What does it do?
Until the Second World War, the Royal Navy was the largest navy in the world. Now it is second, behind the USA. Its role has changed; in the Second World War, its ships protected convoys and fought German U-boats in the Atlantic, but in the Cold War years its sights were trained largely on the Soviet Union, along with one-off campaigns, most significantly the Falklands War in 1982. Since 1990, operations have varied from the two Gulf wars of 1991 and 2003 to support of troops in the Balkans in the mid-1990s and, most recently, rescuing British nationals from Beirut.
It has 74 ships and 14 submarines, and many aircraft. In total, 37,000 people are in uniform, from engineers and weapons specialists to navigators and logistics officers.
The fleet headquarters are in Portsmouth, which is also, with Plymouth and Faslane in Scotland, a major home port. The main air stations are Yeovilton in Somerset and Culdrose in Cornwall.
Is this you?
The Navy recruits about 250 graduates a year; about 70 are engineers, with the rest spread between other specialist roles. Engineers, and dental and medical officers, need relevant degrees.
The recruitment process:
Details of officer roles, including for the Royal Marines, can be found at royalnavy.mod.uk, but applications start at your local Armed Forces Careers offices. These choose candidates for the two-day Admiralty interview board, which will test you mentally and physically and offer the chance to describe times when you've shown courage and leadership. Training starts with a year at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth. All recruits complete the first three phases - militarisation; initial sea training; and academic training and education. Then comes up to two years' relevant professional training, and instruction on leading junior personnel.
Graduates start on about £23,000, rising to £33,000 or more after two years. After qualification, there's a bonus of at least £6 a day when you're away at sea.
Beam me up Scotty?
Promotion to lieutenant is automatic provided you pass the training and perform well. The balance of time at sea and in shore-based work varies. Warfare officers spend most time away - about three out of every four years.
Who's the boss?
The First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff is Admiral Sir Jonathon Band, who joined the Navy in 1967. His last sea command was of HMS Illustrious, the aircraft carrier.
Little known fact:
The Navy is known as the senior service because it is the oldest branch of the armed forces, formed in the ninth century by Alfred the Great.Reuse content