Royal Navy
Royal Navy
Previously part of Department of Admiralty
Preceded by Navy Royal
Active 1546-present
Branch HM Naval Service
Type Navy
Role Naval Warfare
Country United Kingdom
Headquarters London, England
Ceremonial head Lord High Admiral
Professional head First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
Parent command Navy Command
Total personnel 43,280
Ship's 88
Aircraft 178
Part of Navy Department

The Royal Navy is the navy of the United Kingdom. It is the oldest part of the British fighting forces and is known as the "Senior Service". It is one of the five branches of HM Naval Service from the 18th century until World War Two, 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 Royal Navy currently has 43,280 personnel (people) including part-time reserve sailors, airmen and marines, The surface fleet consists of 75 commissioned ships, 11 fleet auxiliary ships and 178 aircraft as of November 2018. The titular head of the Royal Navy is the Lord High Admiral HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. It's operational commander is the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff: Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB who directs the navy through Navy Command HQ in Portsmouth, England.

From 1546 until 1707 the Royal Navy and subsequently HM Naval Service was controlled by the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office. From 1707 until 1964 it was controlled by the Department of Admiralty a government department of state that was merged along with the Air Ministry and War Office into the Ministry of Defence where it became the Navy Department.

1) History

No navy or fleet existed in any shape or form in England until the reign of King Alfred (871-901). His first seaborne engagement was in 882 against four Danish ships in the Stour estuary, and in 895-7 Alfred built longships to his own design and defeated the Danes off Essex and in the Thames estuary. It is for this reason that King Alfred is often claimed to be the founder of the British navy.
During the reign of Edward the Confessor (1004-1066), the maritime institution of the Cinque Ports was established. This was composed of five ports, Dover, Hastings, Romney, Hythe and Sandwich, later Rye and Winchelsea were added. Its purpose was for the prompt mobilisation of merchant vessels into a navy to fight against pirates and enemy attacks.

In 1189 Richard I introduces the use of the first command flags of the navy to identify the flag ship of the commander-in-chief of the fleet. In 1190 he introduces the Laws of Oleron into England. These were a code of maritime law originally enacted by his mother Eleanor of Aquitaine. The laws dealt with the rights and responsibilities of ships’ captains in relation todiscipline, mutiny, pay, cargoes, sickness on board, pilotage and the like. In 1206 according to naval historian Nicholas A. M. Rodger in his book the Admiralty (1979) states "Insofar as mediaeval Kings of England possessed a permanent administrator of their navies, he was the 'Clerk of the Kings Ships'. The post first appears in a distinct form under King John with William of Wrotham was Keeper of the Kings Ports and Galleys, the Clerk of the Kings Ships was not a one man department of state but a permanent agent of the crown". This officer holder is assumed to have been left vacant, this is because no official court records have been found after this date listing any other similar office holders until the appearance of the clerk of the kings ships at the beginning of the fourteenth century.

In 1223 the first office of Admiral was first created in England with the appointment of Sir Richard de Lucy as Admiral of England a Knight Henry III. In 1294 the first admiralty's were established responsible for specific areas of England they were the Northern Admiralty, Southern Admiralty and Western Admiralty each administered by an admiral responsible for managing the king's ships in each area, the raising additional vessels from the available ship of merchantmen in the kingdom, additionally they were also responsible for convening admiralty courts. Between 1222 and 1384 only 5 men were given command of the English Navy though each of them were styled differently Sir Richard de Lucy was followed in 1263 by Sir Thomas de Moleton who was appointed by Edward I as Captain and Guardian of the English Seas. Edward Iconferred the command of the English Navy to Sir William de Leybourne in 1286 who was styled as Admiral of the English Seas.

In 1320 the re-establishment of a naval administrator is created with the appointment of the Clerk of the King's Ships the first holder of one of the Offices of the Clerks of the Kings Marine that would later develop into the Council of the Marine. In 1321 Edward IIappointed Sir Richard de Leyburn Admiral of England, Wales and Ireland. In 1360 John de Beauchamp, 1st Baron Beauchamp de Warwick was appointed High Admiral of England by Edward III and Admiral of the South, North and West, the navy's first office-of-the-admiral-of-the-fleet. In 1340 the Battle of Sluys was the first naval battle fought in ships, although the fleet was made up of mainly commandeered merchant vessels. This is deemed to be the first time a naval dispatch had been sent, when the King wrote to his son, the Prince of Wales. The English fleet being commanded by Edward III. Edward III became known as the ‘king of the seas’. In 1360 a High Court of the Admiralty is established, In 1364 the commands of the Admiral's of the North and West are unified into larger Northern and Western Admiralty and remains so on an adhoc basis until 1414. In 1386 Richard II appointed Richard FitzAlan,10th Earl of Arundel the first High Admiral of England, Ireland and Aquitaine this title by name was conferred by different monarchs to eighteen other men until 1513 when Henry VIII ceased his claim on the French throne leading to the creation of the Office Lord Admiral of England.

