Royal Navy

Royal Navy
Logo of the Royal Navy.svg
Royal Navy logo
Founded1546 (1546)[1]
RoleNaval warfare
Part ofHer Majesty's Naval Service
Naval Staff OfficesWhitehall, London, England
Nickname(s)Senior Service
Motto(s)"Si vis pacem, para bellum" (Latin)
"If you wish for peace, prepare for war"
ColoursRed and white   
MarchQuick – "Heart of Oak" About this soundPlay 
Slow – Westering Home (de facto)
Fleet Edit this at Wikidata
Commander-in-ChiefQueen Elizabeth II
Lord High AdmiralVacant
First Sea LordAdmiral Tony Radakin
Second Sea LordVice Admiral Nicholas Hine
Fleet CommanderVice Admiral Jerry Kyd
White Ensign[nb 3]
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Naval jack[nb 4]
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
Royal Navy commissioning pennant (with outline).svg
Queen's Colour
Queen's Colour for the Royal Navy.svg
Aircraft flown
AttackWildcat HMA2
FighterF-35 Lightning II
PatrolMerlin HM2
Wildcat HMA2
ReconnaissanceAeroVironment RQ-20 Puma[5]
Commando Wildcat AH1
TrainerHawk T1/1A
Avenger T1
Juno HT1[6]
Prefect T1
Tutor T1
TransportCommando Merlin HC3i/4/4A

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by English and Scottish 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 the Second World War. The Royal Navy played a key part in establishing the British Empire. 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,[7] although at the onset of World War II it was still 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 it remains one of the world's foremost blue-water navies.[8][9][10] However, 21st-century reductions in naval spending have led to a personnel shortage and a reduction in the number of warships.[11][12]

The Royal Navy maintains a fleet of technologically sophisticated ships, submarines, and aircraft, including two aircraft carriers, two amphibious transport docks, four ballistic missile submarines (which maintain the UK's nuclear deterrent), seven nuclear fleet submarines, six guided missile destroyers, 13 frigates, 13 mine-countermeasure vessels and 26 patrol vessels. As of January 2021, there are 79 operational commissioned ships (including submarines as well as one historic ship, HMS Victory) in the Royal Navy, plus 13 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. As at March 2019, the total displacement of the Royal Navy was approximately 407,000 tonnes (641,200 tonnes including the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the Royal Marines).[13]

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 from three bases in the United Kingdom where commissioned ships and submarines are based: Portsmouth, Clyde and Devonport, the last being the largest operational naval base in Western Europe, as well as two naval air stations, RNAS Yeovilton and RNAS Culdrose where maritime aircraft are based.

  1. ^ Tittler, Robert; Jones, Norman L. (15 April 2008). A Companion to Tudor Britain. John Wiley & Sons. p. 193. ISBN 9781405137409.
  2. ^ a b "Quarterly service personnel statistics 1 January 2021" (PDF). GOV.UK. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  3. ^ "HMS Trent departs on her first deployment". Royal Navy. Retrieved 3 August 2020.
  4. ^ Military Aircraft: Written question – 225369 (House of Commons Hansard) Archived 26 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine,, March 2015
  5. ^ "Navy's drone experts 700X NAS ready to deploy on warships".
  6. ^ "705 Naval Air Squadron". Royal Navy.
  7. ^ Rose, Power at Sea, p. 36
  8. ^ Hyde-Price, European Security, pp. 105–106.
  9. ^ "The Royal Navy: Britain's Trident for a Global Agenda". Henry Jackson Society. 4 November 2006. Archived from the original on 11 September 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2006. Britannia, with her shield and trident, is the very symbol, not only of the Royal Navy, but also of British global power. In the last instance, the Royal Navy is the United Kingdom's greatest strategic asset and instrument. As the only other 'blue-water' navy other than those of France and the United States, its ballistic missile submarines carry the nation's nuclear deterrent and its aircraft carriers and escorting naval squadrons supply London with a deep oceanic power projection capability, which enables Britain to maintain a 'forward presence' globally, and the ability to influence events tactically throughout the world.
  10. ^ Bennett, James C (2007). The Anglosphere Challenge: Why the English-speaking Nations Will Lead the Way in the Twenty-first Century. United States: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 286. ISBN 978-0742533332. ...the United States and the United Kingdom have the world's two best world-spanning blue-water navies... with the French being the only other candidate... and China being the most likely competitor in the long term
  11. ^ Axe, David (10 August 2016). The Decline of the Royal Navy Archived 27 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Originally on Reuters. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  12. ^ Glaze, Ben (4 September 2017). Armed Forces recruitment crisis sees military "running to stand to still", warns report ordered by Downing Street Archived 7 September 2017 at the Wayback Machine. Mirror. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Royal Navy now has enough crew for both carriers and their escorts". UK Defence Journal. 15 March 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2021.

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