We’ve been getting to grips with the history of our Royal Navy in recent blog posts, but what we are yet to discuss is the might of other Navies around the globe. At one time, the British Navy was the most powerful force in the world, and the envy of other world leaders, but we have since slipped down the list as other nations have built and developed their naval forces.

USA

The US Navy is, unsurprisingly, at the top of the list. It has the largest area of responsibility, so it makes sense that it has the largest number of ships compared to other naval forces. The area that is covered by the US Navy includes the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans, as well as the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf and the Horn of Africa.

In terms of manpower, the US has an impressive repertoire, with more than 325,000 men and women on active duty. They also have 287 deployable battle force ships, 34% of which are currently deployed, and over 3700 operational aircraft.

The US Navy acts as the protectors of their people, assistants to their military teams and can also provide disaster relief to countries in need.

China

The Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is a young Navy, established in September 1950 after the Chinese Civil War came to an end. The force has grown at a dramatic rate over the past few years, as the government funnels more money into their Navy.

Although the PLAN has only one aircraft carrier and 133,000 personnel, the force continues to grow. In fact, it is thought that by 2020 the Chinese Navy will be larger than that of the United States, as they plan to grow to 351 ships.

The young Navy is continuing to grow and learn as it has been playing its part in the international antipiracy effort, conducting extended voyages off the Horn of Africa.

Russia

At the end of the Cold War, Russia inherited the bulk of the Soviet Navy, a force that was established in 1918, but whose roots date back to the late 17th century. In 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian Navy went into severe decline, with expenditures reduced and many ships scrapped or laid up.

Since then, the Russian Navy has been slowly growing once again as they plan to increase their fleet and worldwide power. They have 79 ships of frigate size, including one aircraft carrier. However, there are doubts surrounding how many of these are seaworthy and ready for deployment, due to the old age of many of them.

The strength of the Russian Navy lies under the surface in its submarine force, as it has 15 nuclear attack submarines. There are plans for expansion of the force, yet the only plans that are in development are the building of two submarines, whereas the other plans remain unfunded and on the drawing board.

UK

Being a small island, it’s no surprise that the UK is home to a smaller Navy compared to that of the USA, China and Russia. There are approximately 33,400 active personnel divided into different fleets, such as the Submarine Service, Fleet Air Arm and Royal Marines. Currently, the Royal Navy has three large amphibious assault ships, 19 frigates and destroyers, seven nuclear attack submarines and four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

There is a particularly rich history of the Royal Navy, some of which you will already be educated on if you have been reading our series about how the Navy evolved.

The Royal Navy continues to grow as plans are underway to construct two new aircraft carriers which will be the largest ships ever to serve in the Royal Navy. 

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