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.

The Royal Navy continues to be known as the ‘Andrew’, but there is no conclusive answer to the derivation of the nickname.

In the 18th century the Royal Navy began using copper sheathing to protect their ships from teredo worm, also known as shipworm.

Beagle was a Royal Navy ship, famed for taking English naturalist Charles Darwin on his first expedition around the world in 1831–36.

Martello Towers are castle shaped forts that were built on the south and east coasts of England in the first part of the 19th century.

Samuel Pepys, the famous 17th century British diarist, helped to establish the Navy and is often described as ‘the father of the modern Royal Navy’.

During the 17th to 19th centuries, the British Royal Navy had a number of unrated vessels under the command of lieutenants and commanders.

John Byng (1704–57) was a Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy. He is best known for the loss of Minorca to the French at the Battle of Minorca, marking the start of the Seven Years War in 1756.

The Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794 was the first naval conflict between the British and the French during the French Revolutionary Wars.

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.

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