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.
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.
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.
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.
Royal Naval Dockyards were used to build navy ships during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Navy Board was responsible for running them.
Royal Navy officer Thomas Cochrane (1775–1860) was a notorious naval officer and the real-life ‘Master and Commander’.
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.
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 Royal Navy introduced coloured cloth on to their uniforms in 1863, so that it was possible to distinguish between naval departments.