The Royal Lao Navy (French: Marine royale laotienne – MRL) was the naval component of the Royal Lao Armed Forces (FAR), the official military of the Royal Lao Government and the Kingdom of Laos during the Laotian Civil War between 1955 and 1975.
The Laotian Navy (French: Marine Laotiènne) was first formed in January 28, 1955 as the «naval» wing of the Laotian National Army (ANL) and designated the River Flotilla (French: Escadrille Fluviale). A predominantly riverine force since Laos is a land-locked country, the ANL River Flotilla was allegedly provided at the time with a small number of ex-French Navy STCAN armoured river patrol crafts (a.k.a. «stay-can») and FOM escort crafts, which had seen service during the First Indochina War. The new Laotian Navy was originally trained and staffed by French Officers and senior Petty Officers seconded from the naval forces component of the French Far East Expeditionary Corps (CEFEO), although a small number of selected Laotian naval officer candidate students (French: Eléves Officiers de Marine – EOMs) were also sent to France, in order to attend advanced Officer and Petty Officer courses at the French Naval Academy in Brest.
In July 1959 the ANL River Flotilla was re-designated Laotian Navy and became an independent branch, now part of the newly created Laotian Armed Forces (French: Forces Armées Laotiènnes – FAL), renamed Royal Lao Armed Forces (French: Forces Armées du Royaume – FAR) in September 1961.
Like the ANL, the fledging Laotian Navy soon found itself involved in the political turmoil that engulfed the Kingdom of Laos in the early 1960s. During Major-General Phoumi Nosavan November 1960 counter-coup against Captain Kong Le's rebel Neutralist airborne units, four pro-Neutralist Laotian Navy river gunboats blocked the Mekong River at Ban Sot in an effort to halt the advance northwards from Savannakhet of Maj. Gen. Nosavan's rebel troops towards Vientiane. Other Laotian Naval units however, supported the coup by transporting up the Mekong in landing crafts from Savannakhet Lieutenant-Colonel Siho Lamphouthacoul and his Directorate of National Coordination (DNC) elite para-commando regiment, the 1st Special Mobile Group (French: Groupement Mobile Speciale 1 – GMS 1), on 21 November to join the Battle of Vientiane.