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A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's
armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...
principally designated for
naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized a ...
and
amphibious warfare Amphibious warfare is a type of offensive Offensive may refer to: * Offensive, the former name of the Dutch political party Socialist Alternative (Netherlands), Socialist Alternative * Offensive (military), an attack * Offensive language ** Fi ...
; namely,
lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a Depression (geology), basin, surrounded by land, and set apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake. Lakes lie on land and are not part of the World Ocean, oc ...

lake
-borne,
river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of wate ...

river
ine,
littoral The littoral zone or nearshore is the part of a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface o ...
, or
ocean The ocean (also the or the world ocean) is the body of that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of and contains 97% of . Another definition is "any of the large bodies of water into which the great ocean is divided".
-borne
combat Combat (French language, French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violence, violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapons) or unarmed (Hand-to-hand combat, not using weapons). Combat is sometim ...

combat
operations and related functions. It includes anything conducted by surface
ships A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, or in support of specialized missions, such as defense, research, and fishing. Ships are generally disti ...

ships
,
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 aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fl ...
ships,
submarine A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional p ...

submarine
s, and seaborne
aviation Aviation is the activities surrounding mechanical flight and the aircraft industry. ''Aircraft'' includes airplane, fixed-wing and helicopter, rotary-wing types, morphable wings, wing-less lifting bodies, as well as aerostat, lighter-than-air ...

aviation
, as well as ancillary support, communications, training, and other fields. The strategic offensive role of a navy is
projection of force Power projection (or force projection) is a term used in military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and ma ...
into areas beyond a country's shores (for example, to protect sea-lanes, deter or confront
piracy Piracy is an act of robbery Robbery is the crime In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state or other authority. The term ''crime'' does not, in modern criminal law, have any simple and universally accepted ...

piracy
, ferry troops, or attack other navies, ports, or shore installations). The strategic defensive purpose of a navy is to frustrate seaborne projection-of-force by enemies. The strategic task of the navy also may incorporate
nuclear deterrence Deterrence theory refers to scholarship and practice on how threats or limited force by one party can convince another party to refrain from initiating some course of action. The topic gained increased prominence as a military strategy Strateg ...
by use of
submarine-launched ballistic missile A submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is a ballistic missile A ballistic missile follows a ballistic trajectory to deliver one or more warheads on a predetermined target. These weapons are guided only during relatively brief periods ...
s. Naval operations can be broadly divided between riverine and littoral applications (
brown-water navy The term brown-water navy or riverine navy refers in its broadest sense to any naval force capable of military operations in river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or anoth ...
), open-ocean applications (
blue-water navy A blue-water navy is a maritime force capable of operating globally, essentially across the deep waters of open oceans. While definitions of what actually constitutes such a force vary, there is a requirement for the ability to exercise sea cont ...
), and something in between (
green-water navy A green-water navy is a maritime force that is capable of operating in its nation's littoral zone The littoral zone or nearshore is the part of a sea, lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by ...
), although these distinctions are more about strategic scope than tactical or operational division.


Etymology and meanings

First attested in English in the early 14th century, the word "navy" came via
Old French Old French (, , ; Modern French French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular o ...
''navie'', "fleet of ships", from the
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 "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
''navigium'', "a vessel, a ship, bark, boat", from ''navis'', "ship". The word "naval" came from Latin ''navalis'', "pertaining to ship";
cf. The abbreviation ''cf.'' (short for the la, confer/conferatur, both meaning 'compare') is used in writing to refer the reader to other material to make a comparison with the topic being discussed. Style guides recommend that ''cf.'' be used only ...
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
(''naus''), "ship", (''nautes''), "seaman, sailor". The earliest attested form of the word is in the
Mycenaean Greek Mycenaean Greek is the most ancient attested form of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''Elliniká'', Ancient Greek, ancient , ''Hellēnikḗ'') is an independent branch of the Indo-European languages, Indo-European family of lan ...
compound word , ''na-u-do-mo'' (*), "shipbuilders", written in
Linear B Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, the earliest attested form of Greek. The script predates the Greek alphabet The Greek alphabet has been used to write the Greek language since the late ninth or ...
syllabic script. The word formerly denoted fleets of both commercial and military nature. In modern usage "navy" used alone always denotes a military fleet, although the term "
merchant navy
merchant navy
" for a commercial fleet still incorporates the non-military
word sense In linguistics, a word sense is one of the meanings of a word. Words are in two sets: a large set with multiple meanings (word senses) and a small set with only one meaning (word sense). For example, a dictionary may have over 50 different senses of ...
. This overlap in word senses between commercial and military fleets grew out of the inherently dual-use nature of fleets; centuries ago, nationality was a trait that unified a fleet across both civilian and military uses. Although nationality of commercial vessels has little importance in peacetime trade other than for
tax avoidance Tax avoidance is the legal usage of the tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law, a legal person is any person A person (plural people or persons ...
, it can have greater meaning during wartime, when
supply chain In , a supply chain is a system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in supplying a or to a consumer. Supply chain activities involve the transformation of s, s, and components into a finished product and de ...

supply chain
s become matters of patriotic attack and defense, and when in some cases private vessels are even temporarily converted to military vessels. The latter was especially important, and common, before 20th-century military technology existed, when merely adding
artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications dur ...

artillery
and
naval infantry Marines, or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate in littoral zones The littoral zone or nearshore is the part of a sea, lake A lake is an area filled with water, localized in a basin, surrounded by land ...
to any sailing vessel could render it fully as martial as any military-owned vessel. Such
privateer A privateer is a private person or ship that engages in maritime warfare under a commission of war. Since robbery under arms was a common aspect of seaborne trade, until the early 19th century all merchant ships carried arms. A sovereign or deleg ...
ing has been rendered obsolete in blue-water strategy since modern missile and aircraft systems grew to leapfrog over artillery and infantry in many respects; but privateering nevertheless remains potentially relevant in
littoral warfareImage:Us navy rhib.jpg, 300px, Rigid-hulled_inflatable_boat, RHIB deployed from a US Navy destroyer operating in a littoral area In military and naval warfare, littoral warfare is operations in and around the littoral zone, within a certain distance ...
of a limited and asymmetric nature.


