The Royal Navy has protected Britain's shores and coastline for hundreds of years and was once the most powerful naval fighting force in the world. Discover more about the establishment of the Royal Navy and how it has evolved. Plus, read about some heroic naval leaders and their infamous endeavours.

Royal Navy officer Thomas Cochrane (1775–1860) was a notorious naval officer and the real-life ‘Master and Commander’.

Royal Naval Dockyards were used to build navy ships during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Navy Board was responsible for running them.

Horatio Hornblower is the fictional naval hero created by C. S. Forester in 1937 who appears in a number of novels set during the Napoleonic Wars.

The British Navy loaned HMS Victorious to the US Navy in the Second World War. She was given a refit and sent to action in the Pacific.

Henry VIII (1491–1547) is one of the most written about kings in English history. He established the Church of England and the Royal Navy.

The Royal Navy introduced coloured cloth on to their uniforms in 1863, so that it was possible to distinguish between naval departments.

Greenwich was once home to thousands of swash-buckling former sailors, some missing a limb or an eye but still wild men of the sea at heart.

The rating system of the British Royal Navy was used to categorise warships between the 17th and 19th centuries. There were six rates of warship.

Henry VIII (1491–1547) is credited for establishing the Royal Navy – establishing Royal Dockyards and building new, innovative warships.

In the 17th and 18th centuries there were six Royal Navy Dockyards in England, at Deptford, Woolwich, Chatham, Sheerness, Portsmouth and Plymouth.

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