Of ships

Royal Navy ships in commission are prefixed since 1789 with Her Majesty's Ship (His Majesty's Ship), abbreviated to "HMS"; for example, . Submarines are styled HM Submarine, also abbreviated "HMS". Names are allocated to ships and submarines by a naming committee within the MOD and given by class, with the names of ships within a class often being thematic (for example, the Type 23 frigate, Type 23s are named after Duke#United Kingdom, British dukes) or traditional (for example, the s all carry the names of famous historic ships). Names are frequently re-used, offering a new ship the rich heritage, battle honours and traditions of her predecessors. Often, a particular vessel class will be named after the first ship of that type to be built. As well as a name, each ship and submarine of the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary is given a pennant number which in part denotes its role. For example, the destroyer displays the pennant number 'D32'.


Ranks, rates, and insignia

The Royal Navy ranks, rates and insignia form part of the uniform of the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy uniform is the pattern on which many of the uniforms of the other national navies of the world are based (e.g. Ranks and insignia of NATO navies officers, Uniforms of the United States Navy, Uniforms of the Royal Canadian Navy, French Navy#Uniforms, French Naval Uniforms). 1 Rank in abeyance – routine appointments no longer made to this rank, though honorary awards of this rank are occasionally made to senior members of the Royal family and prominent former First Sea Lords.


Customs and traditions


Traditions

The Royal Navy has several formal customs and traditions including the use of ensigns and ships badges. Royal Navy ships have several ensigns used when under way and when in port. Commissioned ships and submarines wear the White Ensign at the stern whilst alongside during daylight hours and at the main-mast whilst under way. When alongside, the ''Union Jack'' is flown from the jackstaff at the bow, and can only be flown under way either to signal a court-martial is in progress or to indicate the presence of an admiral of the fleet on-board (including the Lord High Admiral or the monarch). The Fleet Review, Royal Navy, Fleet Review is an irregular tradition of assembling the fleet before the monarch. The first review on record was held in 1400, and the most recent review was held on 28 June 2005 to mark the bi-centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar; 167 ships from many different nations attended with the Royal Navy supplying 67.


"Jackspeak"

There are several less formal traditions including service nicknames and Naval slang, known as ''"Jackspeak"''. The nicknames include "The Andrew" (of uncertain origin, possibly after a zealous Impressment, press ganger) and "The Senior Service". British sailors are referred to as "Jack" (or "Jenny"), or more widely as "Matelots". Royal Marines are fondly known as "Bootnecks" or often just as "Royals". A compendium of Naval slang was brought together by Commander A. Covey-Crump and his name has in itself become the subject of Naval slang; Covey Crump. A game traditionally played by the Navy is the four-player board game known as "Uckers". This is similar to Ludo (board game), Ludo and it is regarded as easy to learn, but difficult to play well.


Navy cadets

The Royal Navy sponsors or supports three youth organisations: * Volunteer Cadet Corps – consisting of Royal Naval Volunteer Cadet Corps and Royal Marines Volunteer Cadet Corps, the VCC was the first youth organisation officially supported or sponsored by the Admiralty in 1901. * Combined Cadet Force – in schools, specifically the Royal Navy Section and the Royal Marines Section. * Sea Cadet Corps (United Kingdom), Sea Cadets – supporting teenagers who are interested in naval matters, consisting of the Sea Cadets and the Royal Marines Cadets. The above organisations are the responsibility of the CUY branch of Commander Core Training and Recruiting (COMCORE) who reports to Flag Officer Sea Training (United Kingdom), Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST).


In popular culture

The Royal Navy of the 18th century is depicted in many Mutiny on the Bounty (novel), novels and several films dramatising the voyage and mutiny on the Bounty, mutiny on the ''Bounty''. The Royal Navy's Napoleonic campaigns of the early 19th century are also a popular subject of historical novels. Some of the best-known are Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin series and C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower chronicles. The Navy can also be seen in numerous films. The fictional spy James Bond (literary character), James Bond is a commander in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR). The Royal Navy is featured in ''The Spy Who Loved Me (film), The Spy Who Loved Me'', when a nuclear ballistic-missile submarine is stolen, and in ''Tomorrow Never Dies'' when the media mogul Elliot Carver sinks a Royal Navy warship in an attempt to trigger a war between the UK and China, People's Republic of China. ''Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World'' was based on Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey–Maturin series, Aubrey-Maturin series. The ''Pirates of the Caribbean'' series of films also includes the Navy as the force pursuing the Piracy in the Caribbean, eponymous pirates. Noël Coward directed and starred in his own film ''In Which We Serve'', which tells the story of the crew of the fictional HMS ''Torrin'' during the Second World War. It was intended as a British propaganda during World War II, propaganda film and was released in 1942. Coward starred as the ship's Captain (naval), captain, with supporting roles from John Mills and Richard Attenborough. C. S. Forester's Hornblower novels have been Hornblower (TV series), adapted for television. The Royal Navy was the subject of an acclaimed 1970s BBC television drama series, ''Warship (1973 TV series), Warship'', and of a five-part documentary, ''Shipmates'', that followed the workings of the Royal Navy day to day. Television documentaries about the Royal Navy include: ''Empire of the Seas: How the Navy Forged the Modern World'', a four-part documentary depicting Britain's rise as a naval superpower, up until the First World War; ''Sailor (TV series), Sailor'', about life on the aircraft carrier ; and ''Submarine'', about the Submarine Command Course, submarine captains' training course, 'The Perisher'. There have also been Channel 5 (British TV channel), Channel 5 documentaries such as ''Royal Navy Submarine Mission'', following a nuclear-powered fleet submarine. The popular BBC Light Programme radio comedy series ''The Navy Lark'' featured a fictitious warship ("HMS ''Troutbridge''") and ran from 1959 to 1977.


