What country had the largest navy in history

May 2011
13,738
Navan, Ireland
#2
Numberwise, which faction possessed the largest navy? (In any period of time)
Do you want just numbers or power?

For instance at the end of WWII the RCN was big as concerned the number of vessels but they were mainly small (if vital) anti-submarine warfare vessels.

I would say one of the largest and most powerful fleets ,not to mention successful , has to be the RN of the revolutionary and Napoleonic period.
 
Likes: sparticulous
Feb 2015
289
Netherlands
#5
Numberwise, which faction possessed the largest navy? (In any period of time)
Depends on the time frame you're talking about.

In antiquity a large navy counted in the hundreds. if I'm not mistaken Carthage had the biggest navy in the Mediterranean in the Hellenistic period and the harbour at Carthage was dimensioned for +/- 350 ships.

The Persians and the Chinese had navies in the same period of time with similar numbers (300-600) if I'm not mistaken. This situation persisted in to the middle ages.

In modern times the British fleet in the 18th and 19th century were numerically rather large. There were 1000's of ships but many (most?) were merchant vessels.

Modern navies are small but deadly. The current British fleet has 77 ships and the Americans have fewer ships than the Carthaginians did but obviously any one of them could have defeated the entire combined navy of the world 200 years ago.
 
Feb 2015
289
Netherlands
#9
There is a calculation that the early Ptolemaic Kingdom had ~4,000 ships in total.
Can you link that? Their army only counted about 25,000 so 4000 ships would have made their navy bigger than their army. I have my doubts.

In the same period of time Carthage rules the Med with 300-400 ships and 5 min of Googling doesn't show up a reference to the Ptolemaic fleeting deploying in a battle with more than about 200.

Curious where you read that.
 
May 2015
12
Israel
#10
Can you link that? Their army only counted about 25,000 so 4000 ships would have made their navy bigger than their army. I have my doubts.

In the same period of time Carthage rules the Med with 300-400 ships and 5 min of Googling doesn't show up a reference to the Ptolemaic fleeting deploying in a battle with more than about 200.

Curious where you read that.
Grainger. Just note that the estimation is for all ships at Egypt's disposal, and only about a tenth (~400) are warships.

https://books.google.co.il/books?id...epage&q=grainger ptolemaic 4000 ships&f=false

And

https://books.google.co.il/books?id...q=grainger ptolemaic egypt 4000 ships&f=false