Navy
Overview
 
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

 principally designated for naval
Naval warfare
Naval warfare is combat in and on seas, oceans, or any other major bodies of water such as large lakes and wide rivers.-History:Mankind has fought battles on the sea for more than 3,000 years. Land warfare would seem, initially, to be irrelevant and entirely removed from warfare on the open ocean,...

 and amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

; namely, lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

- or ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

-borne combat
Combat
Combat, or fighting, is a purposeful violent conflict meant to establish dominance over the opposition, or to terminate the opposition forever, or drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed....

 operations and related functions. It includes anything conducted by surface ships, amphibious
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

 ships, submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s, and seaborne aviation
Naval aviation
Naval aviation is the application of manned military air power by navies, including ships that embark fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters. In contrast, maritime aviation is the operation of aircraft in a maritime role under the command of non-naval forces such as the former RAF Coastal Command or a...

, as well as ancillary support, communications, training, and other fields; recent developments have included space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

-related operations. The strategic offensive role of a navy is projection of force into areas beyond a country's shores (for example, to protect sea-lanes, ferry troops, or attack other navies, ports, or shore installations).
Encyclopedia
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

 principally designated for naval
Naval warfare
Naval warfare is combat in and on seas, oceans, or any other major bodies of water such as large lakes and wide rivers.-History:Mankind has fought battles on the sea for more than 3,000 years. Land warfare would seem, initially, to be irrelevant and entirely removed from warfare on the open ocean,...

 and amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

; namely, lake
Lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...

- or ocean
Ocean
An ocean is a major body of saline water, and a principal component of the hydrosphere. Approximately 71% of the Earth's surface is covered by ocean, a continuous body of water that is customarily divided into several principal oceans and smaller seas.More than half of this area is over 3,000...

-borne combat
Combat
Combat, or fighting, is a purposeful violent conflict meant to establish dominance over the opposition, or to terminate the opposition forever, or drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed....

 operations and related functions. It includes anything conducted by surface ships, amphibious
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

 ships, submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s, and seaborne aviation
Naval aviation
Naval aviation is the application of manned military air power by navies, including ships that embark fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters. In contrast, maritime aviation is the operation of aircraft in a maritime role under the command of non-naval forces such as the former RAF Coastal Command or a...

, as well as ancillary support, communications, training, and other fields; recent developments have included space
Outer space
Outer space is the void that exists between celestial bodies, including the Earth. It is not completely empty, but consists of a hard vacuum containing a low density of particles: predominantly a plasma of hydrogen and helium, as well as electromagnetic radiation, magnetic fields, and neutrinos....

-related operations. The strategic offensive role of a navy is projection of force into areas beyond a country's shores (for example, to protect sea-lanes, ferry troops, or attack other navies, ports, or shore installations). The strategic defensive purpose of a navy is to frustrate seaborne projection-of-force by enemies. The strategic task of the navy also may incorporate nuclear deterrence by use of nuclear missiles.

Etymology

First attested in English c.1600, the word "navy" came via Old French
Old French
Old French was the Romance dialect continuum spoken in territories that span roughly the northern half of modern France and parts of modern Belgium and Switzerland from the 9th century to the 14th century...

 navie, "fleet of ships", from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 navigium, "a vessel, a ship, bark, boat", from navis, "ship" and from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 "नाव" (Nau), "ship". The word "naval" came from Latin navalis, "pertaining to ship"; cf. Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 "ναῦς" (naus), "ship", "ναύτης" (nautes), "seaman, sailor" (the earliest attested reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greek na-u-do-mo, "shipbuilders", written in Linear B
Linear B
Linear B is a syllabic script that was used for writing Mycenaean Greek, an early form of Greek. It pre-dated the Greek alphabet by several centuries and seems to have died out with the fall of Mycenaean civilization...

 syllabic script).

History

Naval warfare developed when humans first fought from water-borne vessels. Prior to the introduction of the cannon
Cannon
A cannon is any piece of artillery that uses gunpowder or other usually explosive-based propellents to launch a projectile. Cannon vary in caliber, range, mobility, rate of fire, angle of fire, and firepower; different forms of cannon combine and balance these attributes in varying degrees,...

 and ships with sufficient capacity to carry the large guns, navy warfare primarily involved ramming and boarding actions. In the time of ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, naval warfare centered on long, narrow vessels powered by banks of oarsmen
Watercraft rowing
Watercraft rowing is the act of propelling a boat using the motion of oars in the water. The difference between paddling and rowing is that with rowing the oars have a mechanical connection with the boat whereas with paddling the paddles are hand-held with no mechanical connection.This article...

 (such as trireme
Trireme
A trireme was a type of galley, a Hellenistic-era warship that was used by the ancient maritime civilizations of the Mediterranean, especially the Phoenicians, ancient Greeks and Romans.The trireme derives its name from its three rows of oars on each side, manned with one man per oar...

s and quinquereme
Quinquereme
From the 4th century BC on, new types of oared warships appeared in the Mediterranean Sea, superseding the trireme and transforming naval warfare. Ships became increasingly bigger and heavier, including some of the largest wooden ships ever constructed...

s) designed to ram and sink enemy vessels or come alongside the enemy vessel so its occupants could be attacked hand-to-hand. Naval warfare continued in this vein through the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 until the cannon became commonplace and capable of being reloaded quickly enough to be reused in the same battle. The Chola Dynasty
Chola Dynasty
The Chola dynasty was a Tamil dynasty which was one of the longest-ruling in some parts of southern India. The earliest datable references to this Tamil dynasty are in inscriptions from the 3rd century BC left by Asoka, of Maurya Empire; the dynasty continued to govern over varying territory until...

 of medieval India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 was known as a one of the greatest naval powers of its time in the Indian Ocean
Indian Ocean
The Indian Ocean is the third largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering approximately 20% of the water on the Earth's surface. It is bounded on the north by the Indian Subcontinent and Arabian Peninsula ; on the west by eastern Africa; on the east by Indochina, the Sunda Islands, and...

. In ancient China, large naval battles were known since the Qin Dynasty
Qin Dynasty
The Qin Dynasty was the first imperial dynasty of China, lasting from 221 to 207 BC. The Qin state derived its name from its heartland of Qin, in modern-day Shaanxi. The strength of the Qin state was greatly increased by the legalist reforms of Shang Yang in the 4th century BC, during the Warring...