History

Naval warfare developed when humans first fought from water-borne vessels. Before the introduction of the
cannon A cannon is a large-caliber A 45 ACP hollowpoint (Federal Cartridge, Federal HST) with two .22 Long Rifle, 22 LR cartridges for comparison In gun A gun is a ranged weapon designed to use a shooting tube ( gun barrel) to launc ...

cannon
and ships with enough capacity to carry them, navy warfare primarily involved ramming and boarding actions. In the time of
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era wa ...
and the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, naval warfare centered on long, narrow vessels powered by banks of oarsmen (such as
trireme A trireme (, ; derived from Latin: ''trirēmis'' "with three banks of oars"; 'triērēs'', ''literally "three-rower") was an ancient vessel and a type of galley A galley is a type of ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the w ...

trireme
s and
quinquereme From the 4th century BC on, new types of galley, oared warships appeared in the Mediterranean Sea, superseding the trireme and transforming naval warfare. Ships became increasingly large and heavy, including some of the largest wooden ships hither ...
s) designed to ram and sink enemy vessels or come alongside the enemy vessel so its occupants could be attacked hand-to-hand. Naval warfare continued in this vein through the
Middle Ages In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
until the cannon became commonplace and capable of being reloaded quickly enough to be reused in the same battle. The
Chola Dynasty The Chola dynasty ( ta, சோழ வம்சம்) was a Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysian ...

Chola Dynasty
of medieval
Tamil Nadu Tamil Nadu (; ) is a States and union territories of India, state in South India, southern India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Lying in the southern-most part of the Indian subcontinent, Tamil Nadu is bordered by the Indian union t ...

Tamil Nadu
was known as one of the greatest naval powers of its time from 300 BC to 1279 AD. The
Chola Navy The Chola Navy (Tamil: சோழர் கடற்படை; Transliteration: ''Cōḻar kadatpadai'') comprised the naval forces of the Chola Dynasty, Chola Empire (4th Century BCE – 1279 CE), a Tamil people, Tamil thalassocratic empire of s ...
, Chola kadarpadai comprised the naval forces of the
Chola Empire The Chola dynasty ( ta, சோழ வம்சம்) was a Tamil Tamil may refer to: * Tamils, an ethnic group native to India, Sri Lanka and some other parts of Asia **Sri Lankan Tamils, Tamil people native to Sri Lanka **Tamil Malaysian ...

Chola Empire
along with several other Naval-arms of the country. The Chola navy played a vital role in the expansion of the Chola Tamil kingdom, including the conquest of the
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
islands, Kadaaram (Present day Burma), Sri Vijaya (present day Southeast Asia), the spread of Hinduism,
Tamil architecture Nearly 33,000 ancient temples, many at least 800 to 2000 years old, are found scattered all over Tamil Nadu. As per Tamil Nadu Hindu Endowments Board, there are 38615 Temples. Most of the List of largest Hindu temples, largest Hindu Temples res ...
and
Tamil culture Tamil culture is the culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior among two or more organisms within the same species, and encompasses any behavior in which one member affects t ...
to Southeast Asia and in curbing the piracy in Southeast Asia in 900 CE. In
ancient China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was mentioned as the twenty-first Shang king by the same. Ancient hi ...
, large naval battles were known since the
Qin dynasty The Qin dynasty, or Ch'in dynasty in Wade–Giles Wade–Giles () is a Romanization of Chinese, romanization system for Standard Chinese, Mandarin Chinese. It developed from a system produced by Thomas Francis Wade, during the mid-19th ...

Qin dynasty
(''also see''
Battle of Red Cliffs The Battle of Red Cliffs, also known as the Battle of Chibi, was a decisive naval battle in the winter of 208–209 C.E. at the end of the Han dynasty The end of the Han dynasty refers to the period of Chinese history The earliest kno ...
, 208), employing the war junk during the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
. However, China's first official standing navy was not established until the
Southern Song dynasty The Song dynasty (; ; 960–1279) was an that began in 960 and lasted until 1279. The dynasty was founded by following his usurpation of the throne of the , ending the . The Song often came into conflict with the contemporaneous , and dynas ...
in the 12th century, a time when
gunpowder Gunpowder, also commonly known as black powder to distinguish it from modern smokeless powder Finnish smokeless powder Smokeless powder is a type of propellant used in firearms and artillery that produces less smoke and less fouling when fir ...
was a revolutionary new application to warfare.
Nusantara ''Nusantara'' is the Indonesian name of Maritime Southeast Asia (or parts of it). It is an Old Javanese Kawi or Old Javanese is the oldest attested phase of the Javanese language. It was spoken in the eastern part of what is now Central Ja ...
n
thalassocracies A thalassocracy or thalattocracy (from grc-x-classical, θάλασσα, translit=thalassa () , and grc, κρατεῖν, translit=kratein, lit=power; giving grc-x-koine, θαλασσοκρατία, translit=thalassokratia, lit=sea power) is a s ...
made extensive use of naval power and technologies. This enabled the seafaring Malay people to attack as far as the coast of
Tanzania Tanzania (; ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern subregion of the Africa Africa is the world's second-larges ...

Tanzania
and
Mozambique Mozambique (), officially the Republic of Mozambique ( pt, Moçambique or , ; ny, Mozambiki; sw, Msumbiji; ts, Muzambhiki), is a country located in Southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-lar ...

Mozambique
with 1000 boats and attempted to take the citadel of Qanbaloh, about 7,000 km to their West, in 945-946 AD. In 1350 AD
Majapahit The Majapahit () was a Javanese people, Javanese Hinduism, Hindu thalassocracy, thalassocratic empire in Southeast Asia that was based on the island of Java (in modern-day Indonesia). It existed from 1293 to circa 1527 and reached its peak of ...

