French Navy

The French Navy (French: Marine nationale, lit.'National Navy'), informally La Royale, is the maritime arm of the French Armed Forces and one of the five military service branches of France. It is among the largest and most powerful naval forces in the world,[4] ranking seventh in combined fleet tonnage and fifth in number of naval vessels.[5] The French Navy is one of eight naval forces currently operating fixed-wing aircraft carriers,[Note 1] with its flagship Charles de Gaulle being the only nuclear-powered aircraft carrier outside the United States Navy, and the only non-American vessel to use catapults to launch aircraft.[6]

French Navy
Marine nationale
Logo of the French Navy since 1990
Country France
RoleNaval warfare
Size37,000 personnel (2021)[1] and 7,000 civilians (2021)
180 ships[2]
178 aircraft[3]
Garrison/HQMain: Brest, Île Longue, Toulon
Secondary: Cherbourg, Lorient
French overseas territories: Fort de France, Degrad des Cannes, Port des Galets, Dzaoudzi, Nouméa, Papeete
Overseas: Dakar, Djibouti, Abu Dhabi
Nickname(s)La Royale
Motto(s)Honneur, patrie, valeur, discipline
("Honour, homeland, valour, discipline")
ColoursBlue, white, red
ShipsCurrent fleet
Chief of the Armed ForcesPresident Emmanuel Macron
Chef d'État-Major de la Marine, CEMMAmiral Pierre Vandier
Major Général de la MarineVice-amiral d'escadre Stanislas Gourlez de la Motte
InsigniaRanks in the French Navy
Naval ensign
Aircraft flown
AttackRafale M
FighterRafale M
HelicopterNH90, Eurocopter Lynx, Panther, Dauphin
Utility helicopterAlouette III
PatrolAtlantique 2, Falcon 50, Falcon 200
TrainerMudry CAP 10, MS-88 Rallye, Falcon 10, Xingu

Founded in the 17th century, the French Navy is one of the oldest navies still in continual service, with precursors dating back to the Middle Ages. It has taken part in key events in French history, including the Napoleonic Wars and both world wars, and played a critical role in establishing and securing the French colonial empire for over 400 years. The French Navy pioneered several innovations in naval technology, including the first steam-powered ship of the line, first seagoing ironclad warship, first mechanically propelled submarine, first steel-hulled warship, and first armoured cruiser.

The French Navy consists of six main components: the Naval Action Force, the Submarine Forces (FOST and ESNA), French Naval Aviation, the Navy Riflemen (including Naval Commandos), the Marseille Naval Fire Battalion, and the Maritime Gendarmerie. As of 2021, the French Navy employed 44,000 personnel (37,000 military and 7,000 civilian), more than 180 ships, 200 aircraft, and six commandos units;[7] as of 2014, its reserve element numbered roughly 48,000.[8]

As a blue-water navy, the French Navy is capable of operating globally and conducting expeditionary missions, maintaining a significant overseas presence.[5] It operates a wide range of fighting vessels, including various aeronaval forces, attack and ballistic missile submarines, frigates, patrol boats and support ships, with aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle serving as the centerpiece of most expeditionary forces.

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