Naval Service: Wikis


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United Kingdom
Naval Service
Surface Fleet
Fleet Air Arm
Submarine Service
Royal Naval Reserve
Nursing Service (QARNNS)
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Royal Marines Reserve
History and future
History of the Royal Navy
History of the Royal Marines
Customs and traditions
Future of the Royal Navy
Current fleet
Current deployments
Historic ships
The Admiralty
Senior officers
Officer rank insignia
Ratings rank insignia
Related civilian agencies of
the Ministry of Defence

Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service

The Naval Service is the naval branch of the British Armed Forces, which includes civilian agencies under the control of the Navy Board. According to the Queen's Regulations for the Royal Navy[1], it consists of:

Formerly the Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service, and the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors were also considered part of the Naval Service.

HMS Illustrious, one of two Invincible class aircraft carriers currently in service. A third carrier is in reserve.

The term Naval Service should be distinguished from the "UK Naval Services", which consist of the Naval Service and the Merchant Navy.

The April 2005 regular strength of the Naval Service (i.e. Royal Navy and Royal Marines) was 36,320. The Naval Service is dominated by the Royal Navy, which accounts for over 80% of Naval Service personnel. The Naval Service as a whole comes under the command of the Navy Board, which is headed by the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff.


Royal Navy

Referred to as the "Senior Service" by virtue of it being the oldest service within the British Armed Forces, the Royal Navy had a strength of 34,900 in April 2006. The Navy has been structured around a single fleet since the abolition of the Eastern and Western fleets in 1971.[2] Command of deployable assets is exercised by the Commander-in-Chief Fleet, who also has authority over the Royal Marines, and the civilian Royal Fleet Auxiliary.[3] Personnel matters are the responsibility of the Second Sea Lord/Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command, an appointment usually held by a vice-admiral.[4]

The United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent is carried aboard the navy's Vanguard-class of four nuclear ballistic-missile submarines. The surface fleet consists of carriers, destroyers, frigates, amphibious assault ships, patrol ships, mine-countermeasures, and miscellaneous vessels. A submarine service has existed within the Royal Navy for over 100-years. The service possessed a combined fleet of diesel-electric and nuclear-powered submarines in the early 1990s. Following the Options for Change defence review, diesel-electric submarines were withdrawn and the "hunter-killer" fleet is now exclusively nuclear-powered.

Royal Marines

Royal Marines on exercise

The infantry component of the Naval Service is the Corps of Royal Marines, which had a reported strength of approximately 7,400 in 2006.[5] Consisting of a single manoeuvre brigade (3 Commando) and various independent units, the Royal Marines specialise in amphibious, arctic, and mountain warfare. [6] Contained within 3 Commando Brigade are three attached army units; an infantry battalion (from April 2008), an artillery regiment, and an engineer regiment.[7] The Commando Logistic Regiment consists of personnel from the Army, Royal Marines, and Royal Navy.[8]

Former components of the Naval Service

A Trident II SLBM being launched from one of the Royal Navy's 4 Vanguard class submarines as a test launch.

The following services were formerly also components of the Naval Service:

Naval Reserve Forces:

  • the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (merged with the Royal Naval Reserve in 1958)
    • the Royal Naval Volunteer (Supplementary) Reserve
    • the Royal Naval Volunteer (Wireless) Reserve
    • the Royal Naval Volunteer (Postal) Reserve)
  • the Royal Naval Emergency Reserve (disbanded c. 1959)
  • the Royal Naval Special Reserve (disbanded c. 1960)
  • the Women's Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (renamed the Women's Royal Naval Reserve in 1958, merged into the Royal Naval Reserve in 1993)
    • the Women's Royal Naval Supplementary Reserve
  • the Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service Reserve (incorporated within the Royal Naval Reserve in 2000)

Current ships and units of the Naval Service

Note: does not include landing craft or other carried vessels

Shore Establishments


  1. ^ Queen's Regulations for the Royal Navy (Nov. 2007), Ch. 1
  2. ^ Hampshire (1975), The Royal Navy Since 1945: its transition to the nuclear age, p248
  3. ^ Fleet Command and Organisation,
  4. ^
  5. ^ Strength of UK Regular Forces by Service and whether trained or untrained at 1 April each year,
  6. ^ BBC News (2002), UK's mountain warfare elite,
  7. ^ The Commando Role for 1 RIFLER,
  8. ^ Commando Logistic Regiment,




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