Majapahit
launched its largest military expedition, the invasion of
Pasai The Samudera Pasai Sultanate, also known as Samudera or Pasai or Samudera Darussalam or Pacem, was a Muslim harbour kingdom on the north coast of Sumatra Sumatra is one of the Sunda Islands of western Indonesia. It is the largest island th ...
, with 400 large jong and innumerable smaller vessels. The second largest military expedition, invasion of Singapura in 1398, Majapahit deployed 300 jong with no less than 200,000 men. The mass and deck space required to carry a large number of cannon made oar-based propulsion impossible, and ships came to rely primarily on
sail A sail is a tensile structure by Vladimir Shukhov (during construction), Nizhny Novgorod, 1895 in Kings Domain, Melbourne A tensile structure is a construction of elements carrying only tension (physics), tension and no compression (physical ...
s. Warships were designed to carry increasing numbers of cannon and
naval tactics Naval tactics and doctrine is the collective name for methods of engaging and defeating an enemy ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, ...
evolved to bring a ship's firepower to bear in a
broadside ship of the line A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed during the Age of Sail from the 17th century to the mid-19th century. The ship of the line was designed for the naval tactics in the Age of Sail, naval tactic known as ...
, with
ships-of-the-line A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed during the Age of Sail from the 17th century to the mid-19th century. The ship of the line was designed for the naval tactics in the Age of Sail, naval tactic known as the line of battle ...
arranged in a
line of battle In naval warfare Naval warfare is human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, lang ...
. The development of large capacity, sail-powered ships carrying cannon led to a rapid expansion of
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of scienc ...

Europe
an navies, especially the
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
and
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
navies which dominated in the 16th and early 17th centuries, and helped propel the
age of exploration The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration (sometimes also, particularly regionally, Age of Contact or Contact Period), is an informal and loosely defined term for the early modern period The early modern period of modern history ...
and
colonialism Colonialism is a practice or policy of control by one people or power over other people or areas, often by establishing colony, colonies and generally with the aim of economic dominance. In the process of colonisation, colonisers may impose the ...

colonialism
. The repulsion of 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
(1588) by the English fleet revolutionized naval warfare by the success of a guns-only strategy and caused a major overhaul of the
Spanish Navy The Spanish Navy ( es, link=no, Armada Española) is the Navy, maritime branch of the Spanish Armed Forces and one of the oldest active naval forces in the world. The Spanish navy was responsible for a number of major historic achievements in na ...
, partly along
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
lines, which resulted in even greater dominance by the Spanish. From the beginning of the 17th century the Dutch cannibalized the
Portuguese Empire The Portuguese Empire ( pt, Império Português), also known as the Portuguese Overseas (''Ultramar Português'') or the Portuguese Colonial Empire (''Império Colonial Português''), was composed of the overseas colonies In political scie ...
in the East and, with the immense wealth gained, challenged Spanish
hegemony Hegemony (, , ) is the political, economic, and military predominance of one state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (new ...
at sea. From the 1620s, Dutch raiders seriously troubled Spanish shipping and, after a number of battles which went both ways, 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" ...
finally broke the long dominance of the Spanish Navy in the
Battle of the Downs The naval Battle of the Downs took place on 21 October 1639 (New Style Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) indicate a dating system from before and after a calendar change, respectively. Usually this is the change from the Julian calen ...
(1639).
England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to its west and Scotland to its north. The Irish Sea lies northwest of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. E ...

England
emerged as a major naval power in the mid-17th century in the first Anglo-Dutch war with a technical victory. Successive decisive Dutch victories in the second and third Anglo-Dutch Wars confirmed the Dutch mastery of the seas during the
Dutch Golden Age The Dutch Golden Age ( nl, Gouden Eeuw ) was a period in the history of the Netherlands, roughly spanning the era from 1588 (the birth of the Dutch Republic) to 1672 (the Rampjaar, "Disaster Year"), in which Dutch trade, science, and Dutch art, ...
, financed by the expansion of the
Dutch Empire The Dutch colonial empire ( nl, Nederlandse koloniale rijk) comprised the overseas territories and trading posts controlled and administered by Dutch chartered companies—mainly the Dutch West India Company The Dutch West India Company ( n ...
. The
French Navy The French Navy (french: Marine nationale, lit=National Navy), informally , is the maritime arm of the French Armed Forces The French Armed Forces (french: Forces armées françaises) encompass the Army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "ar ...
won some important victories near the end of the 17th century but a focus upon land forces led to the French Navy's relative neglect, which allowed the
Royal Navy 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 ...
to emerge with an ever-growing advantage in size and quality, especially in tactics and experience, from 1695. As a response to growing naval influence of the navies of Portuguese, the warrior king of the Marathas,
Shivaji Shivaji Bhonsale I (; 19 February 1630 – 3 April 1680), also referred to as Chhatrapati Shivaji, was an Indian ruler and a member of the Bhonsle The Bhonsle (or Bhonsale, Bhosale, Bhosle, Bhonslà) are a prominent group within the Ma ...
laid the foundation of the Maratha navy in 1654. Throughout the 18th century the Royal Navy gradually gained ascendancy over the French Navy, with victories in the
War of 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. It established the principle that dynastic rights were secondary to maintain ...
(1701–1714), inconclusive battles in the
War of Austrian Succession The War of the Austrian Succession () was the last Great Power conflict with the Bourbon- Habsburg dynastic conflict at its heart. It occurred from 1740 to 1748 and marked the rise of Prussia Prussia, , Old Prussian: ''Prūsa'' or ''Prūs ...
(1740–1748), victories in the
Seven Years' War The Seven Years' War (1756–1763) is widely considered to be the first global conflict in history, and was a struggle for world supremacy between Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain and Kingdom of France, France. In Europe, the conflict ar ...
(1754–1763), a partial reversal during the
American War of Independence The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from thirteen American colonies of British America British America comprised the colon ...
(1775–1783), and consolidation into uncontested supremacy during the 19th century from the
Battle of Trafalgar The Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805) was a naval battle, naval engagement between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy, French and Spanish Navy, Spanish Navies during the War of the Third Coalition (August–D ...

