British Royal Navy
The British Royal Navy is the sea arm of the armed forces of the United Kingdom.
For Britain, being an island nation meant that their navy was always one of the most important branches of their military. Also, because of the global nature of the British Empire, they always needed naval forces in order to maintain their vast colonial assets.
The first time that the Royal Navy was able to prove itself on the world stage was when it fought against the seemingly invincible Spanish Armada. With a mixture of good seamanship and the deployment of fireships against the Spanish, the British were able to win a massive victory against the Armada. This was cemented when foul weather destroyed the survivors of the Armada as they attempted to sail around Ireland and return to port. This soon made the Royal Navy the greatest navy in Europe.
Britain's next rival against which the Royal Navy fought was France. In a series of wars leading up to the reign of Napoleon, the French and British Navies built up their navies in an arms race against each other. This culminated in two decisive battles lead by the famous Admiral Nelson: the first off the coast of the Nile in the Mediterranean, and the second at the Battle of Trafalgar.
The next rival of the Royal Navy was the German Empire. During the period leading up to the Great War, the United Kingdom and the Germans built up a steadily increasing array of battleships. During this period, several naval battles were fought by the United States and Japan, and British designers took careful notes. This resulted in the design and deployment of HMS Dreadnought. Soon the dreadnought race was on as Germany, Italy, and others saw their chance to potentially catch up with the Royal Navy in sea power. This lead to the stalemate that was the Battle of Jutlands.
During the post Great War period, the Royal Navy was reduced under various international treaties, starting with the Washington Arms Treaty. While still making it the largest Naval force in Europe, it brought its numbers into parity with the United States Navy. Even with these restrictions, it was still a force powerful enough to prevent any reasonable invasion of the British Islands. All during the war, the Royal Navy proved formidable in all theaters.
The end of the Second World War saw the decline of the once mighty Royal Navy. Its fleet of battleships was now obsolete thanks to the rise of the aircraft carrier, and due to the steady break up and independence of possessions of the British Empire, the United Kingdom could no longer afford a massive navy. By the 1980's, the Royal Navy only had two small carriers when Argentina attacked and occupied the Falkland Islands. While the forces available to the British were limited, they were still able to transport and support the operation to retake the Falklands.
The Royal Navy has a legacy that is still evident today. Because of the long reach of the British Empire, the Royal Navy was always on the forefront of navigation technology. The British were the first to start using standardized maps and charts onboard their vessels, allowing Royal Navy forces to have much better planning and coordination than their rivals. Many of their great victories were owed to these standards. Included in this was the invention and deployment of very precise clocks on Royal Navy vessels as part of this navigation standard. Times Zone standards, as we know them today, exist largely as a part of those navigation standards. There is a reason that Greenwich Mean Time is the starting point for today's Time Zones.
In all but a few instances, the Royal Navy has always been on the forefront of naval technology. They were the first to deploy many innovative technologies. These include iron-clad warships, naval aviation, steam technology, and the list goes on. From the HMS Mary Rose to the HMS Ark Royal, the Royal Navy always was in the lead in naval technology.
- Breach Loading Cannons
- Iron Clad Warships
- Aircraft Carriers
- Steam Catapults for launching aircraft
- Angled Flight Deck
- Establishing a standard for Longitude for navigation.