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.
Admiral Hood was a youthful, vigorous and active officer whose service in Africa won him the Distinguished Service Order and who was posthuously raised to a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in recognition of his courageous and ultimately fatal service in the Battle of Jutland, during which his ship was constantly engaged from its arrival at the action and caused fatal damage to a German battlecruiser. He has been described as "the beau ideal of a naval officer, spirited in manner, lively of mind, enterprising, courageous, handsome, and youthful in appearance … His lineage was pure Royal Navy, at its most gallant".