This article is about the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom

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Royal Navy

This article is about the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom.

The Symbol:

The naval ensign of the Royal Navy, also known as the White Ensign.

The White Ensign or St George's Ensign is an ensign flown on British Royal Navy ships and shore establishments. It consists of a red St George's Cross on a white field with the Union Flag in the upper left corner.

The White Ensign is also flown by the Royal Yacht Squadron and ships escorting the Queen.

In addition to the United Kingdom, several former British states or nations also have variants of the White Ensign with their own national flags in the canton, with the St George's Cross sometimes being replaced by a naval badge.

For those who don’t know what an ensign is:

An ensign is a national flag, an emblem or a badge used at sea, to mark your ship or vessel. The word is derived from the Latin word insignum.

Titles and naming Of the Navy

The British Royal Navy is commonly referred to as the "Royal Navy" both in the United Kingdom and other countries. All other navies of other countries have the name of their country in their navy’s names e.g. Royal Australian Navy or Royal Netherlands Navy (Koninklijke marine) and Royal Swedish Navy (Kungliga Flottan). This name is a remain of their former power and position as the greatest nations Navy. The only other country that is also called "Royal Navy" is French Navy, despite France being a republic since 1870, But they call it "La Royale" in French off course.

Namings Of ships

Ships are very often named after British Dukes and these names frequently re-used. Later on I will talk about ships like the HMS warrior, the abbreviation HMS means Her Majesty's Ship . As well as a name, each ship and submarine of the Royal Navy and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary is given a pennant number which in part denotes its role.

In short:

The Royal Navy (RN) is the 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. It remains a prominent and powerful navy with the ability to project power globally.

power projection (or force projection) is a term used in military and political science to refer to the capacity to intimidate other nations and implement policy by means of force, or the threat of this force in an area distant from its own territory.

(This ability is a crucial element of a state's power in international relations. Any state able to direct its military forces outside the limited bounds of its territory might be said to have some level of power projection capability, but the term itself is used most frequently in reference to militaries with a worldwide reach. Even states with sizable hard power assets (such as a large standing army) may only be able to exert limited regional influence so long as they lack the means of effectively projecting their power on a global scale. Generally, only a select few states are able to overcome the logistical difficulties inherent in the deployment and direction of a modern, mechanized military force.)

Let’s start off with a very important piece of history in which the Royal Navy plays a crucial role.

The Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805) was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).

The battle was the most decisive British naval victory of the war. Twenty-seven British ships of the line led by Admiral Lord Nelson aboard HMS Victory defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships of the line under French Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve off the south-west coast of Spain, just west of Cape Trafalgar. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships, without a single British vessel being lost.

The British victory spectacularly confirmed the naval supremacy that Britain had established during the previous century and was achieved in part through Nelson's extraordinary tactics.

Normally the objective in naval battle is engaging an enemy fleet in a single line of battle parallel to the enemy to make signalling in battle or disengagement easier. This way the fiels fields of fire and target areas are maximised . Nelson instead divided his smaller force into two columns directed in a right angle against the larger enemy fleet, with decisive results.

Nelson was deadly wounded during the battle, becoming one of Britain's greatest war heroes. The commander of the joint French and Spanish forces, Admiral Villeneuve, was captured along with his ship Bucentaure. Spanish Admiral Federico Gravina escaped with the remains of the fleet and succumbed months later to wounds sustained during the battle.

HMS Victory, Nelson's flagship at Trafalgar, is still a commissioned Royal Navy ship, although she is now permanently kept in dry-dock. In 1922 she was moved to a dry dock at Portsmouth, England, and preserved as a museum ship. She continues to be flagship of the Second Sea Lord and is the oldest naval ship still in commission.

The Royal Navy Has been the greatest and most powerful fleet for many years and nowadays it operates a fleet of technologically very sophisticated ships. The where very often the first to use new cutting edge technologies or develop the latest technical breakthrough, this is one of the things that made the Royal Navy that powerful.

This urge to rule the waves also has historical roots.

Due to British leadership in the Industrial Revolution, the country enjoyed unparalleled shipbuilding capacity and financial resources, which ensured that no rival could take advantage of these revolutionary changes to negate the British advantage in ship numbers. In 1889, Parliament passed the Naval Defence Act which formally adopted the 'two-power standard', which said that the Royal Navy should maintain a number of battleships at least equal to the combined strength of the next two largest navies. Nowadays that would be crazy.

2 Examples of their tradition of high-end technology development are the HMS Warrior and the

HMS Warrior was quite eeasy the first iron-hulled, armour-plated warship, built in 1860.

HMS Dreadnought was a battleship of the British Royal Navy that revolutionised naval power. Her entry into service in 1906 represented such a marked advance in naval technology that her name came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships, the "dreadnoughts”.

Admiral Sir John "Jackie" Fisher is credited as the father of the Dreadnought. Shortly after he assumed office he ordered design studies for a battleship armed solely with 12-inch (305 mm) guns and a speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). He convened a "Committee on Designs" to evaluate the alternative designs and to assist in the detailed design process. One benefit of the Committee was that it would shield him, from political charges that they had not consulted leading experts before designing such a radically different battleship.

