Introduction

Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is 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 and later with the French Navy for maritime supremacy. From the mid 18th century, it was the world's most powerful navy until surpassed by the United States Navy during the Second World War. The Royal Navy played a key part in establishing the British Empire as the unmatched world power during the 19th and first part of the 20th centuries. Due 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, the Royal Navy was significantly reduced in size, although at the onset of World War II it was still the world's largest. By the end of the war, however, the United States Navy had emerged as the world's largest. During the Cold War, the Royal Navy transformed into a primarily anti-submarine force, hunting for Soviet submarines and mostly active in the GIUK gap. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, its focus has returned to expeditionary operations around the world and remains one of the world's foremost blue-water navies. However, twenty-first century reductions in naval spending have led to a personnel shortage and a reduction in the number of warships.

The Royal Navy maintains a fleet of technologically sophisticated ships and submarines including an aircraft carrier, two amphibious transport docks, four ballistic missile submarines (which maintain the UK's nuclear deterrent), six nuclear fleet submarines, six guided missile destroyers, 13 frigates, 13 mine-countermeasure vessels and 22 patrol vessels. As of April 2018, there are 74 commissioned ships (including submarines) in the Royal Navy, plus 10 ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA); there are also five Merchant Navy ships available to the RFA under a private finance initiative. The RFA replenishes Royal Navy warships at sea, and augments the Royal Navy's amphibious warfare capabilities through its three Bay-class landing ship vessels. It also works as a force multiplier for the Royal Navy, often doing patrols that frigates used to do. The total displacement of the Royal Navy is approximately 407,000 tonnes (603,000 tonnes including the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Marines).

The Royal Navy is part of Her Majesty's Naval Service, which also includes the Royal Marines. The professional head of the Naval Service is the First Sea Lord who is an admiral and member of the Defence Council of the United Kingdom. The Defence Council delegates management of the Naval Service to the Admiralty Board, chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence. The Royal Navy operates three bases in the United Kingdom where commissioned ships are based; Portsmouth, Clyde and Devonport, the last being the largest operational naval base in Western Europe.

Selected battle

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The naval Battle of Quiberon Bay took place on 20 November 1759 during the Seven Years' War in Quiberon Bay, off the coast of France near St. Nazaire. The British Admiral Sir Edward Hawke with 23 ships of the line caught up with a French fleet with 21 ships of the line under Marshal de Conflans, and after hard fighting, sank six and captured one, the rest of the fleet being forced to return to port. As a result, French naval activity was severely limited, and Britain retained naval supremacy for the remainder of the war. At the time, the battle was one of the most important and well-known British naval victories; it would remain so until the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Selected ship

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The ninth and current HMS Albion is a Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ship of the Royal Navy built in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England, UK. Albion is one of the newest ships of the Navy and provides an amphibious assault capability. She is the nameship of the Albion-class landing platform dock, which also includes HMS Bulwark. The ship also carries a permanently-embarked Marines landing Craft unit, 6 Assault Squadron Royal Marines. She was launched on 9 March 2001 and was commissioned on 19 June 2003 by her sponsor The Princess Royal. In early 2004 the ship deployed on a multinational exercise for the first time, taking part in Exercise Joint Winter 04 off Norway, following which she was declared fully operational. Her next deployment was the Aurora exercises on the eastern seaboard of the United States. On 11 November 2004 the ship was directed towards Côte d'Ivoire to support Operation Phillis. Albion underwent a refit in early 2006. The refit included the installation of a new command, control and communications suite.

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Selected image

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His Majesty's Ship Victory, Capt. E. Harvey, in the Memorable Battle of Trafalgar between two French Ships of the Line

Painting by John Constable.

Selected biography

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Admiral of the Fleet Prince Louis of Battenberg, GCB, GCVO, KCMG, PC (24 May 1854 – 11 September 1921), later known as Louis Alexander Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, was a minor German prince who married a granddaughter of Britain's Queen Victoria and pursued a distinguished career in the United Kingdom's Royal Navy, becoming a protégé of his future king, Edward VII.

The Queen and Prince of Wales occasionally intervened in his career—the Queen thought that there was "a belief that the Admiralty are afraid of promoting Officers who are Princes on account of the radical attacks of low papers and scurrilous ones". However, Louis welcomed battle assignments that provided opportunities for him to acquire the skills of war and to demonstrate to his superiors that he was serious about his naval career. Posts on royal yachts and tours actually impeded his progress, as his promotions were perceived as royal favours rather than deserved. However, he rose through the command ranks on his own merit and eventually served as First Sea Lord, the senior uniformed officer in the Royal Navy, from 1912 to 1914 until he was forced to resign when anti-German feeling was running high at the start of World War I.

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Major topics

Royal Navy
Major engagementsNotable personnelNotable shipsEquipment & TechnologySee also

War of the Grand Alliance

War of the Spanish Succession

War of the Austrian Succession

Seven Years' War

American War of Independence

French Revolutionary War

War of the Second Coalition

Napoleonic Wars

Barbary Wars

Greek War of Independence

World War I

World War II

1945–present

Not all battles included

Seven Years' War

American War of Independence

French Revolutionary War

Napoleonic Wars

World War I

World War II

pre-1800

1800–1900

1900–1945

1945–

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