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 World War II, 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 the second-largest navy in NATO in terms of the combined tonnage of its fleet. Its global power projection capabilities are deemed second only to the United States Navy. There are currently 91 commissioned ships in the Royal Navy, including aircraft carriers, submarines, mine counter-measures and patrol vessels. There are also the support vessels of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
The Royal Navy is a constituent component of Her Majesty's 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 Jutland (German: Skagerrakschlacht (Battle of the Skagerrak); Danish: Søslaget ved Jylland / Søslaget om Skagerrak) was the largest naval battle of World War I, and the only full-scale clash of battleships in that war. It was fought on May 31–June 1, 1916, in the North Sea near Jutland, the mainland of Denmark. The combatants were the Kaiserliche Marine’s High Seas Fleet commanded by Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer and the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet commanded by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe. The intention of the German fleet was to lure out, trap and destroy a section of the Grand fleet, part of their larger strategy of breaking the British naval blockade of the North Sea and allowing German mercantile shipping to operate again. The Royal Navy, on the other hand, was seeking to engage and cripple the High Seas Fleet with a single engagement.
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 sixth HMS Ocean of the Royal Navy is a Landing Platform, Helicopter carrier, the only one in its class. It was built during the early part of the 1990s by Kvaerner Govan on the Clyde, taking advantage of commercial build methods and facilities, before sailing to Barrow-in-Furness for fitting out prior to acceptance into service with the Royal Navy. She is based on the Invincible class aircraft carrier design.
Ocean was designed to provide the amphibious assault capabilities last offered by HMS Albion and Bulwark, carrying an Embarked Military Force (EMF) supported by 12 Sea King HC-4 medium-lift helicopters, six Lynx AH-7 light-lift/anti-Tank helicopters, and four Mk5 landing craft, operated by the permanently-embarked 9 Assault Squadron Royal Marines. Her secondary roles included afloat training, limited anti-submarine warfare, and providing a base for anti-terrorist operations.
Admiral of the Fleet Prince Louis of Battenberg, GCB, GCVO, KCMG, PC (24 May 1854 – 11 September 1921), later known as Louis Alexander Mountbatten, 1st Marquess of Milford Haven, was a minor German prince who married a granddaughter of Britain's Queen Victoria and pursued a distinguished career in the United Kingdom's Royal Navy, becoming a protégé of his future king, Edward VII.
The Queen and Prince of Wales occasionally intervened in his career—the Queen thought that there was "a belief that the Admiralty are afraid of promoting Officers who are Princes on account of the radical attacks of low papers and scurrilous ones". However, Louis welcomed battle assignments that provided opportunities for him to acquire the skills of war and to demonstrate to his superiors that he was serious about his naval career. Posts on royal yachts and tours actually impeded his progress, as his promotions were perceived as royal favours rather than deserved. However, he rose through the command ranks on his own merit and eventually served as First Sea Lord, the senior uniformed officer in the Royal Navy, from 1912 to 1914 until he was forced to resign when anti-German feeling was running high at the start of World War I.