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This article is about the United Kingdom's navy. For Oman's navy, see Royal Navy of Oman. For other uses, see Royal Navy (disambiguation) and Senior Service (disambiguation).

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's principal naval warfare force. Tracing its origins to the 16th century, it is the oldest service and is known as the Senior Service. From the end of the 17th century until well into the 20th century it was the most powerful navy in the world, playing a key part in establishing the British Empire as the dominant world power. Due to this historical prominence, it is common – even among non-Britons – to refer to it as "The Royal Navy" without qualification.

Following victory in the First World War, the Royal Navy was significantly reduced in size, although at the onset of the Second World War it was still the largest in the world. By the end of the Second World War, the United States Navy had emerged as the world's largest. During the course of the Cold War, the Royal Navy transformed into a primarily anti-submarine force, hunting for Soviet submarines, mostly active in the GIUK gap. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, its focus has returned to expeditionary operations around the world.

The navy maintains a fleet of technologically sophisticated ships including a landing platform helicopter, two amphibious transport docks, four ballistic missile submarines (which maintain the UK's nuclear deterrent), seven nuclear fleet submarines, six guided missile destroyers, 13 frigates, 15 mine-countermeasure vessels and 22 patrol vessels. As of 28 August 2014, there are 77 commissioned ships in the Royal Navy, plus 13 commissioned ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA); there are also four Merchant Navy ships available to the RFA under a private finance initiative. The RFA replenishes Royal Navy warships at sea, and augments the Royal Navy's amphibious warfare capabilities through its three Bay-class landing ship vessels. The total displacement of the Royal Navy is approximately 337,000 tonnes (641,000 tonnes including the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Marines).

The Royal Navy is part of Her Majesty's Naval Service, which includes the Royal Marines. The professional head of the Naval Service is the First Sea Lord, an admiral and member of the Defence Council of the United Kingdom. The Defence Council delegates management of the Naval Service to the Admiralty Board, chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence. The Royal Navy currently operates three bases in the United Kingdom where commissioned ships are based; Portsmouth, Clyde and Devonport, Plymouth, the last being the largest operational naval base in Western Europe.


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