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Royal Navy
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Royal Navy

The Royal Navy is the navy of the United Kingdom. It operates a number of aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates, fifteen nuclear submarines, and various other ships, as well as aircraft and Britain's amphibious forces, the Royal Marines.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Component and associated units of the Royal Navy
3 Royal Navy Timeline
4 Famous sailors of the Royal Navy
5 Famous ships of the Royal Navy
6 Weapons Systems
7 See Also
8 External link


The Royal Navy has historically played an extremely important role in the defence and warfare of England, and later Great Britain, the United Kingdom, and the British Empire. Because Britain is an island and no point in the UK is more than 74 miles (120 km) from the sea, any enemy power (at least, pre-aircraft) would have to cross the sea to be able to attack the nation and any that achieved naval superiority would put the nation in great peril. Moreover, a strong navy was vital in maintaining the security of supply and communication links with distant locations in the Empire.

England's first navy was established by King Alfred, but soon fell into disrepair. The first reformation and major expansion of the Navy Royal, as it was then known, occurred during the reign of King Henry VIII whose ships the "Great Harry" and the "Mary Rose" engaged the French navy in a battle in the Solent in 1545. By the time of Henry’s death in 1547 his fleet had grown to 58 vessels. The second reformation was under Admiral Robert Blake during Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth.

The Naval Service didn't really exist until the mid 17th century when the Fleet Royal was taken under Parliamentary control following the defeat of Charles I in the English Civil War. The incorporation of the royal navy was in contrast to the land forces, which are descended from variety of different sources including both royal and anti-royal parliamentary forces.

Between 1692 and 1940 the Royal Navy was the strongest navy in the world with almost uncontested power over the world's oceans. In that time, the Royal Navy suffered only one major defeat, the Battle of the Chesapeake against France, and was able to defeat decisively all challengers, as at the Battle of Trafalgar. They did, however, lose numerous small engagements.

Life in the early Royal Navy, like in most armed forces of the time, was harsh and flogging was used to enforce discipline. The Navy also used the controversial practice of impressment where seamen were effectively kidnapped to serve on HM ships. This reached its peak in the 1700s and early 1800s.

During World War II, the Royal Navy played a vital role in keeping the UK supplied with food, arms and raw materials. See Battle of the Atlantic (1940). It was also vital in guarding the sea lanes that enabled Britain to fight in remote parts of the world such as North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Far East. Naval supremacy was vital to the amphibious operations carried out, such as the invasions of Northwest Africa, Sicily, Italy and Normandy. See British military history of World War II.

After World War II, the growing power of the United States and the retreat from empire reduced the role of the Royal Navy. The most important post-war operation conducted solely by the Royal Navy involved defeating Argentina in the Falkland Islands War.

In the latter stages of the Cold War, the Royal Navy was reconfigured with three ASW aircraft carriers and a force of small frigates and destroyers. Its purpose was to search for and destroy Soviet submarines in the North Atlantic.

The Royal Navy also participated in the Gulf War, the Kosovo conflict, the Afghanistan Campaign and the 2003 Iraq War.

Nicknames include "The Mob", "The Andrew" and "The Senior Service", nicknames for British sailors include "Limeys". One point of pride of the Royal Navy is that it is known simply as "the Royal Navy", as most other navies include their national name. Another is the fact that the Royal Navy is considered the 'Senior Service' in the UK; the Army is technically older but because the Army once mutinied it is denied the title.

The formation of Royal Dockyards at London; Devonport in Plymouth; Portsmouth; Chatham; Rosyth...

The Napoleonic campaigns of the navy have been the subject of many novels including Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey, C.S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower, Alexander Kent's Richard Bolitho.

HMS (acronym) = Her (or His) Majesty's Ship

Component and associated units of the Royal Navy

Royal Navy Timeline

Famous sailors of the Royal Navy

In approximate chronological order / seniority.

Famous ships of the Royal Navy

For a full list, see
List of Royal Navy ship names

Weapons Systems

See Also

External link