Elizabeth’s Navy – Seventy Years of the Postwar Royal Navy, Paul Brown


Elizabeth’s Navy – Seventy Years of the Postwar Royal Navy, Paul Brown

This book traces the evolution of the Royal Navy during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II, a period that began with the huge post-war Navy of 1952 and ended with the tiny but technologically advanced Navy of today

Each chapter falls into two halves. The first starts with a summary of the state of the Navy at the start of the decade (or 1952), then looks at how the Navy changed over that decade – old ships being decommissioned, new ships being built, budget changes (generally cuts) and what combat the Navy saw (thankfully not all that much it has to be said – the only significant naval wars were Korea right at the start of the period and the Falklands). The second half is made up of photographs of representative ships from that period, with captions describing them and often their fate.

One interesting thing that emerges from this book is that the Navy can both suffering from cutbacks to the Fleet and building expensive new warships at the same time. The Navy has been shrinking in size for almost all of this period, but at the same time investing heavily in very expensive nuclear submarines, in particular those carrying the nuclear deterrent, and in recent years the new aircraft carriers Queen Elizabeth and Princes of Wales. In recent years the cost and complexity of major warships has increased, with Queen Elizabeth costing £3 billion!

This book makes one realise just how much the Royal Navy has shrunk in this period. Much of this was inevitable – in 1952 a large part of the massive Second World War fleet still existed, although with many of the larger ships in the reserve. Over the next two decades the British Empire went. . The withdrawal of British troops from ‘East of Suez’ in 1971 saw the Singapore Naval Base handed over to the government of Singapore, leaving Hong Kong as the last permanent British base in the Far East. With the Empire went the need for a fleet capable of operating on that Imperial scale. A second round of cuts followed the end of the Cold War and the end of the Soviet naval threat, and since then various economic shocks have seen further cuts. Even so the tiny size of the modern Royal Navy does come as something of a shock!

This is an impressive pictorial history of Queen Elizabeth’s Navy, supported by good accounts of how the fleet changed over time. 

1 – The Big Navy: 1952-1959
2 – Rebuilding the Navy: 1960-1969
3 – Eastern Atlantic Focus: 1970-1979
4 – The Falklands Decade: 1980-1999
5 – Peace and War: 1990-1999
6 – Millennium Retrenchment: 2000-2009
7 – Broadening Horizons: 2010-2022

Author: Paul Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 344
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2023

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy