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 U.S. Navy calls this "line".
|Rank||NATO designation ||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 officer structures vary among nations, but, in general, they are technical specialists who have limited or no command functions.
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.
- Raymond Oliver. Why is the Colonel called "kernal"? The origin of the ranks and rank insignia now used by the United States armed forces, McClellan Aviation Museum. Retrieved on 2011-04-22. mirror
- NATO codes for grades of military personnel: Agreed English texts, 1992, NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 2116