Published on September 12th, 2019 | by Sam Rose
Set Sail with Royal Navy Ships Special Stamps
September’s second special stamps issue is Royal Mail’s fitting tribute to the Royal Navy in the form of a brand-new set of Royal Navy Ships Special Stamps!
Following on from the surprise announcement of an issue of special stamps paying tribute to one of Britain’s greatest music institutions in Sir Elton John, the second issue taking place this month in the Special Stamps Calendar for 2019 is a homage to one of Britain’s greatest naval institutions, the Royal Navy.
Established as one of Britain’s oldest armed forces, the Navy has become known as the ‘senior service’ since its introduction in 1546.
As an island nation, a prowess in ship design innovation and navigation has become instrumental in Britain’s history and much of this can be owed to the illustrious Royal Navy Ships that have gone on to serve our country for thousands of years.
The Royal Navy has a fascinating and decorated history which is fully represented in the exciting Royal Navy Ships Special Stamps issue which features ships such as the Mary Rose which was launched in 1511 and the most recently commissioned ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was launched in 2014.
Read on for a brief account of how the Royal Navy became the strong naval power it is today and to learn more details on each of the prestigious ships included in this wonderous release.
The Royal Navy – a True British Naval Power
We can trace the rise of British naval power all the way back to the Tudor monarchs.
It was in 1509 that the newly crowned King Henry VIII ordered a full rearmament of the British fleet and it was within this era that ships weighing as much as 600 tonnes and more were built such as the Mary Rose.
The 17th century saw King Charles undertaking the very next major programme of warship building, with his fund-raising contributing to the eventual outbreak of the Civil War.
At this point, the Navy expanded further to become one of the most powerful in the world.
The Royal Navy wouldn’t be given its full and correct title until the crowning of King Charles II, from which it was then established as an independent national entity.
By the end of the 18th century, the French Revolutionary War (followed by the Napoleonic War) challenged the Royal Navy service as it was forced to face the combined forces of the French, Spanish and Dutch ship fleets within locations as far away as the Caribbean.
But a series of victories which went on to culminate at Trafalgar in 1805 lead to the UK Navy cementing itself as the most dominant power in the world.
Shifting ahead to events after the Second World War and the eventual decline of the British Empire, the size and capability of the Navy was reduced and ships that were in the best condition were refitted.
One of the most important operations by the Royal Navy following the Second World War was the Falklands Islands War in 1982, which provided a reprieve in the proposed cutbacks for the service and provided a real need for the Royal Navy to regain an expeditionary capability.
Following this, the Royal Navy and its fleet of ships have taken part in the Gulf War, the Kosovo conflict, the Afghanistan Campaign and the Iraq War in 2003.
A Closer Look at the Royal Navy Ships Special Stamps Collection
1st Class – Mary Rose
Launched in 1511, the Mary Rose famously took part in the Battle of the Solent against one of the largest known enemy fleets in English naval history.
It was during this battle on the 19th of July in 1545 that the ship unfortunately sank, with hundreds of sailors drowning and only around 34 of the crew were able to survive.
Not much is known as to why the ship sank but an eyewitness account recalls that the Mary Rose had fired its guns on one side of the ship and was in the process of turning around before suddenly sinking.
1st Class – HMS Queen Elizabeth
One of two new Queen Elizabeth-Class aircraft carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth was launched in 2014 and is the largest and most powerful warship to have been built for the Royal Navy.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth can carry up to 40 aircraft and its flight deck spans an area of four acres.
£1.35 – HMS Victory
Launched on the 7th of May in 1765, HMS Victory had what can be considered to be an unusually long service as a Royal Navy ship.
Leading fleets in the American War of Independence, the French Revolutionary War and the Napoleonic War, it was in the latter of these events that the ship gained ever-lasting fame as the flagship of Vice-Admiral Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar.
HMS Victory is now located at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and as Flagship of the First Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command, has become the oldest commissioned warship in the world today.
£1.35 – HMS Dreadnought
Introduced on the 10th of February in 1906, HMS Dreadnought’s revolutionary ‘big gun’ design rendered all other warships obsolete and dominated much of the First World War era.
Due to being powered by Parsons Turbines, the ship was two and a half knots faster than other rivals’ ships and carried twice the amount of firepower of earlier battleships.
During the start of the First World War, HMS Dreadnought was dispatched to Scapa Flow as flagship of the Fourth Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet and in March 1915, became the only battleship to sink a submarine in the First World War conflict.
£1.55 – HMS Warrior
The first ocean-going iron-hulled warship, HMS Warrior was launched out on the 29th of December in 1860 and quickly became the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet.
Powered by steam and by sail, it became the biggest, fastest and most powerful warship of those that existed at that time and proved to the ultimate in deterrents.
After being painstakingly restored to its close to original form, HMS Warrior returned to its home in Portsmouth in 1987 where it has served as a museum ship ever since.
£1.55 – Sovereign of the Seas
Sovereign of the Seas was first commissioned by Charles I in 1634, before being later launched in 1637.
It was regarded by many at the time as the largest ship in the world and popularly known as the Golden Devil due to its heavy armament and gold decoration.
Most memorably, the Sovereign of the Seas was responsible for sinking a Dutch warship with a single broadside in 1652 and was renamed as Sovereign and Royal Sovereign before being destroyed in an accidental fire at Chatham dockyard.
£1.60 – HMS King George V
HMS King George V was launched by King George VI on the 21st of February 1939, before being commissioned into the Royal Navy’s fleet on the 1st of October 1940.
The ship was originally going to be named after the monarch, but King George VI requested that it would bear the name King George V instead in order to honor his late father.
It was assigned to the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow, which remained as its principle base until 1944.
As flagship of the Home Fleet, HMS King George V took part in several North Atlantic operations whilst protecting the Arctic convoys and acting as a deterrent against the threat of five German capital ships – Bismarck, Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Prinz Eugen and Tirpitz.
In 1941, the ship led the fleet in the attack and sinking of the Bismarck in the North Atlantic and was also involved in the invasion of Sicily, whilst later being redeployed to the new British Pacific Fleet as its flagship.
£1.60 – HMS Beagle
Unveiled at Woolwich Dockyard in London on the 11th of May in 1820, HMS Beagle is famed for taking renowned naturalist Charles Darwin on his very first expedition around the world during 1831 and 1836.
The five-year trip that Darwin embarked on with HMS Beagle was fully documented in his travel memoir ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’
HMS Beagle was initially equipped with a 10-gun brig sloop but was later refitted and assigned as a surveying vessel due to there being no immediate requirements to use it as a warship.
Travel the Seas with the Royal Navy Ships Presentation Pack and Other Collectibles
Each of these thrilling stamp designs can be found inside the Royal Navy Ships Presentation Pack – a fully illustrated and illustrious package containing all eight Royal Navy Ships stamps and a plethora of breathtaking photographs and illustrations.
Detailing a brief history of the Royal Navy, this esteemed presentational pack also features captivating design elements such as the Admiralty Chart of Portsmouth Harbour, a chart with a strong association and relevance with the Royal Navy due to the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior being located there.
Other collectibles included as part of the Royal Navy Ships Special Stamps issue are:
• A Stamp Card Pack containing the eight featured designs of Royal Navy Ships in full-framed detail.
• A Framed Stamp Set featuring all eight Royal Navy Ships Special Stamps individually mounted together with a Certificate of Authenticity which also incorporates a M.O.D hologram.