The Royal Navy (RN) is the principal naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Tracing its origins to the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service. From the end of the 17th century until well into the 20th century it was the most powerful navy in the world, playing a key part in establishing the British Empire as the dominant world power. Due to this historical prominence, it is common – also among non-Britons – to refer to it as "The Royal Navy" without qualification.



The Ark Royal, British Navy aircradt carrier


Following victory in the First World War the Royal Navy was significantly reduced in size, although at the onset of the Second World War it was still the largest in the world. By the end of the Second World War the United States Navy had emerged as the world's largest. During the course of the Cold War, the Royal Navy transformed into a primarily anti-submarine force, hunting for Soviet submarines, mostly active in the GIUK gap. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union its focus has returned to global expeditionary operations.

The Royal Navy operates a "blue-water" fleet of technologically sophisticated ships including an aircraft carrier (though without fixed-wing aircraft), a helicopter carrier, two landing platform docks, four ballistic missile submarines (which maintain the UK's nuclear deterrent), six nuclear fleet submarines, six guided missile destroyers, 13 frigates, 15 mine-countermeasure vessels and 24 patrol vessels. As of July 2012, there were 78 commissioned ships in the Royal Navy, plus 19 commissioned ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA). The RFA primarily serves to replenish Royal Navy warships at sea, and also augments the Royal Navy's amphibious warfare capabilities through its three Bay-class landing ship dock vessels.

The Royal Navy is part of the Naval Service, which also comprises the Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary, Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Marines Reserve. The professional head of the Naval Service is the First Sea Lord, 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 currently operates three bases in the United Kingdom where commissioned ships are based; Portsmouth, Clyde and Devonport, Plymouth, the latter being the largest operational naval base in Western Europe.




After almost a thousand years the modern British Navy continues to defend the waters of the British Isles into the 21st Century ............... 


Medical Branch | Uniforms | The Future | Ship's Badges and Flags

The Royal Navy Today | Capabilities |  Strategic Plan  History





The Royal Navy's submarine force can strike against ships and submarines as well as providing support for land operations.  Unseen and unheard submarines can pinpoint targets up to 1,000 miles away.  They are the UK's strategic nuclear deterrent.


Ballistic submarines | Fleet submarinesHow submarines work 

Future submarines | LR5 submarine rescue system | Submarine history  Submarine FAQ's  | Fishing Vessel Code






Patrol boats to aircraft carriers - an extensive guide to surface ships of the Royal Navy with individual explanation of the role they play and links to the homepages of individual ships.


Aircraft Carriers  | Type 23 Frigates  | Type 22 Frigates  

Type 42 Destoyers | Assault Ships  | Patrol Vessels

Hydrographic Vessels  | Mine Countermeasures  | Weapon Systems  

Future Ships  | The Fleet Today






The Royal Navy has fewer ships today, yet its firepower is far greater than at any time in the past. The Royal Navy continues to maintain the most important tradition of striving for the best equipment and dedicated personnel.

Since King Alfred's battle against the Danes in 897 through to the Falklands War of 1982 - from the impressive Sovereign of the Seas in the Seventeenth Century to the revolutionary battleship HMS Dreadnought in the Twentieth, the links pages below offer some of the famous Naval battles, people and ships from over a thousands years of history.




Historical Periods | Naval Leaders |  Napoleon Bonaparte 1769-1821   Admiral Lord Nelson  1758-1805  | Ships  | Battles  | Timeline




Ministry of Defence (MOD)
The official web site includes the MOD daily news web site "Defence Today."

British Army
Official website of the British Army.

Royal Air Force
Official website of the  Royal Air Force.

Royal Fleet Auxiliary
The Royal Fleet Auxiliary supplies the Royal Navy with all its food, fuel, ammunitions and spares.

International Defence Training
Royal Navy training designed and delivered to meet the needs of any commercial or government organisation.

Flagship Training
Have a partnering arrangement with the Naval Recruiting & Training Agency to market training to overseas navies, related naval agencies and industry.

