The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom, founded in the 16th century, is the oldest of HM Armed Forces (and is therefore known as the Senior Service). From 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 from 1815 until the second third of the 20th century. In World War II the Royal Navy operated almost 900 ships. During the Cold War it was transformed into a primarily anti-submarine force, hunting for Soviet submarines, mostly active in the GIUK gap. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, its role for the 21st century has returned to focus on global expeditionary operations.

The Royal Navy is a blue-water navy and the second-largest navy of the NATO alliance, in terms of the combined displacement (approx. 450,000 long tons (460,000 t) (950,000 long tons (970,000 t) including the Royal Fleet Auxiliary) after the United States Navy. February 2011 there were 81 commissioned ships in the Royal Navy, including helicopter carriers, landing platform docks, ballistic missile submarines, nuclear fleet submarines, guided missile destroyers, frigates, mine counter-measures and patrol vessels. 16 vessels of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) also contribute to the Royal Navy's order-of-battle. The Royal Navy's ability to project power globally is considered second only to the U.S. Navy. The Royal Navy maintains the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons.

The Royal Navy is a constituent component of the Naval Service, which also comprises the Royal Marines, Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Marines Reserve. As of February 2011 the Royal Navy numbered approximately 38,190 Regulars and 3,600 Navy Volunteers. In addition, there were 19,560 Regular Reserves.

The Royal Navy is also supported by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, a civilian logistical support fleet which is owned and operated by the Ministry of Defence as part of the British Merchant Navy. The RFA primarily serves to replenish Royal Navy warships at sea, but also augments the Royal Navy's amphibious warfare capabilities through its three Bay-class LSDs (Landing Ship Dock).

Royal Navy
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg

Naval Ensign
Active 16th century - present
Country Kingdom of England (to 1707)
Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
United Kingdom (1801–present)
Allegiance Queen Elizabeth II
Type Navy
Size Available manpower;
  • 38,190 Regulars
  • 3,600 Navy Volunteers

Reserve manpower;

  • 19,560 Regular Reserve

103 ships including RFA
131 Landing craft
200 aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm

Part of British Armed Forces
Naval Staff Offices Ministry of Defence Main Building, Whitehall
Motto Latin: Si vis pacem, para bellum
If you wish for peace, prepare for war
Colours Red and White
March "Heart of Oak"
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope
Aircraft flown
Attack Lynx
Patrol Merlin, Lynx, Sea King ASaC.7
Trainer Tutor, Hawk, Jetstream, Firefly
Transport Sea King

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