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Navy of Great Britain: description, list and interesting facts

Long before the emperor Peter "cut a window" into the Baltic Sea and laid the foundations of the Russian navy, "the mistress of the seas" England has been rules for centuries on waves around the globe. The prerequisites for this were as special, the island location of Great Britain, and the geopolitical need to fight the powerful European powers - Spain, France, Portugal.


The first serious ships of Britain can be considered triremes and directories of the Roman Empire, which to the question of shipbuilding was approached as seriously as to everything else - its sailing-rowing vessels were the top of the technology of that time. After the departure of the Romans and the formation of many different kingdoms on the territory of the British Isles, the ships of the British were sensibly lost in all components - tonnage, manufacturability and quantity.

The impetus to the emergence of more sophisticated ships were Scandinavian raids - ferocious Vikings on fast and maneuverable drkkarah made devastating raids on coastal churches and cities. The construction of a large patrol fleet allowed the British to significantly reduce the losses from intrusions.

The next stage in the formation of the British navy is the invasion of William the Conqueror and the formation of a unitary state, England. From now on, it is worth talking about the appearance of the English fleet.

English Royal Navy

The official history of the Royal Navy of England is to begin with Henry VII, who increased the British fleet from 5 to 30 ships. Until the end of the 16th century, the English at sea did not find any special laurels, but after the victory over the Spanish "Invincible Armada" and a series of other victories, the situation with the naval separation from the European flagships (Spain and France) began to level off.

Corsairs and pirates - two sides of the same coin

In the history of the British Navy, a special and ambiguous line is the activity of the famous English corsairs, the most famous of which were Francis Drake and Henry Morgan. Despite his frankly robber "core activity", the first of them was knighted and defeated by the Spaniards, and the second one added another diamond - the Caribbean archipelago - to the crown of England.

The Navy of Great Britain

The official history of the British Navy (there are different interpretations related to the presence of the fleets of England and Scotland until 1707, when they merged) begins in the middle of the 17th century. Since that time, the British have gained less and less defeats in sea battles, gradually gaining the glory of the most powerful naval power. The peak of English supremacy on the waves falls on the Napoleonic wars. They also became a moment of glory for the sailing ships that had reached their technological ceiling by this time.

The end of the Napoleonic Wars was lifted by the Royal Navy of Great Britain to the podium of the strongest fleet in the world. In the 19th century, the British were the first to change the tree and sails to iron and steam. Despite the fact that the British Navy practically did not participate in major battles, service in the navy was considered very prestigious, and attention to maintaining the power and combat readiness of the navy was top priority. The seriousness of the attitude of the British to their advantage in the world's oceans is evidenced by the fact that the unspoken doctrine ordered the following balance of forces to be maintained: the British Navy should have been stronger than any two navies combined.

World War I: A large fleet against the fleet of the open sea

The British Navy in the First World War did not show themselves as vividly as one might have guessed before it began: The large fleet, whose main task was the defeat of the German fleet of the open sea, failed to cope with its task - its losses were much greater than those of the Germans. Despite this, Britain's shipbuilding capacities were so great that it retained its advantage by forcing Germany to abandon the tactics of large battles and move to raider tactics using mobile submarine connections.

By the same time, the creation of two, without exaggeration, epoch-making military ships, which became the ancestors of whole directions in shipbuilding, belongs to this time. The first was the HMS Dreadnought, a new type of battleship with powerful weapons and a steam-turbine unit, which allows it to develop a fantastic 21-kilometer speed for those times. The second was HMS Ark Royal - aircraft carrier, who served the British Navy until 1944.

Despite all the losses of the First World War, by the end of the Great Britain it had a huge fleet on its balance sheet, which was hanging on a leaky budget with a heavy burden. Therefore, the Washington Agreement of 1922, restricting the floating crew to a certain number in each of the classes of ships, was a real salvation for the islanders.

World War II: working on mistakes

The Royal Navy of Great Britain at the beginning of World War II had twenty-two large-capacity ships (battleships and aircraft carriers), 66 cruising ships, almost two hundred destroyers and six dozen submarines, not counting the ones under construction. These forces exceeded the available in the location of Germany and its allies several times, which allowed the British to hope for a favorable outcome for the sea battles.

The Germans, well aware of the superiority of the British, did not get involved in direct clashes with the powerful Allied squadrons, but engaged in guerrilla warfare. A special role in this was played by submarines, whom the Third Reich riveted almost a thousand!

