Naval ranks

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Modern militaries all use similar schema of military ranks.[1] Modern navies use naval ranks that are of comparable seniority to the ranks used by armies and air forces.

The most senior naval ranks, collectively called "flag ranks", include Fleet Admiral or Admiral of the Fleet, Admirals Vice Admirals, Rear Admirals and Commodores, have comparable seniority to Generals in the Army or Air Force. These ranks may have command of fleets, squadrons or task forces composed of multiple vessels.

The other commissioned ranks in modern navies include Captain, Commander, Lieutenant Commander and Lieutenant. These are roughly comparable seniority to the army ranks Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel, Major, Captain and Lieutenant.

Depending on the country, commissioned officers generally have training at the University level.


Most countries distinguish officers qualified for ship command from those who are technical specialists. In the Royal Navy, the command track has been the "seaman" branch. The United States Navy calls this "line".

Comparative ranks

Rank NATO designation [2] U.S. designation Other names Usual army/air equivalent Notes
Fleet admiral or Admiral of the Fleet OF-10 O-11 Field Marshal or General of the Army Rarely used, and usually wartime only
Admiral OF-9 O-10 General, Colonel General
Vice admiral OF-8 O-9 Lieutenant general, General of branch, Air Marshal
Rear admiral OF-7 O-8 Rear Admiral of the Upper Half Major general, lieutenant general*, Air Vice Marshal
Commodore** Rear Admiral of the Lower Half OF-6 O-7 Brigadier, Brigadier General, Air Commodore Very complex usages; not present in all navies
Captain (naval) OF-5 O-6 Ship Captain, Captain 1st Rank Colonel
Commander OF-4 O-5 Frigate Captain, Fregattenkaptain, Captain 2nd Rank Lieutenant colonel, Wing Commander
Lieutenant commander OF-3 or OF-4 O-4 Capitaine de corvette, Corvette Captain, Korvettenkkaptain, Captain 3rd Rank Major
Lieutenant (naval forces) OF-3 O-3 Kapitanleutnant Captain (land forces)
Lieutenant junior grade OF-1 O-2 Leutnant zur see, First lieutenant, senior lieutenant
Ensign (naval forces) OF-1 O-1 Sous-lieutenant, Onderluitenant Second lieutenant

Warrant officers

Warrant officer structures vary among nations, but, in general, they are technical specialists who have limited or no command functions.

Non-commissioned officers

Modern navies also employ various non-commissioned officers, petty officers-- individuals who may be very skilled and experienced, but have different functions. A petty officer is responsible for the training and preparation of individuals in units, or in carrying out increasingly complex functions.

In most navies, petty officers have both a rank and a rating. The rank shows their level of authority, while the rating identifies their specialization.


Seamen are the most junior enlisted personnel in many modern navies, roughly equivalent to a private in modern armies.