The British Royal Navy can trace its roots back to the late 9th century, when King Alfred built large warships of about 150 feet that was were powered by up to 60 oars and a large square sail. These frequently engaged Danish invaders on the south coast of Wessex with a great deal of success. This fledgling navy was abolished by Edward the Confessor early in the 11th century. England was promptly invaded by the Normans in 1066, whoops.
There followed something of an decline in British Naval might until the 16th century. At his death in 1509 King Henry VII's fleet numbered only half a dozen ships, however, his son was somewhat more enthusiastic about the Navy. Henry VIII was concious of his brother-in-law, James IV of Scotland's Navy, the Scots needed this Navy to govern and protect their Islands on the west coast and they soon gained skill both in building and sailing large warships. Henry responded by building a large fleet of his own, the "Navy Royal" and by the time he died in 1547 the fleet had swelled to 58 modern warships.
The real catalyst in the creation of England's Navy was the Anglo-Spanish conflict which by 1585 had reached boiling point. Spain had a fleet of 141 ships, 7,500 sailors and over 20,000 troops with which they planned to invade Kent. England responded with a fleet of eighty vessels, belonging to both the Queen and her subjects under the command of Admiral Howard, Francis Drake and Martin Frobisher. Through a combination of good seamanship, command and luck, the Spanish fleet was decimated and England gained its reputation as "Ruler of the Seas".
After the second world war, the signing of the NATO agreement along with the creation of the UN made having a large Navy simply impractical (as well as hopelessly expensive). The Navy was forced to make large cutbacks as it became part of a greater world peacekeeping force, and has sole responsibility for Britain's nuclear deterrent (in the Vanguard Ballistic Missile Submarine). It is still one of the most respected forces in the world and is frequently at the heart of modern warfare.
The Royal Navy is currently made up of the following classes of ships:
These vessels are supported by the 21 ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary
. The provide the Navy
's logistical support
, and includes tanker
s, fleet replenishment ship
s and forward repair capabilities
Fleet Air Arm
The Fleet Air Arm provides the Royal Navy's airborne capability in support of both Naval attack (with the Lynx, Merlin, Sea Harrier and Sea King helicopters) and ground attack (giving air support to 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines). The Fleet Air Arm makes up over 10% of all Navy personnel, more than 6,000 people work in this branch of the Navy. They have a long and proud history, being founded in 1912, and have been responsible for many vital Naval victories since then, possibly the most famous being the sinking of the Bismark - accomplished after repeated attacks from Navy aircraft.
The Royal Marines are Britain's amphibious assault force. They are specially trained to work in many different environments, from the jungle to the Arctic. They pride themselves on being the cream of Britain's armed forces, having a far more rigorous training procedure than most army regiments outside the SAS and possibly the Paratroop Regiment. This culminates in the Commando Course, a grueling series of endurance tests that is almost unchanged since its inception during the Second World War, only after passing this course is a Marine allowed to wear the trademark Green Beret.
In Ascending Order (Officer Ranks):
Thanks to www.royal-navy.mod.uk for a lot of dates and other facts