MOD On-line Image Database
This site holds a selection of images from Service and MOD Photographers.
MOD On-line Image Database

Freedom of Information
Mod Publication Scheme and material
released under Freedom of Information
Act 2000.



United States Navy
Official Website of the  United States Navy.

Royal Australian Navy
Official Website of the Royal Australian Navy.

Royal Canadian Navy
Official Website of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Royal New Zealand Navy
Official Website of the Royal New Zealand Navy.

Dutch Navy
Official Website of the Dutch Navy.

French Navy
Official Website of the French Navy. French Navy



National Maritime Museum
The largest Maritime Museum in the world. Currently holds details of Nelson's Tour 2002.

Imperial War Museum
The Imperial War Museum is unique in its coverage of conflicts, especially those involving Britain and the Commonwealth.

Royal Naval Museum
Museum of Britain’s Senior Service in Portsmouth.

Royal Marines Museum
The Royal Marines Museum is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of all aspects of Royal Marines history.

The Fleet Air Arm Museum
One of the largest aviation museums in the World.

Royal Navy Submarine Museum
Walk on board a real submarine. Discover true tales of heroism and relive a life under the sea.

Chatham Historic Dockyard
Covering some 23,000 square feet, the Museum of the Royal Dockyard is one of the largest single museum galleries in Kent.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Live and breathe our nation's heritage through three of the most important warships ever built. The Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior.



The Royal Naval Association
The Royal Naval Association (RNA) is the principle organisation for those who have served in our
Naval Forces.

The Royal Marines Band
Blue Band Mag online - includes articles, details of future concerts and displays, pictures of the bands in action.

Public Record Office
The PRO is the national repository for the archives of all the government departments.

UK Online
UK Online is the entry point to UK government information and services
on the Web.

Royal Naval Reserve
A site to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Royal Naval Reserve.

Fly Navy Heritage
Provides information on all aspects of Fleet Air Arm heritage and allows donations to be made.

The Armed Forces Art Society
Tri-service organisation for artists serving, retired and their spouses. It encourages art in the Services by organising a major annual exhibition at The Mall Galleries in London.

Friends of the Royal Navy
A selection of non-official privately developed websites which look at various aspects of the past, present and the future Royal Navy.
Royal Navy Net Ring

Sea Vision
A campaign brought together to raise awareness of the UK maritime sector and careers.

The Royal Marines Web Ring
A collection of non-official privately developed websites designed to provide information on this Elite Corps.
Royal Marines Web Ring

Commonwealth War Graves Commission
A vital resource for anyone seeking details about a wartime casualty from the First World War onwards.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Submarine Association
Information about UK submarines past and present and the men who sail in them.

The Marine Society Provides education, libraries and financial support for the professional development of seafarers. marine-society

British Forces Post Office
Information on all the BFPO numbers and details of how to contact service personnel whilst in theatre.

HMS Endurance
Tracking Project
Following route of HMS Endurance from Portsmouth to Antarctica

Navy News
The Online News of the Royal Navy





Service Records and Medals

Click here  to acquire information on Service Records for serving or past members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, and medals:

Obtaining RN and RM Service Records & Medals

Contact Ships at Sea

Find out how to contact Royal Navy ships at sea and RN/RM units serving abroad:

Contact Ships at Sea

Further Sources of Information

Click here for further information about the Royal Navy from a list of useful names and addresses or organisations belonging to, or associated with the Service:

Further Sources of Information on the Royal Navy


Points of contact for personnel leaving the forces and for employers looking to employ ex-service personnel can be found at the following link:

Armed Forces Personnel Resettlement



Careers can be found within the careers web pages. In addition, there is clear advice on the nationality and residency guidelines necessary to join the UK Armed Forces within the eligibility section.


Other career enquiries should be directed towards the nearest Officer Career Liaison Centre or Armed Forces Careers Offices.


If you are enquiring of the Royal Navy from overseas it is better to use the online contact form.  The RN will usually send details of an advisor in the UK. If however there is a specific question related to non UK qualifications or residency rules, etc. an e-mail enquiry can be made to the following address:




Operation Neptune, the adventures of John Storm





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