Dreadnought was the first battleship of her era to have a uniform main gun battery, rather than having a few large guns complemented by a heavy secondary battery of somewhat smaller guns. She was also the first capital ship to be powered by steam turbines, making her the fastest battleship in the world at the time of her completion. Her launch helped spark a major naval arms race as navies around the world, particularly the German Imperial Navy rushed to match her in the build-up to World War I.

Dreadnought did not participate in any of World War I's naval battles as she was refitting during the Battle of Jutland in 1916, the only time that British dreadnought battleships fired on their German counterparts during the war. However, she became the only battleship ever to sink a submarine when she rammed one when it unexpectedly rose up to the surface of the sea, and thus became visible, after firing a torpedo at another dreadnought in 1915. ( After Jutland, she was relegated to coast defence duties in the English Channel, only rejoining the Grand Fleet in 1918. She was reduced to reserve in 1919 and sold for scrap on 9 May 1921 for £44,000.)

Of course the Royal Navy did his part in both the World Wars, being a specific and powerful component of the British Army


During the two World Wars, the Royal Navy played a vital role in keeping the United Kingdom supplied with food, arms and raw materials and in defeating the German campaigns of unrestricted submarine warfare in the first and second battles of the Atlantic.

During the First World War most of the Royal Navy's strength was deployed at home in the Grand Fleet, confronting the German High Seas Fleet across the North Sea. In this battle the Germans were repeatedly outmaneuvered and the British advantage in numbers was proven invincible, leading the German High Seas Fleet to abandon its challenge to British dominance.

In the inter-war period the Royal Navy was stripped of much of its power. The Washington and London Naval Treaties imposed scrappings of capital ships and limitations on new construction.

Does anyone know why they agreed on these treaties?

( It is common that after the war treaties limited the constructions of weapons and armament in sort of war-hangover.) By 1938 though treaty limits were effectively ignored. The re-armament of the Royal Navy was well on his way by this point; the Royal Navy had begun construction of still treaty affected and undergunned new battleships and its very first full-sized purpose-built aircraft carriers. In addition to new construction, several existing old battleships, battlecruisers and heavy cruisers were reconstructed, and anti-aircraft weaponry reinforced, while new technologies were developed.

At the start of World War II in 1939, the Royal Navy was still the largest in the world,

You want to hear all the numbers?

consisting of 15 battleships and battlecruisers with 5 under construction, 7 aircraft carriers, 66 cruisers with 23 more under construction, 184 destroyers with 52 under construction, 45 escort and patrol vessels with 9 under construction and 1 on order, and 60 submarines with 9 under construction.[54]

( During the early phases of World War II the Royal Navy provided critical cover during British evacuations from Dunkirk. At the Battle of Taranto, Admiral Cunningham commanded a fleet that launched the first all-aircraft naval attack in history.)

The Royal Navy suffered huge losses in the early stages of the war. There were, however, early successes against enemy surface ships, at the Battle of the River Plate in 1939, and off Norway; by 1941, with the sinking of the Bismarck, Germany effectively lost her surface ship capabilities. As well as providing cover in operations, it was also vital in guarding the sea lanes that enabled British forces to fight in remote parts of the world such as North Africa, the Mediterranean and the Far East. Naval supremacy in the Atlantic was vital to the operations carried out, such as the invasions of Northwest Africa, Sicily, Italy, and Normandy. Royal Navy ships also provided an important role in escorting convoys across the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, and to other countries on the allied side, protecting them from air, surface and submarine attack.

Following victory in the First World War the Royal Navy was significantly reduced in size] although at the beginning of the Second World War it was still the largest in the world. By the end of the Second World War the U.S. Navy had emerged as the world's largest.

During the course of the Cold War and the emergence of the Soviet submarine threat, 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 GIUK gap is an area in the northern Atlantic Ocean that forms a naval warfare choke point. Its name is an acronym for Greenland, Iceland, and the United Kingdom, the gap being the open ocean between these three landmasses. The term is typically used in relation to military topics.

After World War II the decline of the British Empire and the economic hardships in Britain at the time forced the reduction in the size and capability of the Royal Navy. The increasingly powerful U.S. Navy took on the former role of the Royal Navy as global naval power and police force of the sea.

Current role

The current role of the Royal Navy (RN) is to protect British interests at home and abroad, executing the foreign and defense policies of Her Majesty's Government through the exercise of military effect, diplomatic activities and other activities in support of these objectives. The Royal Navy is also a key element of the UK contribution to NATO.

Their objectives are delivered via a number of core capabilities:

  • Maintenance of the UK Nuclear Deterrent through a policy of Continuous at Sea Deterrence.

  • Provision of two medium scale maritime task groups with organic air assets.

  • Delivery of the UK Commando force.

  • Contribution of assets to the Joint Helicopter Command.

  • Maintenance of standing patrol commitments.

  • Provision of Mine Counter Measures capability to UK and allied commitments.

  • Provision of Hydrographic and meteorological services deployable worldwide.

  • Protection of the UK and EU's Exclusive Economic Zone.

  • Current deployments

  • See Standing Royal Navy deployments

The Royal Navy is currently deployed in many areas of the world, including a number of standing Royal Navy deployments. These include several home tasks as well as overseas deployments. The Navy is deployed in the Mediterranean as part of standing NATO deployments including mine countermeasures and NATO Maritime Group.

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