Between 1412 and 1414 the last two remaining regional admiralty's are unified under the Office of the High Admiral of England to create a single Admiralty Office that would later evolve into the Department of Admiralty. In 1415, the Henry V’s English invasion force was carried across the channel by 1500 ships and boats, to fight in Agincourt. Henry V built the Jesus, the first ship of 1000 tons, followed by the Grace Dieu of 1400 tons. The Tudor period was the great age of discovery and the beginning of world expansion. In 1495 Henry VII built the first dry dock at Portsmouth. Henry VIII inherited seven warships from his father, which he increased to twenty-four in the early part of his reign. Henry VIII had ships built which had improved sea-worthiness and armaments, and in 1514 the Henry Grace a Dieu the largest warship in the world was launched. It was the first ship with heavy guns, and this led to an end of archers firing on ships and hand to hand fighting, and so developed a new technique of sea warfare. In the same year Trinity House was inaugurated to develop navigational aids such as lighthouses, buoys and beacons, the latter being used to signal the invasion of the Spanish Armada in 1588. In 1540 Henry built the first naval dock in Britain at Portsmouth.

In the 16th century the navy introduces a system of naval squadrons designed to divide the fleet into specific formations for command purpose's which leads to the creation of Vice and Rear Admiral's. Beginning in 1545 the clerks of the king's marine are gradually brought together into a single Council of the Marine created in 1546 It was responsible for the civil administration of the naval service from 1545 to 1576. when it was superseded by the Navy Office that was controlled by the Navy Board and the admiralty office is renamed the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office. The same year the English Navy for the first time is now refereed to as the Navy Royal. Henry VIII set up the administrative machinery for the control of the fleet. For his achievements Henry VIII was known as the father of the navy. This dual organisation of Admiralty and Navy Office's would remain unchanged for 300 years. In 1628 the office of the Lord Admiral of England is placed in the hands of a commission known as the Board of Admiralty presided over by a president called the First Lord of the Admiralty. Responsibility for the control and direction of the navy interchanged between the Board of Admiralty, the office of the Lord High Admiral until 1679 when the board resumed full control of admiralty.

The Navy Royal became the Royal Navy after the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660. In 1661 Sir William Penn and Samuel Pepys established the Naval Discipline Act which included the articles of war and founded the Royal Navy by statue. In 1664 the Royal Marines as the Admiral's Regiment were set up. Charles II founded the Royal Society of London to encourage scientific knowledge of astronomy, biology, geographical exploration, navigation and seamanship. In 1702 the Board of Admiralty was temporarily suspended replace a Lord High Admirals Council until 1703. In 1707 the Admiralty and Marine Affairs Office becomes a civil department of state called the Department of Admiralty headed by the First Lord of the Admiralty who becomes a government minister and member of the British Cabinet.

In 1714 the Board of Longitude was created and offered a prize for solution to discovering longitude at sea. The problem was solved by John Harrison’s chronometers in the latter part of the century. In 1751 warships began to be rated by being divided into six divisions depending on the number of their guns e.g. a first rate having over 100 guns and sixth rate having under 32 guns. In 1767 the Nautical Almanac is created to produce astronomical data to aid navigational mapping of vessels it becomes a distinct office within the Admiralty in 1818.

In 1782 signalling with twenty-eight flags using a numbered code was introduced by Admirals Howe, Kempenfelt and Knowles. This was further developed in 1796 by the introduction of semaphore by Sir Home Popham and Rev. Lord George Murray. Fifteen semaphore stations were installed from London to Deal, and its success led to a further ten stations being set up between London and Portsmouth. 1795 saw the compulsory introduction of lemon juice to prevent scurvy on board. ships. In the same year the Admiralty’s Hydrographic Department was established and the first Admiralty chart was issued by Alexander Dalrymple in 1801.

From 1819, the Department of Admiralty was given permission to sell its charts to the Merchant Marine and since then the world has been navigated almost entirely on British Admiralty charts. The nineteenth century saw the beginning of Arctic exploration. In 1822, the first steam vessels, HMSs Comet and Monkey, were brought into use for towing ships of the line out of harbour when the wind was unfavourable. The Admiralty became the single organisation responsible for every aspect of the navy in 1832 when the Navy Office was merged into it. In 1853, continuous service in the navy was introduced under which seamen could make service in the navy a career and earn a pension at the end of it. This meant the end of impressment as a means of recruitment. HMS Warrior, the first ironclad warship, was built in 1860.

