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.
On the afternoon of 31 May, Beatty and Hipper encountered each other, and in a running battle to the south Hipper drew the British into the path of the High Seas Fleet. Beatty turned and fled towards the Grand Fleet and from 18:30 until nightfall at about 20:30 the two huge fleets — totaling 250 ships between them — were heavily engaged. Fourteen British and eleven German ships were sunk with great loss of life. Jellicoe tried to cut the Germans off from their base in the hope of continuing the battle in the morning, but under cover of darkness Scheer crossed the wake of the British fleet and returned to port.
Both sides claimed victory. The British had lost more ships and many more sailors, and the British press criticized the Royal Fleet's actions, but Scheer’s plan of destroying Beatty’s squadrons had failed. The Germans continued to pose a threat that required the British to keep their battleships concentrated in the North Sea, but they never again contested control of the seas. Instead, the German Navy turned its efforts and resources to unrestricted submarine warfare.
The ninth and current HMS Albion is a Landing Platform Dock (LPD) ship of the Royal Navy built in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England, UK. Albion is one of the newest ships of the Navy and provides an amphibious assault capability. She is the nameship of the Albion class landing platform dock, which also includes HMS Bulwark. The ship also carries a permanently-embarked Marines landing Craft unit, 6 Assault Squadron Royal Marines. She was launched on 9 March 2001 and was commissioned on 19 June 2003 by her sponsor The Princess Royal. In early 2004 the ship deployed on a multinational exercise for the first time, taking part in Exercise Joint Winter 04 off Norway, following which she was declared fully operational. Her next deployment was the Aurora exercises on the eastern seaboard of the United States. On 11 November 2004 the ship was directed towards Côte d'Ivoire to support Operation Phillis. Albion underwent a refit in early 2006. The refit included the installation of a new command, control and communications suite.