Royal Navy

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The White Ensign

The Royal Navy is the navy of the United Kingdom. It is the oldest part of the British fighting forces. Because it is the oldest, it is called the "Senior Service". From the 18th century until World War II, it was the largest and strongest navy in the world. The Royal Navy was very important in making Britain the superpower of that time. The Naval Service is made up of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Fleet Air Arm and reserve forces. The Naval Service had 57,000 personnel (people) as of November 2011 including part-time reserve sailors, airmen and marines.

The Royal Navy is one of the largest navies in the world in terms of gross tonnage (weight and size of all their ships). The Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary have 98 ships including aircraft carriers, submarines, minesweepers and patrol vessels as well as the ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. All ships in the Royal Navy are called "Her Majesty's ships" (Or HMS for short), because by constitution the Queen owns them and has command over them. Ships in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary are called "Royal Fleet Auxiliaries" (Or RFA for short) and are also technically owned by the Queen. In times of a male monarch the "Her" is replaced with "His".

History[change | change source]

The strength of the fleets of the united Kingdom of England was an important element in the kingdom's power in the 10th century.[1] At one point Aethelred II had an especially large fleet built by a national levy of one ship for every 310 hides of land, but it is uncertain whether this was a standard or exceptional model for raising fleets. During the period of Danish rule in the 11th century a standing fleet was maintained by taxation, and this continued for a time under the restored Anglo-Saxon regime of Edward the Confessor, who frequently commanded fleets in person.

1500–1707[change | change source]

A permanent Royal Navy, with its own staff, dockyards and a group of purpose-built warships, was created in the 16th century in the reign of Henry VIII.[1]221-37 Under Elizabeth I, England was at war with Spain. Privately-owned ships combined with the Royal Navy raided Spanish commerce and colonies.[1]238-53, 281-6, 292-6 In 1588, Philip II of Spain sent the Spanish Armada against England to stop English support for the Dutch rebels, to stop English pirate activity, and to depose Elizabeth. The Spaniards sailed from Lisbon, planning to escort an invasion force from the Spanish Netherlands. The plan failed due to poor planning, English tactics, blocking action by the Dutch, and bad weather.[1]253-71

Organization[change | change source]

In law, the head of the Royal Navy is the monarch or her consort, holding the ceremonial title of Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom. The Lord High Admiral was Elizabeth II from 1964 to 2011. Her husband Prince Phillip was in the Royal Navy during World War II. He was Lord High Admiral from 2011 to 2021. The professional head of the naval service is the First Sea Lord. He is a member of the Defence Council and the Admiralty Board. The Navy Board is below Admiralty Board and is responsible for running the Navy. Their offices are in the Ministry of Defence, London.

Full command of the Royal Navy is the job of Commander-in-Chief Fleet (CINCFLEET). The purpose of CINCFLEET is to provide ships, submarines and commando forces for military and diplomatic jobs as needed by the Government. CINCFLEET command headquarters are in Portsmouth; operational headquarters are at Northwood, Middlesex. This is the Permanent Joint Headquarters and a NATO Regional Command.

A White Ensign on the back of HMS Chiddingfold, a minesweeper. The White Ensign is the flag of the Royal Navy.

Current Role[change | change source]

During the Cold War, the Royal Navy mainly focused on hunting for Soviet submarines. These submarines were most active in the North Atlantic Ocean, the ocean near Britain.

The main jobs of the Royal Navy are:

Bases [7][change | change source]

  • HMNB Portsmouth
  • HMNB Devonport, Plymouth
  • HMNB Clyde, Faslane

Personnel[change | change source]

As of 1st November 2011, the Royal Navy numbered 36,640 personnel[8] and 2,300 Royal Naval Reserve (Volunteer Reserve).[9] Both of these figures include the Royal Marines and Royal Marines Reserve. In addition there were 19,600 Regular Reserves.[10]

Women have been in the Royal Navy since 1917. From 1939 to 1993 they were part of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) and were called "Wrens". Since 1993 they have been a part of the regular Navy. The Royal Navy is an equal rights employer, with women having the same opportunities as their male counterparts.[11] In 2012 for the first time a female officer, Commander Sarah West commanded a major warship, HMS Portland.