Battle of Trafalgar
in 1805. These conflicts saw the development and refinement of
tactics Tactic(s) or Tactical may refer to: * Tactic (method), a conceptual action implemented as one or more specific tasks ** Military tactics, the disposition and maneuver of units on a particular sea or battlefield ** Chess tactics ** Political tactic ...
which came to be called the
line of battle In naval warfare Naval warfare is human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, hairlessness, and intelligence allowing the use of culture, lang ...
. The next stage in the evolution of naval warfare was the introduction of
metal plating Plating is a surface covering in which a metal is deposited on a conductive surface. Plating has been done for hundreds of years; it is also critical for modern technology. Plating is used to decorate objects, for corrosion inhibition, to improve ...
along the hull sides. The increased mass required steam-powered engines, resulting in an arms race between armor and weapon thickness and firepower. The first armored vessels, the French and British , made wooden vessels obsolete. Another significant improvement came with the invention of the rotating turrets, which allowed the guns to be aimed independently of ship movement. The battle between and during the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon nove ...
(1861–1865) is often cited as the beginning of this age of maritime conflict. The
Russian Navy )Slow – "''Гвардейский встречный марш Военно-морского флота''" () , mascot = , equipment = 1 aircraft carrier An aircraft carrier is a warship that serve ...
was considered the third strongest in the world on the eve of the
Russo-Japanese War The Russo-Japanese War (russian: Ру́сско-япóнская войнá, Rússko-yapónskaya voyná; ja, 日露戦争, Nichiro sensō, Japanese-Russian War) was fought between the Empire of Japan The was a historical natio ...
, which turned to be a catastrophe for the Russian military in general and the Russian Navy in particular. Although neither party lacked courage, the Russians were defeated by the Japanese in the Battle of Port Arthur, which was the first time in warfare that mines were used for offensive purposes. The warships of the Baltic Fleet sent to the Far East were lost in the Battle of Tsushima. A further step change in naval firepower occurred when the United Kingdom launched in 1906, but
naval tactics Naval tactics and doctrine is the collective name for methods of engaging and defeating an enemy ship A ship is a large watercraft that travels the world's oceans and other sufficiently deep Sea lane, waterways, carrying goods or passengers, ...
still emphasized the line of battle. The first practical military
submarine A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional p ...

submarine
s were developed in the late 19th century and by the end of
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
had proven to be a powerful arm of naval warfare. During
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
,
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was ...

Nazi Germany
's submarine fleet of
U-boat U-boats were naval submarines operated by Germany, particularly in the First First or 1st is the ordinal form of the number one (#1). First or 1st may also refer to: *World record A world record is usually the best global and most importa ...

U-boat
s almost starved the United Kingdom into submission and inflicted tremendous losses on U.S. coastal shipping. The , a
sister ship A sister ship is a ship of the same Ship class, class or of virtually identical design to another ship. Such vessels share a nearly identical hull and superstructure layout, similar size, and roughly comparable features and equipment. They of ...
of , was almost put out of action by miniature submarines known as
X-Craft The X class was a World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's c ...
. The X-Craft severely damaged her and kept her in port for some months. A major paradigm shift in naval warfare occurred with the introduction of the
aircraft carrier An aircraft carrier is a that serves as a seagoing , equipped with a full-length and facilities for . Typically, it is the of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to worldwide without depending on . Carriers have evolved since their incepti ...
. First at
Taranto Taranto (, also ; ; nap, label=Tarantino Quentin Jerome Tarantino (; born March 27, 1963) is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. His films are characterized by nonlinear narrative, nonlinear storylines, dark humo ...
in 1940 and then at
Pearl Harbor Pearl Harbor is an American lagoon File:Kara-Bogaz Gol from space, September 1995.jpg, Garabogazköl, Garabogaz-Göl lagoon in Turkmenistan A lagoon is a shallow body of water separated from a larger body of water by a narrow landform, su ...

Pearl Harbor
in 1941, the carrier demonstrated its ability to strike decisively at enemy ships out of sight and range of surface vessels. The
Battle of Leyte Gulf The Battle of Leyte Gulf (Filipino Filipino may refer to: * Something from or related to the Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas or ''Filipinas'' ), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas), ...
(1944) was arguably the
largest naval battle in historyThe title of the "largest naval battle Naval warfare is human combat in and on the sea, the ocean, or any other battlespace involving a major body of water such as a large lake or wide river. History Mankind has fought battles on the sea for mor ...
; it was also the last battle in which battleships played a significant role. By the end of
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, the carrier had become the dominant force of naval warfare. World War II also saw the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
become by far the largest Naval power in the world. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the
United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = "Anchors Aweigh" , mascot = , equipment = List of equipment of the United St ...
possessed over 70% of the world's total numbers and total tonnage of naval vessels of 1,000 tons or greater.Weighing the US Navy Defense & Security Analysis, Volume 17, Issue December 3, 2001, pp 259-265 Throughout the rest of the 20th century, the
United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unofficial). , colors = Blue and gold  , colors_label = Colors , march = "Anchors Aweigh" , mascot = , equipment = List of equipment of the United St ...
would maintain a tonnage greater than that of the next 17 largest navies combined. During the
Cold War The Cold War was a period of geopolitical Geopolitics (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country loc ...
, the
Soviet Navy The Soviet Navy () was the naval warfare Military, uniform service branch of the Soviet Armed Forces. Often referred to as the Red Fleet (), the Soviet Navy made up a large part of the Soviet Union's strategic planning in the event of a confli ...
became a significant armed force, with large numbers of large, heavily armed
ballistic missile submarine upright=1.35, Soviet Project 667BD (Delta II class) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine A ballistic missile submarine is a submarine capable of deploying submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with nuclear warheads. The United S ...
s and extensive use of heavy, long-ranged antisurface missiles to counter the numerous United States
carrier battle group A carrier battle group (CVBG) is a naval fleet consisting of an aircraft carrier (designated CV) capital ship and its large number of naval convoy, escorts, together defining the group. The first naval task forces built around carriers appea ...
s. Only two nations, the United States and
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
, presently operate
CATOBAR CATOBAR ("Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery" or "Catapult Assisted Take-Off Barrier Arrested Recovery") is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier An aircraft carrier is a ...
carriers of any size, while
Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe Eastern Europe is the eastern region of . There is no consistent definition of the precise area it covers, partly because th ...

Russia
,
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere ...

China
and
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
operate sizeable
STOBAR STOBAR ("Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery" or "Short Take-Off, Barrier Arrested Recovery") is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier An aircraft carrier is a warship that serves as a sea ...
carriers (although all three are originally of Russian design). 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 Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
is also operating two carriers, which are the largest
STOVL A short take-off and vertical landing aircraft (STOVL aircraft) is a fixed-wing aircraft A fixed-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine Early flying machines include all forms of aircraft studied or constructed before the ...
vessels in service, and India is currently building one aircraft carrier, , and considering another. France is also looking at a new carrier, probably using a CATOBAR system and possibly based on the British ''Queen Elizabeth'' design.


