The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the oldest of the British armed services (and is therefore the Senior Service). From the early 18th century to the middle of the 20th century, it was the largest and most powerful navy in the world, playing a key part in establishing the British Empire as the dominant power of the 19th and early 20th centuries. In WWII, the Royal Navy operated almost 600 ships. During the Cold War, it was transformed into a primarily anti-submarine force, hunting for Soviet submarines, mostly active in the North Atlantic Ocean. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, its role for the 21st century has returned to focus on global expeditionary (blue water) operations.
The Royal Navy is a constituent component of the Naval Service, which also comprises the Royal Marines, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and associated reserve forces under command. The Naval Service had 38,710 regular personnel as of November 2006.
The Battle of the Nile, known in France as the Battle of Aboukir Bay, was an important naval battle of the French Revolutionary Wars between a British fleet commanded by Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson and a French fleet under Vice-Admiral François-Paul Brueys D'Aigalliers. It took place on the evening and early morning of August 1 and August 2, 1798. French losses have been estimated to have been as high as 1,700 dead (including Brueys) and 3,000 captured. British losses were 218 dead. Although decisive, the victory did not prevent the French from conquering most of Egypt and parts of Syria.
The sixth HMS Dreadnought of the Royal Navy was a revolutionary battleship which entered service in 1906. So advanced was Dreadnought that her name became a generic term for modern battleships, whilst the ships she made obsolete became known as "pre-dreadnoughts". Her introduction helped spark off a major naval arms race as navies around the world rushed to match her, particularly the German navy in the build up to the First World War. Dreadnought was the first battleship of her era to have a uniform main battery, rather than having a few large guns complemented by a heavy secondary battery of somewhat smaller guns. She was also the first major warship to be powered by steam turbines, making her the fastest battleship in the world at the time of her completion.