Ranks in the French Navy

The rank insignia of the French Navy (French: Marine Nationale) are worn on shoulder straps of shirts and white jackets, and on sleeves for navy jackets and mantels. Until 2005, only commissioned officers had an anchor on their insignia, but enlisted personnel are now receiving them as well. Although the names of the ranks for superior officers contain the word "Capitaine" (Capitaine de corvette, Capitaine de frégate and Capitaine de vaisseau), the appropriate style to address them is "Commandant", "Capitaine" referring to "lieutenant de vaisseau", which is translated as lieutenant. The two highest ranks, Vice-amiral d'escadre and Amiral (Admiral), are functions, rather than ranks. They are assumed by officers ranking Vice-Amiral (Vice-Admiral).

The rank of Vice-Admiral of France (French: Vice-Amiral) was formerly designated as Lieutenant-General of the Naval Armies until 1791, such as in the Levant Fleet and Flotte du Ponant of the Ancien Régime. Major of the French Navy has a similar history to that of the former Lieutenant-General of the Naval Armies.

The only Amiral de la Flotte (Admiral of the Fleet) was François Darlan after he was refused the dignity of Admiral of France. Equivalent to the dignity of Marshal of France, the rank of Admiral of France remains theoretical in the Fifth Republic; it was last granted in 1869, during the Second Empire, but retained during the Third Republic until the death of its bearer in 1873. The title of Amiral de la Flotte was created so that Darlan would not have an inferior rank to that of his counterpart in the British Royal Navy, who was an Admiral of the Fleet.

French Navy
(Marine Nationale)
Naval Ensign of France
Motto: Honneur, Patrie, Valeur, Discipline
("Honour, Homeland, Valour, Discipline")
Naval Ministers
Maritime Prefect
Naval Action Force
Submarine Forces
Naval Aviation
FORFUSCO (Marine Commandos, Naval Fusiliers)
Maritime Gendarmerie
Current fleet
Current deployments
Ranks in the French Navy
History of the French Navy
Future of the French Navy
Ensigns and pennants
Historic ships
Historic fleets
Cross of War
Military Medal
Legion of Honour


Great Officers

French Navy NG-OF10

Amiral de France
Admiral of France
(Grand Admiral)


Officiers généraux — Flag officers

French Navy-Rama NG-OF6

(Rear Admiral)

French Navy-Rama NG-OF7

(Vice Admiral) since 1791

French Navy-Rama NG-OF8

Vice-Amiral d'escadre
Squadron Vice-Admiral
(Lieutenant Admiral)

French Navy-Rama NG-OF9


Officiers supérieurs — Senior officers

French Navy-Rama NG-OF3

Capitaine de corvette
Corvette Captain
(Lieutenant Commander)

French Navy-Rama NG-OF4

Capitaine de frégate
Frigate Captain

French Navy-Rama NG-OF5

Capitaine de vaisseau
Ship-of-the-Line Captain

Officiers subalternes — Junior officers

French Navy NG-aspirant


French Navy-Rama NG-OF1

Enseigne de vaisseau de deuxième classe
Ship of the Line ensign second class
(Acting Sub-Lieutenant, Ensign)

French Navy-Rama NG-OF1b

Enseigne de vaisseau de première classe
Ship of the Line ensign first class
Lieutenant (junior grade))

French Navy-Rama NG-OF2

Lieutenant de vaisseau
Ship-of-the-Line Lieutenant

Petty officers and enlisted personnel

Officiers mariniers — Petty Officers

French Navy-Rama NG-SO1

Second master
OR5 Petty Officer 2nd Class

French Navy-Rama NG-SO2

OR6 Petty Officer 1st Class

French Navy-Rama NG-SO3

First master
OR7 Chief Petty Officer

French Navy-Rama NG-SO4

Principal master
OR9 Master Chief Petty Officer

French Navy-Rama NG-SO5

OR9 Master Chief Petty Officer

Matelots et quartiers-maîtres — Sailors and quarter-masters

French Navy-Rama NG-M0

OR1 Recruit

French Navy-Rama NG-M1

Matelot breveté
Graduate Seaman
OR2 Apprentice

French Navy-Rama NG-M2

Quartier-maître de 2e classe
Quarter-master second class
OR3 Seaman

French Navy-Rama NG-M3

Quartier-maître de 1re classe
Quarter-master first class
OR4 Petty Officer 3rd Class


Personnel with a particular attribution may wear distinctive features on their rank insignia. For instance, medical officers bear two red stripes on their insignia. Similarly, the Ingénieur des études et techniques de travaux maritimes wear pearl-grey stripes.

Peintres de la Marine, who are not employed by the navy but have a special status, wear a uniform and officer straps with rank insignia replaced with the words "Peintre officiel".

French Navy-Rama NG-OF5


French Navy-Rama NG-OF5-toubib


French Navy-Rama NG-supply-OF5

Supply officer

Ranks formerly used in the Navy

  • Vice-amiral de France (Vice Admiral of France)
  • Lieutenant général des armées navales
  • Chef d'escadre
  • Chef de division
  • Major de vaisseau
  • Capitaine de vaisseau et de port
  • Lieutenant de vaisseau et de port
  • Capitaine de brûlot
  • Lieutenant de frégate
  • Capitaine de flûte
  • Sous-lieutenant de vaisseau
  • Sous-lieutenant de port
  • Élèves de la Marine
  • Garde de la marine
  • Maître amiral
  • Maître vice-amiral
  • Contre maître
  • Aide pilote
  • Second maître appelés
  • Second maître de 1re classe
  • Second maître de 2e classe
  • Quartier-maitre-chef de carrière

See also


The Fusiliers Marins and Commandos Marine units are under command of the Force maritime des fusiliers marins et commandos (FORFUSCO) in Lorient. It is headed by a general officer with the title of Admiral commandant Les fusiliers marins et commandos (ALFUSCO).

This force carries out:

Advanced force and reconnaissance operations from the sea

Special operations

Protection of key sites and vessels of the French Navy

Provision of security for elements of the naval forces.A 2,700-man strong force, the FORFUSCO is the fourth organic force of the French Navy.

French Navy

The French Navy (French: Marine Nationale, lit. National Navy), informally "La Royale", is the maritime arm of the French Armed Forces. Dating back to 1624, the French Navy is one of the world's oldest naval forces. It has participated in conflicts around the globe and played a key part in establishing the French colonial empire.

The French Navy consists of six main branches and various services: the Force d'Action Navale, the Forces Sous-marines (FOST, ESNA), the Maritime Force of Naval Aeronautics, the Fusiliers Marins (including Commandos Marine), the Marins Pompiers, and the Maritime Gendarmerie.

As of June 2014, the French Navy employed a total of 36,776 personnel along with 2,800 civilians. Its reserve element consisted of 4,827 personnel of the Operational Reserve. As a blue-water navy, it operates a wide range of fighting vessels, which include the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, various aeronaval forces, attack submarines and ballistic missile submarines, frigates, patrol boats and support ships.

French ship Ambitieux

Three ships of the French Navy have borne the name Ambitieux ("ambitious"):

French ship Ambitieux (1691), a 96-gun ship of the line burnt at La Hougue in June 1692

French ship Ambitieux (1692), a 96-gun ship of the line

French brig Ambitieux (1834), a brig

French ship Aquitaine

Two ships of the French Navy have borne the name Aquitaine in honour of the region of Aquitaine:

Aquitaine (1915), an auxiliary ship converted from a civilian steamer during the First World War.

Aquitaine the lead ship of the FREMM multipurpose frigate class; commissioned on 23 November 2012.

French ship Cassard

Eleven ships of the French Navy have borne the name Cassard in honour of Jacques Cassard:

Cassard (1795–1806), a Téméraire-class ship of the line also known as Dix-Août

Cassard (1801–1802), a small craft

Cassard (1803–1815), a Téméraire-class ship of the line launched as Lion

Cassard (1832–1850), a 20-gun brig

Cassard (1846–1882), a steam corvette. She served as Napoléon III's imperial yacht Reine Hortense.

Cassard (1860–1879), a Monge-class aviso

Cassard (1866–1894), a Talisman-class aviso

Cassard (1898–1924), a D'Assas-class protected cruiser

Cassard (1933–1942), a Vauquelin-class destroyer

Cassard (D623), a T 47-class destroyer (1956–1976)

Cassard (D614), lead ship of the Cassard-class frigates, presently in active service

French ship Chevalier Paul

Three vessels of the French Navy have borne the name Chevalier Paul ("Knight Paul") in honour of Paul de Fortia, Chevalier Paul.

French destroyer Chevalier Paul (1932) (1934–1941), a Vauquelin-class destroyer

French destroyer Chevalier Paul (D626) (1956–1971), a T 47-class destroyer

French frigate Chevalier Paul (D621), a Horizon-class frigate

French ship Forbin

Six ships of the French Navy have been named Forbin in honour of the 17th century admiral Claude Forbin-Gardanne:

A first-class propeller aviso (1859–1884)

French cruiser Forbin, a second-class cruiser (1885–1921)

An auxiliary patrol boat of the Free French Forces (1944). Originally a cargo ship, she was captured by the British in Gibraltar and requisitioned. She was eventually scuttled in Arromanches to be used as an artificial harbour on the 9 June 1944, in the context of the Invasion of Normandy.