Operations

A navy typically operates from one or more
naval base A naval base, navy base, or military port is a military base, where warships and naval ships are docked when they have no mission at sea or need to restock. Ships may also undergo repairs. Some naval bases are temporary homes to aircraft tha ...
s. The base is a
port A port is a maritime law, maritime facility comprising one or more Wharf, wharves or loading areas, where ships load and discharge Affreightment, cargo and passengers. Although usually situated on a sea coast or estuary, ports can a ...

port
that is specialized in naval operations, and often includes housing, a
munitions depot
munitions depot
, docks for the vessels, and various repair facilities. During times of war temporary bases may be constructed in closer proximity to strategic locations, as it is advantageous in terms of patrols and station-keeping. Nations with historically strong naval forces have found it advantageous to obtain basing rights in other countries in areas of strategic interest. Navy ships can operate independently or with a group, which may be a small
squadron Squadron may refer to: * Squadron (army), a military unit of cavalry, tanks, or equivalent subdivided into troops or tank companies * Squadron (aviation), a military unit that consists of three or four flights with a total of 12 to 24 aircraft, dep ...
of comparable ships, or a larger
naval fleet A fleet or naval fleet is a large formation Formation may refer to: Linguistics * Back-formation, the process of creating a new lexeme by removing or affixes * Word formation, the creation of a new word by adding affixes Mathematics and scien ...
of various specialized ships. The commander of a fleet travels in the
flagship A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer The commanding officer (CO) or sometimes, if the incumbent is a general officer A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, spac ...
, which is usually the most powerful vessel in the group. Before radio was invented, commands from the flagship were communicated by means of flags. At night signal lamps could be used for a similar purpose. Later these were replaced by the radio transmitter, or the flashing light when radio silence was needed. A "
blue water navy upright 1.6, USS ''Abraham Lincoln'' leads a formation of ships from eight countries during the Exercise RIMPAC in 2006. A blue-water navy is a maritime force capable of operating globally, essentially across the deep waters of open oceans. Wh ...
" is designed to operate far from the coastal waters of its home nation. These are ships capable of maintaining station for long periods of time in deep ocean, and will have a long logistical tail for their support. Many are also nuclear powered to save having to refuel. By contrast a "
brown water navy The term brown-water navy or riverine navy refers in its broadest sense to any naval force capable of military operations in river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or anoth ...
" operates in the coastal periphery and along inland waterways, where larger ocean-going naval vessels can not readily enter. Regional powers may maintain a " green water navy" as a means of localized force projection. Blue water fleets may require specialized vessels, such as
minesweeper underway in British coastal waters during World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast ma ...
s, when operating in the
littoral The littoral zone or nearshore is the part of a sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface ...

littoral
regions along the coast.


Traditions

A basic tradition is that all ships commissioned in a navy are referred to as ships rather than vessels, with the exception of destroyers and submarines, which are known as boats. The prefix on a ship's name indicates that it is a commissioned ship. An important tradition on board naval vessels of some nations has been the
ship's bell Image:Titanic bell.JPG, Bell from RMS ''Titanic'' File:Eight Bells.jpg, ''Eight Bells (painting), Eight Bells'' (1887) by Winslow Homer A ship's bell is a bell on a ship that is used for the indication of time as well as other traditional funct ...
. This was historically used to mark the passage of time, as warning devices in heavy fog, and for alarms and ceremonies. The ship's captain, and more senior officers are "piped" aboard the ship using a
Boatswain's call A boatswain's call, pipe or bosun's whistle is a pipe or a non-diaphragm type whistle used on naval ships by a boatswain. It is pronounced, and sometimes spelled, "bosun's call". The pipe consists of a narrow tube (the gun) which directs air o ...
. In the United States, the
First Navy Jack The First Navy Jack was the naval jack A jack is a flag flown from a short jackstaff at the Bow (ship), bow (front) of a vessel, while the ensign is flown on the stern (rear). Jacks on bowsprits or foremasts appeared in the 17th century. A cou ...
is a flag that has the words, "Don't Tread on Me" on the flag. By English tradition, ships have been referred to as a "she". However, it was long considered bad luck to permit women to sail on board naval vessels. To do so would invite a terrible storm that would wreck the ship. The only women that were welcomed on board were
figurehead In politics, a figurehead is a person who ''de jure In law and government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative ...

figurehead
s mounted on the prow of the ship. Firing a cannon salute partially disarms the ship, so firing a cannon for no combat reason showed respect and trust. As the tradition evolved, the number of cannon fired became an indication of the rank of the official being saluted.


Naval organization


Ships

Historically, navy ships were primarily intended for warfare. They were designed to withstand damage and to inflict the same, but only carried munitions and supplies for the voyage (rather than merchant cargo). Often, other ships which were not built specifically for warfare, such as the
galleon on the "Suez Expedition" (part of the Portuguese Armada of 72 ships sent against the Ottoman fleet anchor in Suez, Egypt, in response to its entry in the Indian Ocean and the siege of Diu in 1538) – ''Tábuas da India'' in the João de Cast ...
or the armed merchant ships in
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
, did carry armaments. In more recent times, navy ships have become more specialized and have included supply ships, troop transports, repair ships, oil tankers and other logistics support ships as well as combat ships. Modern navy combat ships are generally divided into seven main categories:
aircraft carrier An aircraft carrier is a that serves as a seagoing , equipped with a full-length and facilities for . Typically, it is the of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to worldwide without depending on . Carriers have evolved since their incepti ...
s,
cruiser A cruiser is a type of . Modern cruisers are generally the largest ships in a fleet after s and s, and can usually perform several roles. The term "cruiser", in use for several hundred years, has changed its meaning over time. During the , ...

cruiser
s,
destroyer In navy, naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast, maneuverable, long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a Naval fleet, fleet, convoy or Carrier battle group, battle group and defend them against powerful short range attacke ...

destroyer
s,
frigate A frigate () is a type of warship A warship or combatant ship is a that is built and primarily intended for . Usually they belong to the of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faste ...

frigate
s,
corvette A corvette is a small warship. It is traditionally the smallest class of vessel considered to be a proper (or Rating system of the Royal Navy, "rated") warship. The warship class above the corvette is that of the frigate, while the class below wa ...

corvette
s,
submarine A submarine (or sub) is a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles A vehicle (from la, vehiculum) is a machine A machine is any physical system with ordered structural and functional p ...