See also

* List of ship names of the Royal Navy (a full historical list) * List of all naval vessels current and former of the United Kingdom *List of equipment in the Royal Navy *Bibliography of 18th–19th century Royal Naval history *List of wars involving the United Kingdom * Future of the Royal Navy * Her Majesty's Coastguard * The Royal British Legion * The Royal Hospital School *
Her Majesty's Naval Service Her Majesty's Naval Service, also known as the Senior Service, is the United Kingdom's naval warfare and Sea, maritime service. It consists of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Naval Reserve, Royal Marines Reserve and Na ...
* "Rule, Britannia!", song


Notes


References


Bibliography

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* Benbow, Tim. "The Royal Navy and sea power in British strategy, 1945–55." ''Historical Research'' 91.252 (2018): 375–398
online
* * Clark, Stephen M., Dieu Hack-Polay, and P. Matthijs Bal. "Social Mobility and Promotion of Officers to Senior Ranks in the Royal Navy: Meritocracy or Class Ceiling?" ''Armed Forces & Society'' (2020): 0095327X2090511
online
* Crimmin, Patricia K. "The Supply of Timber for the Royal Navy, c. 1803–c. 1830." ''The Naval Miscellany'' (Routledge, 2020) pp. 191–234. * Glaser, Darrell, and Ahmed Rahman. "Between the Dockyard and the Deep Blue Sea: Retention and Personnel Economics in the Royal Navy." (2021)
online
* Harding, Richard. "The royal navy, history and the study of leadership." in ''Naval Leadership in the Atlantic World: The Age of Reform and Revolution, 1700-1850'' (2017): 9
online
* Houlberg, Kristian, Jane Wickenden, and Dennis Freshwater. "Five centuries of medical contributions from the Royal Navy." ''Clinical Medicine'' 19.1 (2019): 22+
online
* Kennedy, Paul. ''The rise and fall of British naval mastery'' (Penguin UK, 2017). * LeJacq, Seth Stein. "Escaping court martial for sodomy: Prosecution and its alternatives in the Royal Navy, 1690-1840." ''International Journal of Maritime History'' 33.1 (2021): 16–36. * Lincoln, Margarette. ''Representing the Royal Navy: British Sea Power, 1750–1815'' (Routledge, 2017). * Neufeld, Matthew. "The biopolitics of manning the Royal Navy in late Stuart England." ''Journal of British Studies'' 56.3 (2017): 506–531. * Roberts, Hannah. ''The WRNS in wartime: the Women's Royal Naval Service 1917–1945'' (IB Tauris, 2018) * Seligmann, Matthew S. "A Service Ready for Total War? The State of the Royal Navy in July 1914." ''English Historical Review'' 133.560 (2018): 98–122
online
* Underwood, Patrick, Steven Pfaff, and Michael Hechter. "Threat, Deterrence, and Penal Severity: An Analysis of Flogging in the Royal Navy, 1740–1820." ''Social Science History'' 42.3 (2018): 411–439. * Wilson, Evan. "Particular skills: Warrant officers in the Royal Navy, 1775–1815." in ''A new naval history'' (Manchester University Press, 2018). * ** ** ** ** ** **


External links

*
History of the Royal Navy

Sea Your History – Royal Naval Museum

List of sunken ships of the Royal Navy on the wrecksite

Navy News – Royal Navy Newspaper


Video clips

* * {{Authority control Royal Navy, 16th-century establishments in England 1660 establishments in England 1707 establishments in Great Britain British Armed Forces Military of the United Kingdom Military units and formations established in 1707 Organisations based in the United Kingdom with royal patronage