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, ranking seventh in combined fleet tonnage and fifth in number of naval vessels. The French Navy is one of eight currently operating fixed-wing aircraft carriers, 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.
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; as of 2014, its reserve element numbered roughly 48,000.
Founded in the 17th century, with precursors dating back to the Middle Ages, the French Navy is one of the oldest navies still in continual service. It has taken part in key events in French history, and played a critical role in establishing and securing the French colonial empire for over 400 years.
As a blue-water navy, it operates a wide range of fighting vessels, including various aeronaval forces, attack and ballistic missile submarines, frigates, patrol boats and support ships, with the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle serving as the centerpiece of most expeditionary forces.