 (also see Battle of Red Cliffs
Battle of Red Cliffs
The Battle of Red Cliffs, otherwise known as the Battle of Chibi, was a decisive battle at the end of the Han Dynasty, immediately prior to the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history. It was fought in the winter of 208/9 AD between the allied forces of the southern warlords Liu Bei and Sun Quan...

, 208), employing the war junk
Junk (ship)
A junk is an ancient Chinese sailing vessel design still in use today. Junks were developed during the Han Dynasty and were used as sea-going vessels as early as the 2nd century AD. They evolved in the later dynasties, and were used throughout Asia for extensive ocean voyages...

 during the Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

. However, China's first official standing navy was not established until the Southern Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

 in the 12th century, a time when gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

 was a revolutionary new application to warfare.

The mass and deck
Deck (ship)
A deck is a permanent covering over a compartment or a hull of a ship. On a boat or ship, the primary deck is the horizontal structure which forms the 'roof' for the hull, which both strengthens the hull and serves as the primary working surface...

 space required to carry a large number of cannon made oar-based propulsion impossible and ships came to rely primarily on sail
Sail
A sail is any type of surface intended to move a vessel, vehicle or rotor by being placed in a wind—in essence a propulsion wing. Sails are used in sailing.-History of sails:...

s. Warships were designed to carry increasing numbers of cannon and naval tactics
Naval tactics in the Age of Sail
Naval tactics in the Age of Sail were used from the early 17th century onward when sailing ships replaced oared galleys. These were used until the 1860s when steam-powered ironclad warships rendered sailing line of battle ships obsolete.-Early history:...

 evolved to bring a ship's firepower to bear in a broadside
Broadside
A broadside is the side of a ship; the battery of cannon on one side of a warship; or their simultaneous fire in naval warfare.-Age of Sail:...

, with ships-of-the-line
Ship of the line
A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through the mid-19th century to take part in the naval tactic known as the line of battle, in which two columns of opposing warships would manoeuvre to bring the greatest weight of broadside guns to bear...

 arranged in a line of battle
Line of battle
In naval warfare, the line of battle is a tactic in which the ships of the fleet form a line end to end. A primitive form had been used by the Portuguese under Vasco Da Gama in 1502 near Malabar against a Muslim fleet.,Maarten Tromp used it in the Action of 18 September 1639 while its first use in...

.

The development of large capacity, sail-powered ships carrying cannon led to a rapid expansion of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an navies, especially the Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 navies which dominated in the 16th and early 17th centuries, and helped propel the age of exploration and colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

. The repulsion of the Spanish Armada
Spanish Armada
This article refers to the Battle of Gravelines, for the modern navy of Spain, see Spanish NavyThe Spanish Armada was the Spanish fleet that sailed against England under the command of the Duke of Medina Sidonia in 1588, with the intention of overthrowing Elizabeth I of England to stop English...

 (1588) by the English fleet revolutionized naval warfare by the success of a guns-only strategy and caused a major overhaul of the Spanish Navy
Spanish Navy
The Spanish Navy is the maritime branch of the Spanish Armed Forces, one of the oldest active naval forces in the world. The Armada is responsible for notable achievements in world history such as the discovery of Americas, the first world circumnavigation, and the discovery of a maritime path...

, partly along English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 lines, which resulted in even greater dominance by the Spanish. From the beginning of the 17th century the Dutch cannibalized the Portuguese Empire
Portuguese Empire
The Portuguese Empire , also known as the Portuguese Overseas Empire or the Portuguese Colonial Empire , was the first global empire in history...

 in the East
Eastern Hemisphere
The Eastern Hemisphere, also Eastern hemisphere or eastern hemisphere, is a geographical term for the half of the Earth that is east of the Prime Meridian and west of 180° longitude. It is also used to refer to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australasia, vis-à-vis the Western Hemisphere, which includes...

 and, with the immense wealth gained, challenged Spanish hegemony
Hegemony
Hegemony is an indirect form of imperial dominance in which the hegemon rules sub-ordinate states by the implied means of power rather than direct military force. In Ancient Greece , hegemony denoted the politico–military dominance of a city-state over other city-states...

 at sea. From the 1620s, Dutch raiders seriously troubled Spanish shipping and, after a number of battles which went both ways, the Dutch Navy finally broke the long dominance of the Spanish Navy in the Battle of the Downs
Battle of the Downs
The naval Battle of the Downs took place on 31 October 1639 , during the Eighty Years' War, and was a decisive defeat of the Spanish, commanded by Admiral Antonio de Oquendo, by the United Provinces, commanded by Lieutenant-Admiral Maarten Tromp.- Background :The entry of France in the Thirty...

 (1639).

England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 emerged as a major naval power in the mid-17th century in the first Anglo-Dutch war
Anglo-Dutch Wars
The Anglo–Dutch Wars were a series of wars fought between the English and the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries for control over the seas and trade routes. The first war took place during the English Interregnum, and was fought between the Commonwealth of England and the Dutch Republic...

 with a technical victory. Successive decisive Dutch victories in the second and third Anglo-Dutch Wars confirmed the Dutch mastery of the seas during the Dutch Golden Age
Dutch Golden Age
The Golden Age was a period in Dutch history, roughly spanning the 17th century, in which Dutch trade, science, military and art were among the most acclaimed in the world. The first half is characterised by the Eighty Years' War till 1648...

, financed by the expansion of the Dutch Empire
Dutch Empire
The Dutch Empire consisted of the overseas territories controlled by the Dutch Republic and later, the modern Netherlands from the 17th to the 20th century. The Dutch followed Portugal and Spain in establishing an overseas colonial empire, but based on military conquest of already-existing...

