* Royal Navy modern trends

The Royal Navy: Modern Trends

Figure 1.--This is a classic Edward Chambré Hardman portrait, 'Birth of the Ark Royal' about to be launched at Birkenhead near Liverppol. She encaptualted the decline of the Royal Navy. She was laid down in 1942 and while launched in 1950 was not commissioned until 1955. When decommissioned (1979), she was the last Royal Navy carrier operating high-performance fixed-wing aircraft. Taking 13 years to build and outfit a carrier meant thst it was badly obsolete at the time it came into service. A British reader writes, "I was also struck by the implication of the boy in the picture that his future was employment in ship building, although as it was playing out Britisg shipbuilders could not compete with Asian yards. Of course military construction was a different matter.".

Britain developed a national naval policy of mainaining a naval force equal to that of the two other largest navies. This policy assured victory over the German Nsvy in World War I. Britain after the War, however, could no longer aford the world's dominant navy. This was especially the case with regards to the U.S. Navy. America had not been economically damaged by World War I. Britain thus accepted naval parity with America. This was conformed by the Washington Naval Treatioes (1921). As a result, Britain enbtered World War II with a much reduced naval force. And as a result, was nearly defeated by the German U-boat fleet in World War II. The War further damaged Britain economically as did the decision to pursue socialist economic policies. Thuis meant that Britain could no longer aford to mainatain even the much reduced post World War I Treaty Navy. It was now the U.S. Navy that dominated the seas. And slowly the Soviet Union began building a major navy. The Royal Navy was an important partner for the americans in the Cold War, but a decidedly junior partnrr. With the decline of the Empire, a major blue water navy was no longer essential even if it could be afforded. The day of the battleship had ended in World II. The aircraft carrier was now the dominant expression of naval power. But slowly the British began decommissioning its World War II carrier fleet with few replacements. It the end the Royal Navy did away with fixed-wing carrier aircraft. The Royal Navy did maintain small carriers for Vertical Take Off and Landing aircraft (VTOL). This mean smallair compliments of less effective aircraft. Just before the Falklands crisis, Britain almost did away with carriers altogether (1982). If that had occurred, Britain could not have responded to the Argentine seixzure of the Fallklands. The Royal Navy's principal force today is Vanguard class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). The class was introducedas part of the Trident nuclear program, (1994). The Royal Air Force WE.177 was decommiiined (1998). This ended free-fall nuclear weapons. The four Vanguard-class submarines are the sole platforms for Britain's nuclear weapons. Each submarine is armed with up to 16 UGM-133 Trident II missiles. The class is scheduled to be replaced starting in 2028.


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Created: 5:24 AM 9/6/2020
Last updated: 5:24 AM 9/6/2020