French destroyer Forbin (1928), a L'Adroit-class destroyer (1928–1952)

French destroyer Forbin (D635), a T 53-class destroyer, (1955–1992)

French frigate Forbin, a Horizon-class frigate commissioned in 2008

French ship Hercule

Nineteen ships of the French Navy have borne the name Hercule, in honour of the Roman hero Hercules:

Hercule (1657–1673), a 38-gun ship of the line

Soleil (1642–1672), a 36-gun ship of the line rename Hercule in 1671

Hercule (1673–1678), a 50-gun ship of the line

Hercule (1679–1704), a 30-gun ship of the line

Hercule (1705–1741), a 64-gun ship of the line

Hercule (1750–1760), a 66-gun ship of the line

Hercule (1779), a fluyt

Hercule (1779–1797), a 74-gun

Hercule (1798–1798), a bomb vessel

Hercule (1798), a Téméraire-class ship of the line

Hercule (1800), a brig

Hercule (1804–1815), a bomb vessel

Provence (1815–1883), an 80-gun ship of the line, was renamed Hercule in 1815

Hercule (1836–1860), a 100-gun ship of the line

Hercule (1893–1944), a tugboat

Hercule (1914–1918), an auxiliary minesweeper

Hercule (1939–1944), an auxiliary tugboat of the FNFL

Hercule (1945–1951), a tugboat

Hercule (1960–1993), a tugboat

French ship Jules Verne

Two ships of the French Navy have borne the name Jules Verne in honour of science-fiction writer Jules Verne:

Jules Verne (1931) (1931–1961), a submarine tender

Jules Verne (A620), a repair ship launched in 1970 as Achéron; scrapped in 2016

French ship La Combattante

Three ships of the French Navy have borne the name of La Combattante ("the Fighter", or "Fighting one"):

A galley which took part in the raid against Teignmouth in August 1690 and destroyed numerous English ships there

The FNFL destroyer La Combattante, a type III Hunt-class destroyer leased by the UK.

The patrol boat La Combattante (P730), decommissioned in September 1996.

French ship Montcalm

Four ships of the French Navy have been named Montcalm in honour of the 18th century Marshal Marquess Louis de Montcalm de Saint Véran:

French ironclad Montcalm, 1865–1891

French cruiser Montcalm (1900), 1900–1926

French cruiser Montcalm, 1933–1969, which served in the Free French Forces

French frigate Montcalm (D642), 1975, a Georges Leygues-class frigate

French ship Tourville

Several ships of the French Navy have been named in honour of Anne Hilarion de Tourville. Among them:

French ship Tourville (1788), a Téméraire-class 74-gun ship of the line (1790-1833)

San Gennaro, a Spanish 86-gun ship of the line ceded to France, bore the name Tourville from 1811 to 1816

French ship Tourville (1853), an 80-gun ship of the line (1853-1872)

A cruiser built around 1870 and struck 1901

An unbuilt Lyon-class battleship (1914)

French cruiser Tourville, a heavy cruiser (1928-1962)

French frigate Tourville (D 610), a F67 type frigate.

A Barracuda-class submarine is scheduled to bear the name

List of French Navy ship names

This is a list of traditional French Navy ship names, along with notices for notable units. Only name borne by several ships are listed (for instance, the Charles De Gaulle is an important present ship, but the name has been introduced in the recent past).

List of destroyers of France

The following is a list of destroyers of France. In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. The Fantasque was the fastest destroyer class ever built.

Maritime Prefect

The Préfet Maritime is a servant of the French State who exercises authority over the sea in one particular region (a Préfecture maritime). As a civil servant, he reports to the Prime Minister. But the Maritime Prefect is simultaneously charged of military operations, and for this reason also reports to the chief of the general staff (CEMA, or Chef d'état-major des armées).

The dignity was created in 1800 to unify the command of harbours (civil administrator) and the command of the Navy (Admiral).

The préfet maritime is in charge of the French sovereignty at sea, monitoring operation, safety of the users, police and rescue operations, etc. He also commands all armed vessel linked to his place.

As of 2019, Préfets maritimes are:

Mediterranean Sea (Toulon): Vice-amiral d’escadre Charles-Henri du Ché

English Channel and North Sea (Cherbourg): Vice-amiral Philippe Dutrieux

Atlantic (Château de Brest, Brest): Vice-amiral d’escadre Jean-Louis LOZIER

Ranks in the French Army

See Ranks in the French Navy for more details about the naval ranks

Rank insignia in the French Army are worn on the sleeve or on shoulder marks of uniforms, and range up to the highest rank of Marshal of France, a state honour denoted with a seven-star insignia that was last conferred posthumously on Marie Pierre Koenig in 1984.

Strategic Oceanic Force

The Strategic Ocean Force (French: Force océanique stratégique, FOST) has been the synonym of the French Submarine Forces since 1999, which the commandant commands the ensemble related to, along with the squadron of nuclear attack submarine (French: Escadrille des Sous-Marins Nucléaires d'Attaque, ESNA).

The Commandment of ALFOST commenced in 1972.

Vice admiral

Vice admiral is a senior naval flag officer rank, equivalent to lieutenant general and air marshal. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral. In many navies, vice admiral is a three-star rank with a NATO code of OF-8, although in some navies like the French Navy it is an OF-7 rank, the OF-8 code corresponding to the four-star rank of squadron vice-admiral.

Military ranks and insignia by country
Post-Soviet states
Commonwealth of Nations


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.