. The French Navy
French Navy
The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

 won some important victories near the end of the 17th century but a focus upon land forces led to the French Navy's relative neglect, which allowed the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 to emerge with an ever-growing advantage in size and quality, especially in tactics and experience, from 1695. Throughout the 18th century the Royal Navy gradually gained ascendancy over the French Navy, with victories in the War of Spanish Succession (1701–1714), inconclusive battles in the War of Austrian Succession (1740–1748), victories in the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 (1754–1763), a partial reversal during the American War of Independence (1775–1783), and consolidation into uncontested supremacy during the 19th century from the Battle of Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

 in 1805. These conflicts saw the development and refinement of tactics
Naval tactics in the Age of Sail
Naval tactics in the Age of Sail were used from the early 17th century onward when sailing ships replaced oared galleys. These were used until the 1860s when steam-powered ironclad warships rendered sailing line of battle ships obsolete.-Early history:...

 which came to be called the line of battle
Line of battle
In naval warfare, the line of battle is a tactic in which the ships of the fleet form a line end to end. A primitive form had been used by the Portuguese under Vasco Da Gama in 1502 near Malabar against a Muslim fleet.,Maarten Tromp used it in the Action of 18 September 1639 while its first use in...

.
The next stage in the evolution of naval warfare was the introduction of metal plating
Armour
Armour or armor is protective covering used to prevent damage from being inflicted to an object, individual or a vehicle through use of direct contact weapons or projectiles, usually during combat, or from damage caused by a potentially dangerous environment or action...

 along the hull sides. The increased mass required steam-powered engines, resulting in an arms race between armor and weapon thickness and firepower. The first armored vessels, the French Gloire and British HMS Warrior
HMS Warrior (1860)
HMS Warrior was the first iron-hulled, armour-plated warship, built for the Royal Navy in response to the first ironclad warship, the French Gloire, launched a year earlier....

, made wooden vessels obsolete. Another significant improvement came with the invention of the rotating turrets, which allowed the guns to be aimed independently of ship movement. The battle between the CSS Virginia
CSS Virginia
CSS Virginia was the first steam-powered ironclad warship of the Confederate States Navy, built during the first year of the American Civil War; she was constructed as a casemate ironclad using the raised and cut down original lower hull and steam engines of the scuttled . Virginia was one of the...

 and the USS Monitor
USS Monitor
USS Monitor was the first ironclad warship commissioned by the United States Navy during the American Civil War. She is most famous for her participation in the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9, 1862, the first-ever battle fought between two ironclads...

 during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 (1861–1865) is often cited as the beginning of this age of maritime conflict. The Russian Navy was considered the third strongest in the world on the eve of the Russo-Japanese War, which turned to be a catastrophe for the Russian military in general and the Russian Navy in particular. Although neither party lacked courage, the Russians were defeated by the Japanese in the Battle of Port Arthur, which was the first time in warfare that mines were used for offensive purposes. The warships of the Baltic Fleet sent to the Far East were lost in the Battle of Tsushima. A further step change in naval firepower occurred when the United Kingdom launched HMS Dreadnought
HMS Dreadnought (1906)
HMS Dreadnought was a battleship of the British Royal Navy that revolutionised naval power. Her entry into service in 1906 represented such a marked advance in naval technology that her name came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships, the "dreadnoughts", as well as the class of...

 (1906), but naval tactics
Naval tactics in the Age of Steam
The development of the steam ironclad firing explosive shells in the mid 19th century rendered sailing tactics obsolete. New tactics were developed for the big-gun Dreadnought battleships. The mine, torpedo, submarine and aircraft posed new threats, each of which had to be countered, leading to...

 still emphasized the line of battle.

The first practical military submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s were developed in the late 19th century and by the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 had proven to be a powerful arm of naval warfare. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the German Navy
Kriegsmarine
The Kriegsmarine was the name of the German Navy during the Nazi regime . It superseded the Kaiserliche Marine of World War I and the post-war Reichsmarine. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches of the Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.The Kriegsmarine grew rapidly...

's submarine fleet of U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s almost starved the United Kingdom into submission and inflicted tremendous losses on U.S. coastal shipping
Second happy time
The Second Happy Time , also known among German submarine commanders as the "American shooting season" was the informal name for a phase in the Second Battle of the Atlantic during which Axis submarines attacked merchant shipping along the east coast of North America...

. The German battleship Tirpitz
German battleship Tirpitz
Tirpitz was the second of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, the architect of the Imperial Navy, the ship was laid down at the Kriegsmarinewerft in Wilhelmshaven in November 1936 and launched two and a half years later in April...

, a sister ship of the Bismarck
German battleship Bismarck
Bismarck was the first of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the German unification in 1871, the ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1936 and launched nearly three years later...

, was almost put out of action by miniature submarines known as X-Craft
X class submarine
The X class was a World War II midget submarine class built for the Royal Navy during 1943–44.Known individually as X-Craft, the vessels were designed to be towed to their intended area of operations by a full-size 'mother' submarine - - with a passage crew on board, the operational crew...

. The X-Craft severely damaged her and kept her in port for some months.

A major paradigm shift in naval warfare occurred with the introduction of the aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

. First at Taranto
Battle of Taranto
The naval Battle of Taranto took place on the night of 11–12 November 1940 during the Second World War. The Royal Navy launched the first all-aircraft ship-to-ship naval attack in history, flying a small number of obsolescent biplane torpedo bombers from an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea...

 in 1940 and then at Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor
Pearl Harbor, known to Hawaiians as Puuloa, is a lagoon harbor on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, west of Honolulu. Much of the harbor and surrounding lands is a United States Navy deep-water naval base. It is also the headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Fleet...

 in 1941, the carrier demonstrated its ability to strike decisively at enemy ships out of sight and range of surface vessels. The Battle of Leyte Gulf
Battle of Leyte Gulf
The Battle of Leyte Gulf, also called the "Battles for Leyte Gulf", and formerly known as the "Second Battle of the Philippine Sea", is generally considered to be the largest naval battle of World War II and, by some criteria, possibly the largest naval battle in history.It was fought in waters...

 (1944) was arguably the largest naval battle in history
Largest naval battle in history
The title of "largest naval battle in history" is disputed between adherents of criteria which include the numbers of personnel and/or vessels involved in the battle, and the total tonnage of the vessels involved...

; it was also the last battle in which battleships played a significant role. By the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the carrier had become the dominant force of naval warfare.

World War II also saw the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 become by far the largest Naval power in the world. In the late 20th and 21 centuries, the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 possessed over 70% of the world's total numbers and total tonnage of naval vessels of 1,000 tons or greater. Throughout the rest of the 20th century, the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 would maintain a tonnage greater than that of the next 17 largest navies combined. During the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, the Soviet Navy
Soviet Navy
The Soviet Navy was the naval arm of the Soviet Armed Forces. Often referred to as the Red Fleet, the Soviet Navy would have played an instrumental role in a Warsaw Pact war with NATO, where it would have attempted to prevent naval convoys from bringing reinforcements across the Atlantic Ocean...

 became a significant armed force, with large numbers of large, heavily armed ballistic missile submarine
Ballistic missile submarine
A ballistic missile submarine is a submarine equipped to launch ballistic missiles .-Description:Ballistic missile submarines are larger than any other type of submarine, in order to accommodate SLBMs such as the Russian R-29 or the American Trident...

s and extensive use of heavy, long-ranged antisurface missiles to counter the numerous United States carrier battle group
Carrier battle group
A carrier battle group consists of an aircraft carrier and its escorts, together composing the group. The first naval task forces built around carriers appeared just prior to and during World War II. The Imperial Japanese Navy was the first to assemble a large number of carriers into a single...

s. The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 is the only navy other than the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 to be presently acquiring large supercarrier
Supercarrier
Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial descriptive term for the largest type of aircraft carrier, usually displacing over 70,000 long tons.Supercarrier is an unofficial...

s (with a gross tonnage of 70,000 tonnes or more.) - the Queen Elizabeth class
Queen Elizabeth class
Queen Elizabeth class may refer to*Queen Elizabeth class battleship - of the early 20th century*Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier - planned design of the 1960s...

 ships , and only 3 nations (United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

, and Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

) presently operate CATOBAR
CATOBAR
CATOBAR is a system used for the launch and recovery of aircraft from the deck of an aircraft carrier...

 carriers of any size. However, France's upcoming future carrier (see Future French aircraft carrier
Future French aircraft carrier
PA2 is a planned new aircraft carrier developed for the French Navy by Thales Naval France and DCNS from the Thales UK/BMT design for the future British Queen Elizabeth class....

) will also be approximately the same size of 70,000 tons (and possibly even of a similar design) as the Queen Elizabeth class
Queen Elizabeth class
Queen Elizabeth class may refer to*Queen Elizabeth class battleship - of the early 20th century*Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier - planned design of the 1960s...

 carriers, and the Soviet Union was building two 80,000 ton Ulyanovsk class carriers
Soviet aircraft carrier Ulyanovsk
Ulyanovsk was the first of a class of Soviet nuclear-powered supercarriers which for the first time would have offered true blue water aviation capability for the Soviet Navy...

 prior to its dissolution.

Operations

A navy typically operates from one or more naval base
Naval base
A naval base is a military base, where warships and naval ships are deployed when they have no mission at sea or want to restock. Usually ships may also perform some minor repairs. Some naval bases are temporary homes to aircraft that usually stay on the ships but are undergoing maintenance while...

s. The base is a port
Port
A port is a location on a coast or shore containing one or more harbors where ships can dock and transfer people or cargo to or from land....

 that is specialized in naval operations, and often includes housing, a munitions depot
Arsenal
An arsenal is a place where arms and ammunition are made, maintained and repaired, stored, issued to authorized users, or any combination of those...

, docks for the vessels, and various repair facilities. During times of war temporary bases may be constructed in closer proximity to strategic locations, as it is advantageous in terms of patrols and station-keeping. Nations with historically strong naval forces have found it advantageous to obtain basing rights in other countries in areas of strategic interest.

Navy ships can operate independently or with a group, which may be a small squadron
Squadron (naval)
A squadron, or naval squadron, is a unit of 3-4 major warships, transport ships, submarines, or sometimes small craft that may be part of a larger task force or a fleet...

 of comparable ships, or a larger naval fleet
Naval fleet
A fleet, or naval fleet, is a large formation of warships, and the largest formation in any navy. A fleet at sea is the direct equivalent of an army on land....

 of various specialized ships. The commander of a fleet travels in the flagship
Flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

, which is usually the most powerful vessel in the group. Prior to the invention of radio, commands from the flagship were communicated by means of flags. At night signal lamps could be used for a similar purpose. Later these were replaced by the radio transmitter, or the flashing light when radio silence was needed.

A "blue water navy" is designed to operate far from the coastal waters of its home nation. These are ships capable of maintaining station for long periods of time in deep ocean, and will have a long logistical tail for their support. Many are also nuclear powered to save having to refuel. By contrast a "brown water navy" operates in the coastal periphery and along inland waterways, where larger ocean-going naval vessels can not readily enter. Regional powers may maintain a "green water navy" as a means of localized force projection. Blue water fleets may require specialized vessels, such as mine sweepers
Minesweeper (ship)
A minesweeper is a small naval warship designed to counter the threat posed by naval mines. Minesweepers generally detect then neutralize mines in advance of other naval operations.-History:...

, when operating in the littoral
Littoral
The littoral zone is that part of a sea, lake or river that is close to the shore. In coastal environments the littoral zone extends from the high water mark, which is rarely inundated, to shoreline areas that are permanently submerged. It always includes this intertidal zone and is often used to...

 regions along the coast.

Traditions

A basic tradition is that all ships commissioned in a navy are referred to as ships rather than vessels, with the exception of submarines, which are known as boats. The prefix on a ship's name indicates that it is a commissioned ship.

An important tradition on board naval vessels of some nations has been the ship's bell
Ship's bells
A ship's bell is usually made of bronze, and often has the ship's name engraved or cast on it. The ship's cook traditionally has the job of shining the ship's bell.-Timing of duty periods:...

. This was historically used to mark the passage of time, as warning devices in heavy fog, and for alarms and ceremonies.

The ship's captain, and more senior officers are "piped" aboard the ship using a Boatswain's call.

In the United States, the First Navy Jack
First Navy Jack
The First Navy Jack is the current U.S. jack authorized by the United States Navy. The design is traditionally regarded as that of first U.S. naval jack flown in the earliest years of the republic.-History:...

 is a flag that has the words, "Don't Tread on Me" on the flag.

By English tradition, ships have been referred to as a "she". However, it was long considered bad luck to permit women to sail on board naval vessels. To do so would invite a terrible storm that would wreck the ship. The only women that were welcomed on board were figurehead
Figurehead
A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and 19th century.-History:Although earlier ships had often had some form of bow ornamentation A figurehead is a carved wooden decoration found at the prow of ships largely made between the 16th and...

s mounted on the prow of the ship.

Firing a cannon salute partially disarms the ship, so firing a cannon for no combat reason showed respect and trust. As the tradition evolved, the number of cannon fired became an indication of the rank of the official being saluted.

Ships

Historically, navy ships were primarily intended for warfare. They were designed to withstand damage and to inflict the same, but only carried munitions and supplies for the voyage (rather than merchant cargo). Often, other ships which were not built specifically for warfare, such as the galleon
Galleon
A galleon was a large, multi-decked sailing ship used primarily by European states from the 16th to 18th centuries. Whether used for war or commerce, they were generally armed with the demi-culverin type of cannon.-Etymology:...

 or the armed merchant ships in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, did carry armaments. In more recent times, navy ships have become more specialized and have included supply ships, troop transports, repair ships, oil tankers and other logistics support ships as well as combat ships. So long as they are commissioned, however, they are all "ships"...

Modern navy combat ships are generally divided into seven main categories: aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s, cruiser
Cruiser
A cruiser is a type of warship. The term has been in use for several hundreds of years, and has had different meanings throughout this period...

s, destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s, frigate
Frigate
A frigate is any of several types of warship, the term having been used for ships of various sizes and roles over the last few centuries.In the 17th century, the term was used for any warship built for speed and maneuverability, the description often used being "frigate-built"...

s, corvette
Corvette
A corvette is a small, maneuverable, lightly armed warship, originally smaller than a frigate and larger than a coastal patrol craft or fast attack craft , although many recent designs resemble frigates in size and role...

s, submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s, and amphibious assault ship
Amphibious assault ship
An amphibious assault ship is a type of amphibious warfare ship employed to land and support ground forces on enemy territory by an amphibious assault...

s. There are also support and auxiliary ships, including the oiler, minesweeper
Minesweeper (ship)
A minesweeper is a small naval warship designed to counter the threat posed by naval mines. Minesweepers generally detect then neutralize mines in advance of other naval operations.-History:...

, patrol boat
Patrol boat
A patrol boat is a relatively small naval vessel generally designed for coastal defense duties.There have been many designs for patrol boats. They may be operated by a nation's navy, coast guard, or police force, and may be intended for marine and/or estuarine or river environments...

, hydrographic and oceanographic survey ship
Research vessel
A research vessel is a ship designed and equipped to carry out research at sea. Research vessels carry out a number of roles. Some of these roles can be combined into a single vessel, others require a dedicated vessel...

 and tender
Ship's tender
A ship's tender, usually referred to as a tender, is a boat, or a larger ship used to service a ship, generally by transporting people and/or supplies to and from shore or another ship...

. During the age of sail
Age of Sail
The Age of Sail was the period in which international trade and naval warfare were dominated by sailing ships, lasting from the 16th to the mid 19th century...

, the ship categories were divided into the ship of the line
Ship of the line
A ship of the line was a type of naval warship constructed from the 17th through the mid-19th century to take part in the naval tactic known as the line of battle, in which two columns of opposing warships would manoeuvre to bring the greatest weight of broadside guns to bear...

, frigate, and sloop-of-war
Sloop-of-war
In the 18th and most of the 19th centuries, a sloop-of-war was a warship with a single gun deck that carried up to eighteen guns. As the rating system covered all vessels with 20 guns and above, this meant that the term sloop-of-war actually encompassed all the unrated combat vessels including the...

.

Naval ship names are typically prefixed by an abbreviation indicating the national navy in which they serve. For a list of the prefixes used with ship names (HMS
Her Majesty's Ship
Her or His Majesty's Ship is the ship prefix used for ships of the navy in some monarchies, either formally or informally.-HMS:* In the British Royal Navy, it refers to the king or queen of the United Kingdom as appropriate at the time...

, USS, etc.) see ship prefix
Ship prefix
A ship prefix is a combination of letters, usually abbreviations, used in front of the name of a civilian or naval ship.Prefixes for civilian vessels may either identify the type of propulsion, such as "SS" for steamship, or purpose, such as "RV" for research vessel. Civilian prefixes are often...

.

Today ships are significantly faster than in former times, thanks to much improved propulsion systems. Also, the efficiency of the engines has improved, in terms of fuel, and of how many sailors it takes to operate them. In World War II, ships needed to refuel very often. However, today ships can go on very long journeys without refueling. Also, in World War II, the engine room needed about a dozen sailors to work the many engines, however, today, only about 4–5 are needed (depending on the class of the ship). Today, naval strike groups on longer missions are always followed by a range of support and replenishment ships supplying them with anything from fuel and munitions, to medical treatment and postal services. This allows strike groups and combat ships to remain at sea for several months at a time.

Boats

The term "boat" refers to small craft limited in their use by size and usually not capable of making lengthy independent voyages at sea. The old navy adage to differentiate between ships and boats is that boats are capable of being carried by ships. (Submarines by this rule are ships rather than boats, but are customarily referred to as boats reflecting their previous smaller size.)

Navies use many types of boat, ranging from 9 feet (2.7 m) dinghies to 135 feet (41.1 m) landing craft. They are powered by either diesels, out-board gasoline engines, or waterjets. Most boats are built of aluminum, fiberglass, or steel. Rigid-hulled inflatable boat
Rigid-hulled inflatable boat
A rigid-hulled inflatable boat, or rigid-inflatable boat is a light-weight but high-performance and high-capacity boat constructed with a solid, shaped hull and flexible tubes at the gunwale. The design is stable and seaworthy...

s are also used.

Patrol boat
Patrol boat
A patrol boat is a relatively small naval vessel generally designed for coastal defense duties.There have been many designs for patrol boats. They may be operated by a nation's navy, coast guard, or police force, and may be intended for marine and/or estuarine or river environments...

s are used for patrols of coastal areas, lakes and large rivers.

Landing craft
Landing craft
Landing craft are boats and seagoing vessels used to convey a landing force from the sea to the shore during an amphibious assault. Most renowned are those used to storm the beaches of Normandy, the Mediterranean, and many Pacific islands during WWII...

 are designed to carry troops, vehicles, or cargo from ship to shore under combat conditions, to unload, to withdraw from the beach, and to return to the ship. They are rugged, with powerful engines, and usually armed. There are many types in today's navies including hovercraft
Hovercraft
A hovercraft is a craft capable of traveling over surfaces while supported by a cushion of slow moving, high-pressure air which is ejected against the surface below and contained within a "skirt." Although supported by air, a hovercraft is not considered an aircraft.Hovercraft are used throughout...