Vessels[change | change source]

This is not a complete list of all Royal Navy vessels. It is a simplified version of only the major units for simplicity.

Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier[change | change source]

HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) is the first of the navy’s latest aircraft carriers. Along with her Sister ship, HMS Prince of Wales (R09) they are the biggest ships ever built for the Royal Navy. The ships can hold and launch F35 Lightning II B aircraft, which were built specially for the ships. Both ships are also fitted with Phalanx close-in weapons, which are controlled by RADAR.

Albion Class Landing Platform Dock[change | change source]

HMS Albion (L14) is a Landing Platform Dock in the Royal Navy. She and her sister ship, HMS Bulwark (L15) provide an amphibious landing capability for Royal Marines. Each ship can carry up to 405 troops, 30 all-terrain armoured vehicles or six Challenger 2 tanks.

Type 45 Destroyer (Daring Class)[change | change source]

HMS Daring (D32) is one of a group of Destroyers. She is designed for anti-air warfare. She can also conduct patrol missions and carry a boarding party from the Royal Marines. She and her sisters will are the main warships for the next decade at least.

The other Type 45 Destroyers are HMS Dauntless, HMS Diamond, HMS Defender, HMS Dragon and HMS Duncan[12]

Type 23 Frigate[change | change source]

HMS Sutherland (F81) is one of the Duke class Frigates. She is designed for anti-submarine warfare. She can also conduct a variety of other missions. She is the first ship to have this name in over 200 years. She was the ship chosen to escort HMS Queen Elizabeth out of her shipyard in 2017. [13]

The other Type 23 Frigates are HMS Argyll, HMS Lancaster, HMS Iron Duke, HMS Montrose, HMS Westminster, HMS Northumberland, HMS Richmond, HMS Somerset, HMS Kent, HMS Portland and HMS St Albans. Four others used to serve in the Royal Navy, but 3 were sold to Chile and 1 has been removed from active service. [14]

Protector Class Ice-Patrol Vessel[change | change source]

HMS Protector (A173) is the Royal Navy’s Ice Patrol Ship. She primarily patrols the British Antarctic Territory but also serves in the nearby Falklands and South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.

Vanguard Class Submarine[change | change source]

HMS Vanguard (S28) is one of four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBN). She can fire the Trident nuclear missile around the globe. They also hold Spearfish torpedos which can attack a target up to 14 miles away. [15] At any time at least one boat is at sea with nuclear weapons to defend Britain. [16] Their operations are highly secretive. They are based at HMNB Clyde in Scotland. [17]

The other Vanguard class submarines are HMS Vigilant, HMS Vengeance and HMS Victorious.

Astute Class Submarine [18][change | change source]

HMS Astute (S119) is the first of a new type of fleet submarine (SSN). Her type is nuclear powered. They can fire the Tomahawk IV missile at ground targets and torpedoes at surface ships. She is one of the most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy.

The other 3 boats are HMS Ambush, HMS Artful and HMS Audacious. Three more boats are planned or under construction.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Rodger N.A.M. 1997. The safeguard of the Sea - a naval history of Britain - Volume one, 660-1649.
  2. "Joint Helicopter Command". www.army.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  3. "Atlantic Patrol Tasking North | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  4. "Atlantic Patrol Tasking South | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  5. "Operation Kipion | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  6. "Overseas Patrol Squadron | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  7. "Bases & Stations | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-12-06. Retrieved 2012-01-01.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. "Royal-Naval-Reserves". Royal Navy. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
  10. "UKDS 2010 - Chapter 2 - Personnel". Dasa.mod.uk. Archived from the original on 2012-11-20. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
  11. "Royal Navy Life | Equality And Diversity in the Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2020-05-06.
  12. "Daring Class | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  13. "HMS Sutherland (F81) | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  14. "Royal Navy to lose two Type 23s setting stage for future fleet". Naval Technology. 2021-03-23. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  15. "Vanguard Class | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  16. "Continuous At Sea Deterrent | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  17. "Clyde | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.
  18. "Astute Class | Royal Navy". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2022-03-28.