At the turn of the twentieth century the submarine was developed. By World War I 74 had been built. In 1906, the first all big-gun battleship HMS Dreadnought was built, becoming the most powerful ship in the world at the time and making all other ships obsolete. In 1912, the Royal Naval Air Service was formed, and in 1918, HMS Argus was the first ship built to enable aircraft to take off and land with an unobstructed deck over the whole length of the ship. In 1917 the first professional military staff is created known as the Admiralty Naval Staff In 1923, HMS Hermes was the first purpose built aircraft carrier and the Fleet Air Arm came into existence a ear later. The latter part of the century has seen the development of nuclear submarines and missiles. In 1964 the Department of Admiralty is merged along with the Air Ministry and War Office within single Ministry of Defence where it became the Navy Department

The Royal Navy today 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".

2) Current Organisation and Structure of the Royal Navy

The ceremonial head of the Royal Navy is the Lord High Admiral of the United Kingdom who's office dates from (1385). Operationally each of the armed services has its own board the royal navy has the Admiralty Board which is responsible for the administration of the HM Naval Service. It meets formally only once a year, and the day-to-day running of the Royal Navy is conducted by the Navy Board, which does not include any ministers and their offices are in at Ministry of Defence HQ, London. Based at MOD HQ is the The professional head of the is the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff 1SL/CNS) who is full Admiral of four star rank. He is a member of the Ministry of Defence, Defence Council and its sub-committee the Defence Board. The Royal Navy is directed through Navy Command which is shore based command who's facilities are presided over by the Second Sea Lord and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (2SL/DCNS) who is a Vice-Admiral three star rankhe is responsible for the administrative, logistical, personnel, recruitment and training and support functions of the navy, he reports to the First Sea Lord. Operational command of the fleet is the job of Fleet Commander]]] (FLEETCOMM), who is also a Vice-Admiral who reports to the First Sea Lord. The purpose of fleet commander is to provide ships, submarines and commando forces for military and diplomatic jobs as needed by the Government. The fleet commander is also based at Navy Command HQ which is in Portsmouth; whilst the fleet's operational headquarters are at Northwood HQ, Middlesex. This is the Permanent Joint Headquarters and a NATO Regional Command. In addition Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy) who is a Rear-Admiral of two star rank is responsible for the direction and development of strategic policy and strategy for the Royal Navy and the Finance Director (Navy) is a civilian officer of the MOD responsible for Management and decision support relating to the Royal Navy's delegated budget.

2.1) Office of the Lord High Admiral

Main article: Lord High Admiral

2.2) Navy Department

Main Article: Navy Department (MOD)

2.2.1) Office of the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff

The Royal Navy's professional head responsible to Secretary of State for the fighting effectiveness, efficiency and morale of the Naval Service; a member of the Defence Council supporting Secretary of State in the management of the Armed Forces.
Main Article: First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff

2.3) Navy Command

Navy Command currently consists
Main Article: Navy Command

2.3,1) Office of the Second Sea Lord and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff

Second Sea Lord and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff is the Principal Personnel Officer (PPO) for the Naval Service with direct responsibility to the First Sea Lord as the personnel champion for all Naval Service.
Main Article: Second Sea Lord and Deputy Chief of Naval Staff

2.3.2) Office of the Fleet Commander

The Fleet Commander has full command of all deployable Fleet units including the Royal Marines. He is responsible for providing ships, submarines, aircraft and Royal Marine units ready in all respects for any operations that the UK Government requires.

Main Article: Fleet Commander

2.3.4) Office of the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy)

Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy) is responsible for the direction and development of strategic policy and strategy for the Royal Navy.
Main article: Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Policy)

2.3.5) Office of the Finance Director (Navy)

The Finance Director works directly to First Sea Lord and supports the Fleet Commander, Second Sea Lord and colleagues in the delivery of their responsibilities. As Navy Command's Senior Finance Officer, Civilian Workforce Advisor, and Senior Policy Advisor.

Main article: Finance Director (Navy)

3) Current Arms of the Royal Navy

The Royal Navy is made up of five arms.

  1. Surface Fleet
  2. Fleet Air Arm
  3. Submarine Service
  4. Royal Marines
  5. Royal Fleet Auxiliary

4) Current Branches of the Royal Navy

In terms of careers and service within the Royal Navy from ratings to officers, t is currently consists of seven of the nine specialism branches that encompass HM Naval Service:

  1. Aviation Branch
  2. Chaplaincy Branch
  3. Engineering Branch
  4. Intelligence Branch
  5. Medical Branch
  6. Naval Historical Branch
  7. Logistics Branch
  8. Royal Naval Reserve
  9. Warfare Branch

5) Former Arms of the Royal Navy

  1. Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
  2. Women's Royal Naval Service

6) Former Branches of the Royal Navy

  1. Accountant Branch
  2. Air Branch
  3. Civil Branch
  4. Dental Branch
  5. Military Branch (command and leadership)
  6. Naval Instructor Branch
  7. Navigating Branch
  8. Ordnance Branch

7) Source


8) Attribution

  1. Royal Navy Ensign Public Domain,
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