Royal Navy

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105 ships including RFA
131 Landing craft
240 aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm

The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the oldest of HM Armed Forces (and is therefore known as the Senior Service). From the beginning of the 18th century until well into the 20th century it was the most powerful navy in the world,[3] playing a key part in establishing the British Empire as the dominant world power from 1815 into the 20th century. In World War II the Royal Navy operated almost 900 ships. During the Cold War it was transformed into a primarily anti-submarine force, hunting for Soviet submarines, mostly active in the GIUK gap. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, its role for the 21st century has returned to focus on global expeditionary operations.

The Royal Navy is a blue water navy and the second-largest navy of the NATO alliance, in terms of the combined displacement (approx. 450,000 long tons (460,000 t) (950,000 long tons (970,000 t) including the Royal Fleet Auxiliary) after the United States Navy.[4] As of December 2010 there were 83 commissioned ships in the Royal Navy, including helicopter carriers, landing platform docks, ballistic missile submarines, nuclear fleet submarines, guided missile destroyers, frigates, mine counter-measures and patrol vessels. 16 vessels of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) also contribute to the Royal Navy's order-of-battle. The Royal Navy's ability to project power globally is considered second only to the U.S. Navy.[5][6] The Royal Navy maintains the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons.

The Royal Navy is a constituent component of the Naval Service, which also comprises the Royal Marines, Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Marines Reserve. As of April 2009 the Royal Navy numbered approximately 39,100 Regular personnel of whom 7,500 were in the Royal Marines; in addition, there were 3,600 Volunteer Reserve personnel, giving a total of 42,700 personnel.[1][7]

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