. They will typically have a power-operated bow ramp, a cargo well and after structures that house enginerooms, pilot houses, and stowage compartments. These boats are sometimes carried by larger ships.
Special operations craft are high-speed craft used for insertion and extraction of special forces personnel. May be transported by air.

Boats used in non-combat roles include lifeboats, mail boats, line handling boats, buoy boats, aircraft rescue boats, torpedo retrievers, explosive ordnance disposal craft, utility boats, dive boats, targets, and work boats. Boats are also used for survey work, tending divers, and minesweeping operations. Boats for carrying cargo and personnel are sometimes known as launches, gigs, barges or shore party boats.

Units

Naval forces are typically arranged into units based on the number of ships included, a single ship being the smallest operational unit. Ships may be combined into squadrons
Squadron (naval)
A squadron, or naval squadron, is a unit of 3-4 major warships, transport ships, submarines, or sometimes small craft that may be part of a larger task force or a fleet...

 or flotilla
Flotilla
A flotilla , or naval flotilla, is a formation of small warships that may be part of a larger fleet. A flotilla is usually composed of a homogeneous group of the same class of warship, such as frigates, destroyers, torpedo boats, submarines, gunboats, or minesweepers...

s, which may be formed into fleets
Naval fleet
A fleet, or naval fleet, is a large formation of warships, and the largest formation in any navy. A fleet at sea is the direct equivalent of an army on land....

. The largest unit size may be the whole Navy or Admiralty
Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

.

A task force
Task force
A task force is a unit or formation established to work on a single defined task or activity. Originally introduced by the United States Navy, the term has now caught on for general usage and is a standard part of NATO terminology...

 can be assembled using ships from different fleets for an operational task.

Personnel

Despite their acceptance in many areas of naval service, women sailors were not permitted to serve on board U.S. submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

s until the U.S. Navy lifted the ban in April 2010. The major reasons historically cited by the U.S. Navy were the extended duty tours and close conditions which afford almost no privacy. The United Kingdom's Royal Navy has had similar restrictions. Australia, Canada, Norway, and Spain previously opened submarine service to women sailors.

Ranks

A navy will typically have two sets of ranks, one for enlisted personnel and one for officers
Officer (armed forces)
An officer is a member of an armed force or uniformed service who holds a position of authority. Commissioned officers derive authority directly from a sovereign power and, as such, hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of a specific office or position...

.

Typical ranks for commissioned officers include the following, in ascending order (Commonwealth
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

 ranks are listed first on each line; USA ranks are listed second in those instances where they differ from Commonwealth ranks):
  • Acting Sub-Lieutenant / Ensign
    Ensign (rank)
    Ensign is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank itself acquired the name....

     / Corvette Lieutenant
    Corvette Lieutenant
    Corvette lieutenant is a rank in some navies, especially those of Spain and Latin America, roughly equivalent to a Royal Navy acting sub-lieutenant or a US Navy ensign....

  • Sub Lieutenant / Lieutenant Junior Grade / Frigate Lieutenant
    Frigate Lieutenant
    Frigate lieutenant is a rank in some navies, especially those of Spain and Latin America, roughly equivalent to a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy or a lieutenant in the US Navy. The French Navy equivalent is a ship-of-the-line ensign .The NATO rank code is OF-1...

  • Lieutenant
    Lieutenant
    A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

     (Commonwealth & USA)/ Ship-of-the-Line Lieutenant
    Ship-of-the-Line Lieutenant
    Ship-of-the-line lieutenant is a common naval rank, equivalent to the naval rank of Lieutenant in the UK, Commonwealth and US.The name of the rank derives from the name of the largest class of warship, the ship of the line, as opposed to smaller types of warship .The rank is lieutenant de vaisseau...

     / Captain Lieutenant
    Captain Lieutenant
    Captain lieutenant or captain-lieutenant is a military rank, used in a number of different navies worldwide.It is generally equivalent to the Commonwealth or US rank of lieutenant, and has the NATO rank code of OF-2, though this can vary....

  • Lieutenant Commander
    Lieutenant Commander
    Lieutenant Commander is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander...

     (Commonwealth & USA)/ Corvette Captain
    Corvette Captain
    Corvette captain is a rank in many navies which theoretically corresponds to command of a corvette . The equivalent rank in the United Kingdom, Commonwealth and USA is lieutenant commander...

  • Commander
    Commander
    Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

     (Commonwealth & USA)/ Frigate Captain
    Frigate Captain
    Frigate captain is a naval rank in the naval forces of several countries.It is, usually, equivalent to the Commonwealth/US Navy rank of commander.Countries using this rank include Argentina and Spain , France , Belgium , Italy ,...

  • Captain
    Captain (naval)
    Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The NATO rank code is OF-5, equivalent to an army full colonel....

     (Commonwealth & USA)/ Ship-of-the-Line Captain
    Ship-of-the-Line Captain
    Ship-of-the-line captain is a rank that appears in several navies...

  • Commodore
    Commodore (rank)
    Commodore is a military rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. Non-English-speaking nations often use the rank of flotilla admiral or counter admiral as an equivalent .It is often regarded as a one-star rank with a NATO code of OF-6, but is not always...

     / Flotilla Admiral
    Flotilla Admiral
    Flotilla admiral is the lowest flag rank, a rank above captain, in the modern navies of Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden. It corresponds to the ranks of commodore or rear admiral ....

     (in USA only: Rear Admiral (lower half))
  • Rear Admiral
    Rear Admiral
    Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

     (in USA only: Rear Admiral (upper half))
  • Vice Admiral
    Vice Admiral
    Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

     (Commonwealth & USA)
  • Admiral
    Admiral
    Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet . It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM"...

     (Commonwealth & USA)
  • Admiral of the Fleet
    Admiral of the Fleet
    An admiral of the fleet is a military naval officer of the highest rank. In many nations the rank is reserved for wartime or ceremonial appointments...

     (Commonwealth) / Fleet Admiral (USA) / Grand Admiral
    Grand Admiral
    Grand admiral is a historic naval rank, generally being the highest such rank present in any particular country. Its most notable use was in Germany — the German word is Großadmiral.-France:...