submarine
s, and
amphibious assault ship An amphibious assault ship is a type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an Amphibious warfare, amphibious assault. The design evolved from aircraft carriers converted for use as helicopter ...
s. There are also support and auxiliary ships, including the oiler,
minesweeper underway in British coastal waters during World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast ma ...
,
patrol boat A patrol boat (also referred to as a patrol craft, patrol ship or patrol vessel) is a relatively small naval ship, naval vessel generally designed for Coastal defense and fortification, coastal defence, border protection, immigration law-enforc ...

patrol boat
, hydrographic and oceanographic
survey ship Clintons ''Northern Storm'' in the harbour of Ystad 7 July 2021. A survey vessel is any type of ship or boat that is used for mapping. It is a type of research vessel A research vessel (RV or R/V) is a ship or boat designed, modified, or e ...
and tender. During the
age of sail Age or AGE may refer to: Time and its effects * Age, the amount of time something has been alive Alive may refer to: *Life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling a ...

age of sail
, the ship categories were divided into the
ship of the line A ship of the line was a type of naval 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 of a state. As well as being armed, warships are des ...
, frigate, and
sloop-of-war In the 18th century and most of the 19th, a sloop-of-war in the Royal Navy was a warship A warship or combatant ship is a that is built and primarily intended for . Usually they belong to the of a state. As well as being armed, warships ...
. Naval ship names are typically prefixed by an abbreviation indicating the national navy in which they serve. For a list of the prefixes used with ship names ( HMS,
USS
USS
, , etc.) see
ship prefix A ship prefix is a combination of letters, usually, abbreviations, used in front of the name of a civilian or naval ship A ship is a large watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles A vehi ...
. Today ships are significantly faster than in years past, thanks to much improved propulsion systems. Also, the efficiency of the engines has improved, in terms of fuel, and of how many sailors it takes to operate them. In World War II, ships needed to refuel very often. However, today ships can go on very long journeys without refueling. Also, in World War II, the engine room needed about a dozen sailors to work the many engines, however, today, only about 4–5 are needed (depending on the class of the ship). Today, naval strike groups on longer missions are always followed by a range of support and replenishment ships supplying them with anything from fuel and munitions, to medical treatment and postal services. This allows strike groups and combat ships to remain at sea for several months at a time.


Boats

The term "boat" refers to small craft limited in their use by size and usually not capable of making lengthy independent voyages at sea. The old navy adage to differentiate between ships and boats is that boats are capable of being carried by ships. (Submarines by this rule are ships rather than boats, but are customarily referred to as boats reflecting their previous smaller size.) Navies use many types of boat, ranging from dinghies to landing craft. They are powered by either diesel engines, out-board gasoline engines, or waterjets. Most boats are built of aluminum, fiberglass, or steel.
Rigid-hulled inflatable boat A rigid inflatable boat (RIB), also rigid-hull inflatable boat or rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB), is a lightweight but high-performance and high-capacity unsinkable boat constructed with a rigid hull (ship), hull bottom joined to side-formi ...
s are also used.
Patrol boat A patrol boat (also referred to as a patrol craft, patrol ship or patrol vessel) is a relatively small naval ship, naval vessel generally designed for Coastal defense and fortification, coastal defence, border protection, immigration law-enforc ...

Patrol boat
s are used for patrols of coastal areas, lakes and large rivers.
Landing craft Landing craft are small and medium seagoing watercraft, such as boats and barges, used to convey a landing force (infantry and vehicles) from the sea to the shore during an Amphibious warfare, amphibious assault. The term excludes landing ships, wh ...

Landing craft
are designed to carry troops, vehicles, or cargo from ship to shore under combat conditions, to unload, to withdraw from the beach, and to return to the ship. They are rugged, with powerful engines, and usually armed. There are many types in today's navies including
hovercraft A hovercraft, also known as an air-cushion vehicle or ACV, is an amphibious craft A craft or trade is a pastime or an occupation that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. In a historical sense, particularly the ...

hovercraft
. They will typically have a power-operated bow ramp, a cargo well and after structures that house engine rooms, pilot houses, and stowage compartments. These boats are sometimes carried by larger ships. Special operations craft are high-speed craft used for insertion and extraction of special forces personnel and some may be transportable (and deployed) by air. Boats used in non-combat roles include lifeboats, mail boats, line handling boats, buoy boats, aircraft rescue boats, torpedo retrievers, explosive ordnance disposal craft, utility boats, dive boats, targets, and work boats. Boats are also used for survey work, tending divers, and minesweeping operations. Boats for carrying cargo and personnel are sometimes known as launches, gigs, barges or shore party boats.


Units

Naval forces are typically arranged into units based on the number of ships included, a single ship being the smallest operational unit. Ships may be combined into squadrons or
flotilla Image:Four frigates capturing Spanish treasure ships (5 October 1804) by Francis Sartorius, National Maritime Museum, UK.jpg, 300px, José de Bustamante y Guerra's flotilla is intercepted by four British frigates A flotilla (from Spanish language ...

flotilla
s, which may be formed into fleets. The largest unit size may be the whole Navy or
Admiralty Admiralty usually refers to: * Admiralty (United Kingdom), military department in command of the Royal Navy from 1707 to 1964 *The rank of admiral Admiral is one of the highest ranks in some navy, navies, and in many navies is the highest rank ...
. A
task force A task force (TF) is a unit or formation established to work on a single defined task or activity. Originally introduced by the United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") (unoffici ...
can be assembled using ships from different fleets for an operational task.


Personnel

Despite their acceptance in many areas of naval service,
female sailors Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism, or a part of an organism, that produces non-mobile ovum, ova (egg cells). Barring rare medical conditions, most female mammals, including female humans, have two X chromosomes. Female characterist ...
were not permitted to serve on board U.S. submarines until the U.S. Navy lifted the ban in April 2010. The major reasons historically cited by the U.S. Navy were the extended duty tours and close conditions which afford almost no privacy. The United Kingdom's Royal Navy has had similar restrictions. Australia, Canada, Norway, and Spain previously opened submarine service to women sailors.


Ranks

A navy will typically have two sets of ranks, one for enlisted personnel and one for
officers An officer is a person who has a position of authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It ...
. Typical ranks for commissioned officers include the following, in ascending order (
Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existenc ...

