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The Fleet


The traditional image of the Royal Navy may be of a warship at sea but there is a lot more to it than that. It is fully equipped to fight in the air and on land as well as the ocean. This versatility is thanks to the four ‘fighting arms’, which together make up the Royal Navy team.

In the air

Helicopters, jets and other aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm add to the Royal Navy’s effectiveness in combat. However, combat is not the only role they play – anti-smuggling and anti-terrorism missions; transporting troops and equipment; reconnaissance; medical evacuations and humanitarian relief are all within the Fleet Air Arm’s cabability.

On land

The Royal Marines are the amphibious Commandos of the Royal Navy. Commando units can, and often do, deploy anywhere in the world at short notice. They are equipped with a wide variety of specialised weapons and equipment to operate in any environment – from mountains, desert and jungle to the Arctic.

The ocean’s surface

The warships of the Royal Navy make up the Surface Fleet. Aircraft carriers provide a platform for Royal Navy helicopters and fixed-wing fighter aircraft. Destroyers and frigates provide the backbone of the fleet. Destroyers are best equipped to defend against air attack; frigates to fight other ships and submarines, though both can operate in all three roles. There are many other types of ships in the Fleet, from mine countermeasures and offshore patrol vessels to survey ships.

Beneath the waves

Submarines, which can travel the world’s oceans unseen and unheard, can be used to attack ships and other submarines. With their sophisticated weaponry, they can also strike targets on land up to 1,000 miles away, with pinpoint accuracy. Their stealth abilities make them ideal for surveillance – able to monitor surface ships closely, while remaining undetected.

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