"Flag officers" include any rank that includes the word "admiral" (or commodore in services other than the US Navy), and are generally in command of a battle group, strike group or similar flotilla of ships, rather than a single ship or aspect of a ship. However, commodores can also be temporary or honorary positions. For example, during World War II, a Navy captain was assigned duty as a convoy commodore, which meant that he was still a captain, but in charge of all the merchant vessels in the convoy.

The most senior rank employed by a navy will tend to vary depending on the size of the navy and whether it is wartime or peacetime, for example, few people have ever held the rank of Fleet Admiral in the U.S. Navy, the chief of the Royal Australian Navy
Royal Australian Navy
The Royal Australian Navy is the naval branch of the Australian Defence Force. Following the Federation of Australia in 1901, the ships and resources of the separate colonial navies were integrated into a national force: the Commonwealth Naval Forces...

 holds the rank of Vice Admiral, and the chief of the Irish Naval Service
Irish Naval Service
The Naval Service is the navy of Ireland and is one of the three standing branches of the Irish Defence Forces. Its main base is in Haulbowline, County Cork....

 holds the rank of Commodore.

Naval infantry

During the era of the Roman empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

, the naval forces included marine legionaries for boarding actions
Boarding (attack)
Boarding, in its simplest sense, refers to the insertion on to a ship's deck of individuals. However, when it is classified as an attack, in most contexts, it refers to the forcible insertion of personnel that are not members of the crew by another party without the consent of the captain or crew...

. These were troops primarily trained in land warfare, and did not need to be skilled at handling a ship. Much later during the age of sail, a component of marines served a similar role, being ship-borne soldiers who were used either during boarding actions, as sharp-shooters, or in raids along the shore.

The Spanish Infantería de Marina
Infanteria de Marina
The Spanish Navy Marines is a corps within the Spanish Navy responsible for providing amphibious warfare from the sea utilizing naval platforms and resources...

was formed in 1537, making it the oldest current marine corps in the world. The British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

 combine both being a ship-based force and also being specially trained in commando
Commando
In English, the term commando means a specific kind of individual soldier or military unit. In contemporary usage, commando usually means elite light infantry and/or special operations forces units, specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting, rappelling and similar techniques, to conduct and...

-style operations and tactics, operating in some cases separately from the rest of the Navy. The Royal Marines also have their own special forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 unit
Special Boat Service
The Special Boat Service is the special forces unit of the British Royal Navy. Together with the Special Air Service, Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group they form the United Kingdom Special Forces and come under joint control of the same Director Special...

. The United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 is a component of the Navy with a separate military leadership structure.

Naval aviation


In World War I several navies used floatplane
Floatplane
A floatplane is a type of seaplane, with slender pontoons mounted under the fuselage; only the floats of a floatplane normally come into contact with water, with the fuselage remaining above water...

s and flying boat
Flying boat
A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage...

s - mainly for scouting
Scout plane
The term scout plane refers to a type of surveillance aircraft, usually of single-engined, two/three seats, shipborne type, and used for the purpose of discovering an enemy position and directing artillery...

. By World War II the aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 could carry bomber aircraft capable of attacking naval and land targets as well as fighter aircraft for defence. Since World War II helicopters have been embarked on smaller ships in roles such as anti-submarine warfare. Some navies have also operated land-based patrol aircraft.

Additional reading

  • Non-fiction:
    • Combat Fleets of the World: Their Ships, Aircraft and Systems - Naval Institute Press. Published annually. Comprehensive.
    • Braudel, Fernand
      Fernand Braudel
      Fernand Braudel was a French historian and a leader of the Annales School. His scholarship focused on three main projects, each representing several decades of intense study: The Mediterranean , Civilization and Capitalism , and the unfinished Identity of France...

      , The Mediterranean in the Ancient World
    • Corbett, Sir Julian
      Julian Corbett
      Sir Julian Stafford Corbett was a prominent British naval historian and geostrategist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, whose works helped shape the Royal Navy's reforms of that era...

      , Some Principles of Maritime Strategy, 1911.
    • Hughes, Jr., Wayne P., Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat, 1999, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 1-55750-392-3
    • Kennedy, Paul
      Paul Kennedy
      Paul Michael Kennedy CBE, FBA , is a British historian at Yale University specialising in the history of international relations, economic power and grand strategy. He has published prominent books on the history of British foreign policy and Great Power struggles...

      . The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery. New York: Scribner, 1976. ISBN 0-394-54674-1
    • Mahan, Alfred Thayer
      Alfred Thayer Mahan
      Alfred Thayer Mahan was a United States Navy flag officer, geostrategist, and historian, who has been called "the most important American strategist of the nineteenth century." His concept of "sea power" was based on the idea that countries with greater naval power will have greater worldwide...

      , The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783
      The Influence of Sea Power upon History
      The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660-1783 is a history of naval warfare written in 1890 by Alfred Thayer Mahan. It details the role of sea power throughout history and discusses the various factors needed to support and achieve sea power, with emphasis on having the largest and most...

      , 1918, Little Brown, Boston.
    • Marder, Arthur
      Arthur Marder
      Arthur Jacob Marder was a highly regarded American historian specializing in British naval history in the period 1880 - 1945.-Early life and education:...

      . The Anatomy of British Seapower. New York: Octagon Books, 1940.
    • Marder, Arthur
      Arthur Marder
      Arthur Jacob Marder was a highly regarded American historian specializing in British naval history in the period 1880 - 1945.-Early life and education:...

      . "The Influence of History on Sea Power: The Royal Navy and the Lessons of 1914-1918," Pacific Historical Review. November, 1972.
    • Richmond, Herbert
      Herbert Richmond
      Admiral Sir Herbert William Richmond KCB was a prominent naval officer, who also served as Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at Cambridge University and Master of Downing College, Cambridge...

      . National Policy and National Strength and other Essays. London: Longman, Green and Co., 1928.
    • Sprout, Harold and Margaret Sprout. Toward a New Order of Sea Power: American Naval Policy ... 1918-1922. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1940.
    • Starr, Chester G., The Influence of Sea Power on Ancient History, 1989, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-505666-3
    • Tangredi, Sam, "Globalization and Maritime Power", 2002 - National Defense University
      National Defense University
      The National Defense University is an institution of higher education funded by the United States Department of Defense, intended to facilitate high-level training, education, and the development of national security strategy. It is chartered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with Navy Vice Admiral...