Commonwealth
ranks are listed first on each line; USA ranks are listed second in those instances where they differ from Commonwealth ranks): *
Midshipman A midshipman is an officer of the lowest rank Rank is the relative position, value, worth, complexity, power, importance, authority, level, etc. of a person or object within a ranking A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such ...
/
Ensign An ensign is the national flag A national flag is a flag that represents and symbolizes a given nation. It is Fly (flag), flown by the government of that nation, but usually can also be flown by its citizens. A national flag is typically design ...
/ Corvette Lieutenant *
Sub Lieutenant Sub-lieutenant is a junior military officer rank. In many navies, a sub-lieutenant is a naval commissioned officer, commissioned or subordinate officer, ranking below a lieutenant. In the Royal Navy (RN) the rank of sub-lieutenant is equivalent ...
/
Lieutenant Junior Grade Lieutenant (junior grade), commonly abbreviated as LTJG or, historically, Lt. (j.g.) (as well as variants of both abbreviations), is a junior commissioned officer Military rank, rank of the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, ...
/ Frigate Lieutenant *
Lieutenant A lieutenant ( or abbreviated Lt., Lt, LT, Lieut and similar) is a commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, i ...

Lieutenant
(Commonwealth & USA)/
Ship-of-the-Line Lieutenant Ship-of-the-line lieutenant is a common naval rank, equivalent to the modern naval rank of lieutenant A lieutenant ( or abbreviated Lt., Lt, LT, Lieut and similar) is a junior commissioned officer in the armed forces, fire services, police ...
/
Captain Lieutenant Captain lieutenant or captain-lieutenant is a military rank, used in a number of navies worldwide and formerly in the British Army. It is generally equivalent to the Commonwealth A commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political commun ...
*
Lieutenant Commander Lieutenant commander (also hyphenated lieutenant-commander and abbreviated Lt Cdr, LtCdr. or LCDR) is a commissioned officer An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, als ...
(Commonwealth & USA)/
Corvette Captain Corvette captain is a rank in many navies which theoretically corresponds to command of a corvette A corvette is a small warship. It is traditionally the smallest class of vessel considered to be a proper (or "rated") warship. The warship cla ...
*
Commander Commander is a common naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfa ...

Commander
(Commonwealth & USA)/
Frigate Captain #REDIRECT Frigate captain Frigate captain is a naval rank in the naval forces of several countries. Corvette lies one level below Frigate. It is, usually, equivalent to the Commonwealth/ US Navy rank of commander. Countries using this rank incl ...
*
Captain Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police department, election precinct, etc. The captain is a military rank in ar ...
(Commonwealth & USA)/
Ship-of-the-Line Captain Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies 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, riv ...
*
Commodore Commodore may refer to: Ranks * Commodore (rank) Commodore is a senior naval rank used in many navies which is equivalent to brigadier and air commodore that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. It is either regarded as ...
/
Flotilla Admiral Flotilla admiral is the lowest flag rank, a rank above captain Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, aeroplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police depart ...
(in USA only: Rear Admiral (lower half)) *
Rear Admiral Rear admiral is a senior naval A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a Nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for wa ...
(in USA only: Rear Admiral (upper half)) *
Vice Admiral Vice admiral is a senior naval flag officer rank, equivalent to lieutenant general and air marshal. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral. In many navies,Vice admiral is a three-star rank in the navies of N ...

Vice Admiral
(Commonwealth & USA) *
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 ...

Admiral
(Commonwealth & USA) *
Admiral of the Fleet An admiral of the fleet or fleet admiral (equivalent rank to admiral of the navy Admiral of the Navy was the highest possible rank in the United States Navy ), (unofficial)."''Non sibi sed patriae''" ( en, "Not for self but for country") ...
(Commonwealth) /
Fleet Admiral An admiral of the fleet or fleet admiral (equivalent rank to admiral of the navy or grand admiral) is a military naval officer of the highest rank. In many nations the rank is reserved for wartime or ceremonial appointments. It is usually a rank ...

Fleet Admiral
(USA) /
Grand Admiral #REDIRECT Grand admiral Grand admiral is a historic naval rank, the highest rank in the several European navies that used it. It is best known for its use in Germany as . A comparable rank in modern navies is that of Admiral of the fleet. Grand ...
"Flag officers" include any rank that includes the word "admiral" (or commodore in services other than the US Navy), and are generally in command of a
battle groupBattle group may refer to: * Battlegroup (army), the basic building block of an army's fighting force * Battleship battle group, a battleship and its escorts * Carrier battle group, a carrier and its escorts * Battlegroup of the European Union, an ar ...
, strike group or similar flotilla of ships, rather than a single ship or aspect of a ship. However, commodores can also be temporary or honorary positions. For example, during World War II, a Navy captain was assigned duty as a convoy commodore, which meant that he was still a captain, but in charge of all the merchant vessels in the convoy. The most senior rank employed by a navy will tend to vary depending on the size of the navy and whether it is wartime or peacetime, for example, few people have ever held the rank of Fleet Admiral in the U.S. Navy, the chief of the
Royal Australian Navy The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) is the navy, naval force of Australia. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate Colonial navies of Australia, colonial navies were integrated into a national force, ca ...
holds the rank of Vice Admiral, and the chief of the
Irish Naval Service The Naval Service ( ga, an tSeirbhís Chabhlaigh) is the maritime component of the Defence Forces of Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is se ...
holds the rank of Commodore.


Naval infantry

Naval infantry, commonly known as marines, are a category of infantry that form part of a state's naval forces and perform roles on land and at sea, including
amphibious operations Amphibious warfare is a type of offensive Offensive may refer to: * Offensive, the former name of the Dutch political party Socialist Alternative (Netherlands), Socialist Alternative * Offensive (military), an attack * Offensive language ** Fi ...
, as well as other, naval roles. They also perform other tasks, including land warfare, separate from naval operations. During the era of the
Roman empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman empire
, naval forces included marine
legionaries A recreation of Roman legionaries wearing the '' lorica segmentata'', 1st–3rd century The Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman p ...
for maritime boarding actions. These were troops primarily trained in land warfare, and did not need to be skilled at handling a ship. Much later during the age of sail, a component of marines served a similar role, being ship-borne soldiers who were used either during boarding actions, as sharp-shooters, or in raids along shorelines. The Spanish '' Infantería de Marina'' was formed in 1537, making it the oldest, current marine force in the world. The
British British may refer to: Peoples, culture, and language * British people, nationals or natives of the United Kingdom, British Overseas Territories, and Crown Dependencies. ** Britishness, the British identity and common culture * British English, ...