Karl Doenitz, "underwater Guderian," developed the tactics of the "wolf pack", suggesting an attack on convoys and attacks of the type "bitten - bounced". And for the first time the flying squadrons of German submarines led the British into a state of shock - the debut of military operations in the North Atlantic was marked by a staggering amount of losses in both the commercial and the British navy.

An additional favorable factor for Germany was the fact that the British Navy base in 1941 was significantly lost in number and quality - the defeat of France, the seizure of Belgium and Holland struck a sensitive blow to the plans of the islanders. Well, Germany was able to effectively use small submarines with a small time of autonomous navigation.

The situation was overcome by deciphering the codes of German submariners, creating a new convoy system, building a sufficient number of specialized escort ships, as well as air support. Further successes of Great Britain at sea were associated both with huge shipbuilding capacities (the British built ships faster than the Germans drowned them), and with the success of the Allies on land. The withdrawal of Italy from the war deprived Germany of its Mediterranean military bases, and the battle for the Atlantic was won.

Falklands: conflict of interest

In the postwar period, the ships of the British Navy were seriously noted in the Falkland War with Argentina. Despite the unofficial nature of the conflict, the losses of the islanders amounted to several hundred people, several ships and dozens of fighters. Of course, Britain, which was an order of magnitude greater in naval power, easily achieved control over the Falklands without much difficulty.

The Cold War

The main arms race was not held with old adversaries - Japan or Germany, but with the recent bloc ally - the Soviet Union. The "Cold War" could at any time become hot, and therefore the British Navy was still in high combat readiness. The deployment of naval bases, the development and commissioning of new ships, including submarines with nuclear weapons - all this the British made already in the rank of the second number. The main confrontation unfolded between the two titans - the Soviet Union and the United States.

The British Navy today

To date, it is considered the largest in the Old World and is (on a rotational basis) in the NATO Navy. Aircraft carriers and missile cruisers with the ability to carry nuclear warheads are the main strike force of the British Navy . Its composition to date: 64 ships, of which 12 are submarines, 2 aircraft carriers, 6 torpedo boats, 13 frigate ships, three landing ships, 16 minesweepers, and twenty patrol boats and patrol boats. Another auxiliary ship, "Fort George", is considered a military rather conventional.

The flagship is the aircraft carrier Bulvark, a multifunctional ship that performs not only the tasks of basing decked aircraft, but also landing functions (transporting up to 250 marines and landing equipment). "Bulvark" was built in 2001, and was commissioned in 2005.

The main above-water force is the Norfolk series frigates, named after the English dukes, and the submarine - the Vangard series of submarines equipped with nuclear missiles. The fleet is based in Plymouth, Clyde and Portsmouth, with the Devonport Plymouth base acting in this role since 1588! At that time, the ships were hiding in it, waiting for that same Spanish "Invincible Armada". It is the only one on which ships with nuclear engines are being repaired.

Interesting Facts

Disposal of the ships of the British Navy of the class of submarines (nuclear submarines) is not carried out - there is no such technological capability for the islanders. Therefore, submarines that have served their operational life are simply preserved until better times.

Passage of the Russian missile cruiser near the territorial waters of Great Britain in 2013 plunged into shock not only the townsfolk, but also the navy of the country. The Russian Navy off the coast of Britain! Despite the status of a naval power, the British could not easily find a ship comparable in class and capable of advancing towards the Russian cruiser.

The British have the primacy in creating two types of ships that for many years changed the face of sea battles: the dreadnought - a powerful and fast military ship, superior to its rivals in both maneuverability and power of the volley, as well as the aircraft carrier - the ship, which today is the main By force of the Navy of all large countries.


What has changed in the English fleet since the days of Roman domination to the present day? The British Navy made its way from the fragile vessels of the Saxon yarls to reliable frigates and the most powerful "manovars" of the times of Drake and Morgan. And further, already at the peak of power, was at sea the first in everything. Two world wars shook the sovereignty of Pax Britannika, and behind him and his navy.

To date , the British Navy in tonnage is on the 6th place, behind India, Japan, China, Russia and the US, with the Americans "islanders" losing almost 10 times! Who would have thought that the former colony would look leniently at the former metropolis after a couple of centuries?

Nevertheless, the British military fleet is not only guns, aircraft carriers, missiles and submarines. This is history. The history of great victories and crushing defeats, heroic deeds and human tragedies ... "Be glorious, Britain, the mistress of the seas!"

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