FAS | Nuke | Guide | UK | Agency |||| Index | Search |

Royal Navy

Portsmouth has been the traditional home of the Royal Navy since 1194, when Richard I granted the City its first Royal Charter. From the late fifteenth century until the mid-twentieth century the role of the Navy became paramount as first England, then the United Kingdom, acted as an island off Europe with global designs away from the European continent. The wealth, prosperity and safety of the nation depended on the Royal Navy's ability to protect first colonies then empire.

Henry VII ordered the first Naval dockyard to be built at Portsmouth. His son, Henry VIII founded a fleet of sail-driven battleships, with heavy guns along their sides below deck. The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century completely changed the fighting ship. The changes to sea warfare became a revolution with the construction of HMS Dreadnought in 1905. Every other battleship in the world was made obsolete. The Royal Navy was at the forefront of submarine developement even though many had initially considered them to be 'a damned un-English invention'.

During World War II, the U. S. Navy replaced the Royal Navy as the world's strongest. The Royal Navy, despite its reduced size, has remained at the forefront of new developments. Nuclear propulsion today provides greatly enhanced speed and endurance for submarines, which are no longer handicapped by the need to surface to recharge electric batteries. Guided missiles have replaced guns as the warship's primary weapon.

At the apex of the Royal Navy's role is the United Kingdom's strategic deterrent, consisting of the latest Vanguard class nuclear-powered submarines carrying Trident ballistic missiles that can be fired from beneath the sea.

Sources and Resources

FAS | Nuke | Guide | UK | Agency |||| Index | Search |


Maintained by Webmaster
Updated Thursday, July 09, 1998 10:46:31 AM