British
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 ...
combine being both a ship-based force and also being specially trained in
commando Royal Marines from 40 Commando on patrol in the Sangin">40_Commando.html" ;"title="Royal Marines from 40 Commando">Royal Marines from 40 Commando on patrol in the Sangin area of Afghanistan are pictured A commando (etymologically derive ...

commando
-style operations and tactics, operating in some cases separately from the rest of the Royal Navy. The Royal Marines also have their own
special forces Special forces and special operations forces (SOF) are military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict ...

special forces
unit Unit may refer to: Arts and entertainment * UNIT, a fictional military organization in the science fiction television series ''Doctor Who'' * Unit of action, a discrete piece of action (or beat) in a theatrical presentation Music * Unit (album), ...
. In the majority of countries, the marine force is an integral part of the navy but there are variations such as the French
Troupes de marine The (TDM, ) is a subdivision of the French Army The French Army, officially the Ground Army (french: Armée de Terre , ) to distinguish it from the French Air and Space Force (), is the Army, land-based and largest component of the French A ...

Troupes de marine
which is actually part of the
French Army The French Army, officially the Ground Army (french: Armée de Terre , ) to distinguish it from the French Air and Space Force The French Air and Space Force (AAE) (french: Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace, ) is the air File:Atmosphere gas ...
. The
United States Marine Corps The United States Marine Corps (USMC), also referred to as the United States Marines, is the maritime land force service branch Military branch (also service branch or armed service) is according to common standard the subdivision of the na ...
is a separate armed service within the United States Department of the Navy, with its own leadership structure.


Naval aviation

Naval aviation is the application of military air power by navies, whether from
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 of a state. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and ...
s that embark aircraft, or land bases. In World War I several navies used
floatplane A floatplane is a type of seaplane A seaplane is a powered fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and landing of Ryanair makes a smoky landing at Bristol Airport (2016) lands on a moving trailer as part of an airshow. File:F ...

floatplane
s and
flying boat A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane A seaplane is a powered fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and landing of Ryanair makes a smoky landing at Bristol Airport (2016) lands on a moving trailer as part of an airshow. ...

flying boat
s - mainly for
scouting Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement Movement may refer to: Common uses * Movement (clockwork), the internal mechanism of a timepiece * Motion (physics), commonly referred to as movement Arts, entert ...
. By World War II,
aircraft carrier An aircraft carrier is a that serves as a seagoing , equipped with a full-length and facilities for . Typically, it is the of a fleet, as it allows a naval force to worldwide without depending on . Carriers have evolved since their incepti ...
s could carry bomber aircraft capable of attacking naval and land targets, as well as fighter aircraft for defence. Since World War II helicopters have been embarked on smaller ships in roles such as anti-submarine warfare and transport. Some navies have also operated land-based aircraft in roles such as
maritime patrol {{Unreferenced, date=March 2008 Maritime patrol is the task of monitoring areas of water. Generally conducted by military and law enforcement agency, law enforcement agencies, maritime patrol is usually aimed at identifying human activities. Mari ...
and
training Training is teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any s and or that relate to specific . Training has specific goals of improving one's , capacity, and . It forms the core of s and provides the backbone of content at (also known as ...
. Naval aviation forces primarily perform naval roles at sea. However, they are also used in a variety of other roles.


Further reading

* Non-fiction: ** ''Combat Fleets of the World: Their Ships, Aircraft and Systems'' - Naval Institute Press. Published annually. Comprehensive. ** Braudel, Fernand, ''The Mediterranean in the Ancient World'' ** Corbett, Sir Julian, ''Some Principles of Maritime Strategy'', 1911. ** Hughes, Jr., Wayne P., ''Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat'', 1999, Naval Institute Press, ** Kennedy, Paul. ''The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery''. New York: Scribner, 1976. ** Mahan, Alfred Thayer, ''
The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783
The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783
'', 1918, Little Brown, Boston. ** Marder, Arthur. ''The Anatomy of British Seapower''. New York: Octagon Books, 1940. ** Marder, Arthur. "The Influence of History on Sea Power: The Royal Navy and the Lessons of 1914-1918," Pacific Historical Review. November, 1972. ** Richmond, Herbert. ''National Policy and National Strength and other Essays''. London: Longman, Green and Co., 1928. ** Sprout, Harold and Margaret Sprout. ''Toward a New Order of Sea Power: American Naval Policy ... 1918-1922''. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1940. ** Starr, Chester G., ''The Influence of Sea Power on Ancient History'', 1989, Oxford University Press, ** Tangredi, Sam, "Globalization and Maritime Power", 2002 -
National Defense University The National Defense University (NDU) is an institution of higher education funded by the United States Department of Defense, intended to facilitate high-level education, training, and professional development of national security leaders. As ...

National Defense University
, ** Trafalgar 200 Through the Lens, ** Wombacher, Joerg and Joerg Felfe. (2012
United We Are Strong: An Investigation into Sense of Community among Navy Crews
Armed Forces & Society ''Armed Forces & Society'' is an international, interdisciplinary, quarterly peer review, peer-reviewed academic publication that publishes scholarly articles and book reviews on a wide variety of topics including civil–military relations, milita ...
, Vol. 38, No. 4 ** Woolley, Peter J. "The Role of Strategy in Great Power Decline," ''Naval War College Review''. Vol. XLIX, no. 1 (1996). * Fiction: ** Alan Lewrie series by Dewey Lambdin ** Aubrey–Maturin series by Patrick O'Brian ** Horatio Hornblower series by C. S. Forester ** Richard Bolitho series by Alexander Kent (Pseudonym of Douglas Reeman) ** Tom Clancy, ''The Hunt for Red October'', ''Red Storm Rising'' **


See also

* Blue-water navy * List of naval battles * List of navies * Number of warships in service worldwide * List of submarine classes in service * List of naval ship classes in service * List of auxiliary ship classes in service * Modern naval tactics * Naval fleet * Naval warfare * Navies of landlocked countries * Marines


Notes


References


External links


Naval Technology
- News, projects, images and white papers on the naval industry
NOSI (Naval Open Source Intelligence)
- a library of world naval operational news

* {{Authority control Navies, *