The British Navy maintains a fleet of technologically sophisticated ships and submarines including an amphibious assault ship, two amphibious transport docks, four ballistic missile submarines (which maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent), seven nuclear fleet submarines, six guided missile destroyers, 13 frigates, 15 mine-countermeasure vessels and 22 patrol vessels. As of 19 March 2016, there are 77 commissioned ships (including submarines) in the Royal Navy, plus 9 ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA); there are also five Merchant Navy ships available to the RFA under a private finance initiative.
The RFA replenishes Royal Navy warships at sea, and augments the Royal Navy’s amphibious warfare capabilities through its three Bay-class landing ship vessels, It also works as a force multiplier for the Royal Navy, often doing patrols that frigates used to do.The total displacement of the Royal Navy is approximately 337,000 tonnes (603,000 tonnes including the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Marines).
The Royal Navy is part of Her Majesty’s Naval Service, which also includes the Royal Marines. The professional head of the Naval Service is the First Sea Lord, an admiral and member of the Defence Council of the United Kingdom. The Defence Council delegates management of the Naval Service to the Admiralty Board, chaired by the Secretary of State for Defence. The Royal Navy operates three bases in the United Kingdom where commissioned ships are based; Portsmouth, Clyde and Devonport, Plymouth, the last being the largest operational naval base in Western Europe.
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