Henry VII ordered the first Naval dockyard to be built at Portsmouth. His son, Henry VIII founded a fleet of sail-driven battleships, with heavy guns along their sides below deck. The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century completely changed the fighting ship. The changes to sea warfare became a revolution with the construction of HMS Dreadnought in 1905. Every other battleship in the world was made obsolete. The Royal Navy was at the forefront of submarine developement even though many had initially considered them to be 'a damned un-English invention'.During World War II, the U. S. Navy replaced the Royal Navy as the world's strongest. The Royal Navy, despite its reduced size, has remained at the forefront of new developments. Nuclear propulsion today provides greatly enhanced speed and endurance for submarines, which are no longer handicapped by the need to surface to recharge electric batteries. Guided missiles have replaced guns as the warship's primary weapon.
At the apex of the Royal Navy's role is the United Kingdom's strategic deterrent, consisting of the latest Vanguard class nuclear-powered submarines carrying Trident ballistic missiles that can be fired from beneath the sea.