      , ISBN 1-57906-060-9
    • Trafalgar 200 Through the Lens, ISBN 0-9553004-0-1
    • Woolley, Peter J. "The Role of Strategy in Great Power Decline," Naval War College Review
      Naval War College Review
      The Naval War College Review is a quarterly peer-reviewed academic journal published by the United States Navy's Naval War College. It covers public policy matters of interest to the maritime services and was established in 1948....

      . Vol. XLIX, no. 1 (1996). ISBN 1-884733-06-9

  • Fiction:
    • Alan Lewrie
      Alan Lewrie
      Alan Lewrie is the hero and main character of Dewey Lambdin's naval adventure series of novels set during the American and the French Revolutions and the Napoleonic Wars.- Character :...

       series by Dewey Lambdin
      Dewey Lambdin
      Dewey Lambdin is an American nautical historical novelist. He is best known for his Alan Lewrie naval adventure series, spanning the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Besides the Alan Lewrie series, he is also the author of What Lies Buried: a novel of Old Cape Fear.The son of a U.S...

    • Aubrey–Maturin series
      Aubrey–Maturin series
      The Aubrey–Maturin series is a sequence of nautical historical novels—20 completed and one unfinished—by Patrick O'Brian, set during the Napoleonic Wars and centering on the friendship between Captain Jack Aubrey of the Royal Navy and his ship's surgeon Stephen Maturin, who is also a physician,...

       by Patrick O'Brian
      Patrick O'Brian
      Patrick O'Brian, CBE , born Richard Patrick Russ, was an English novelist and translator, best known for his Aubrey–Maturin series of novels set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars and centred on the friendship of English Naval Captain Jack Aubrey and the Irish–Catalan physician Stephen...

    • Horatio Hornblower
      Horatio Hornblower
      Horatio Hornblower is a fictional Royal Navy officer who is the protagonist of a series of novels by C. S. Forester. He was later the subject of films and television programs.The original Hornblower tales began with the 1937 novel The Happy Return Horatio Hornblower is a fictional Royal Navy...

       series by C. S. Forester
      C. S. Forester
      Cecil Scott "C.S." Forester was the pen name of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith , an English novelist who rose to fame with tales of naval warfare. His most notable works were the 11-book Horatio Hornblower series, depicting a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic era, and The African Queen...

    • Richard Bolitho
      Richard Bolitho
      The Bolitho novels are a series of nautical war novels written by Douglas Reeman . They focus on the military careers of Richard Bolitho and Adam Bolitho in the Royal Navy, from the time of the American Revolution past the Napoleonic Era.-Richard Bolitho:Richard Bolitho is a fictional Royal Navy...

       series by Alexander Kent (Pseudonym of Douglas Reeman
      Douglas Reeman
      Douglas Edward Reeman, born at Thames Ditton, is a British author who has written many historical fiction books on the Royal Navy, mainly set during either World War II or the Napoleonic Wars....

      )
    • Tom Clancy
      Tom Clancy
      Thomas Leo "Tom" Clancy, Jr. is an American author, best known for his technically detailed espionage, military science, and techno thriller storylines set during and in the aftermath of the Cold War, along with video games on which he did not work, but which bear his name for licensing and...

      , The Hunt for Red October
      The Hunt for Red October
      The Hunt for Red October is a 1984 novel by Tom Clancy. The story follows the intertwined adventures of Soviet submarine captain Marko Aleksandrovich Ramius and CIA analyst Jack Ryan.The novel was originally published by the U.S...

      , Red Storm Rising
      Red Storm Rising
      Red Storm Rising is a 1986 techno-thriller novel by Tom Clancy and Larry Bond about a Third World War in Europe between NATO and Warsaw Pact forces, set around the mid-1980s...



See also

    • The British East India Company's Marine or Honourable East India Company's Marine, a colonial precursor of the Indian Navy that existed from 1612 to 1686
    • Bombay Marine, a colonial precursor of the Indian Navy that existed from 1686 to 1830 and from 1863 to 1877
    • Deutsche Marine, the German Navy
      German Navy
      The German Navy is the navy of Germany and is part of the unified Bundeswehr .The German Navy traces its roots back to the Imperial Fleet of the revolutionary era of 1848 – 52 and more directly to the Prussian Navy, which later evolved into the Northern German Federal Navy...

    • Her Majesty's Indian Marine, a colonial precursor of the Indian Navy that existed from 1877 to 1892
    • Koninklijke Marine, the Royal Dutch Navy
    • Marine nationale, the French Navy
      French Navy
      The French Navy, officially the Marine nationale and often called La Royale is the maritime arm of the French military. It includes a full range of fighting vessels, from patrol boats to a nuclear powered aircraft carrier and 10 nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are capable of launching...

    • Royal Indian Marine, a colonial precursor of the Indian Navy that existed from 1892 to 1934

  • Blue-water navy
    Blue-water navy
    The term blue-water navy is a colloquialism used to describe a maritime force capable of operating across the deep waters of open oceans. While what actually constitutes such a force remains undefined, there is a requirement for the ability to exercise sea control at wide ranges...

  • List of naval battles
  • List of navies
  • Number of warships in service worldwide
    Number of warships in service worldwide
    The following table lists numbers of warships in service, by type and by country.-Guide to table:* The table only counts warships that are commissioned and active ....

  • List of submarine classes in service
  • List of naval ship classes in service
  • List of auxiliary ship classes in service
  • Modern naval tactics
    Modern naval tactics
    The term modern naval tactics refers to tactical doctrines developed after World War II, following the final obsolescence of the battleship and the development of long-range missiles. Since there has been no major naval conflict since World War II, with the exception of the Falklands War, many of...

  • Naval fleet
    Naval fleet
    A fleet, or naval fleet, is a large formation of warships, and the largest formation in any navy. A fleet at sea is the direct equivalent of an army on land....

  • Navies of landlocked countries
    Navies of landlocked countries
    A landlocked navy is a naval force operated by a country which does not have a coastline. While such countries are obviously unable to develop a sea-going blue-water navy, they may still deploy armed forces on major lakes or rivers....


External links

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