The first empire to have a naval fleet is most likely the Greeks. The Phoenicians (which is now modern day Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and parts of Israel) traded with Greeks. They trade woods and dye. The phoenicians were instrumental to the building of Greek fleets, there were the ship builders.
Up until this day, the Greek Merchant Navy controlled the world's largest merchant fleet, in terms of tonnage with a total DWT of 334,649,089 tons and a fleet of 5,226 Greek-owned vessels.
The earliest empires to have a naval force are assumed to be the Greeks, using Phoenician shipbuilders, and they were ramming enemy ships back in seventh century BCE. The Achaemenid Empire, Persia, began amassing a naval force in the 5th century BC. Their first ships were also built by Phoenicians and were 40 meters in length and 6 meters in width, carrying 300 soldiers.
Chola Dynasty, India, was one of the greatest naval powers from 300 BC to 1279 AD. The Romans were land-based by nature and their sea battles, such as the Punic Wars, owed much to their servants. The Ancient Egyptians had efficient lengthy boats for centuries but these were predominantly used for transporting goods up the Nile.
Mike John, Content Explorer, MCA, Los Angeles, California, USA
Answered Jun 18, 2018
“The first dateable recorded sea battle occurred about 1210 BC: Suppiluliuma II, king of the Hittites, defeated a fleet from Cyprus, and burned their ships at sea.” Since this is the first recorded sea battle, I assume the first naval fleet belonged to Suppiluliuma II, king of the Hittite Empire.