Ship-of-the-line captain

Captain (French: capitaine de vaisseau; German: linienschiffskapitän (Austro-Hungarian Navy), Kapitän zur See (German and the Royal Netherlands navies); Italian Navy: capitano di vascello; Spanish Navy: capitán de navío; Croatian Navy: kapetan bojnog broda) is a rank that appears in several navies. The name of the rank derives from the fact the rank corresponded to command of a warship of the largest class, the ship-of-the-line, as opposed to smaller types (corvettes and frigates). It is normally above the rank of frigate captain.

Captain is equivalent to the naval rank of captain in most of the Commonwealth navies and captain in the United States Navy, and to the rank of captain at sea used in Germany and the Netherlands. Captain is rank OF-5 in the NATO rank codes, and equates to the land-forces rank of full colonel.

Austro-Hungarian Empire

Linienschiffskapitän was an officer rank in the Austro-Hungarian Navy, equivalent to oberst in the land forces or kapitän zur see in the Kaiserliche Marine. It is still partly used by the navies of the Empire's successor states, such as Yugoslavia and Croatia.

In order, the other officer ranks below ship-of-the-line captain were


In the Belgian Navy the rank of capitaine de vaisseau or kapitein-ter-zee is the third grade of superior officer, equivalent to colonel in the land forces. Its insignia is made up of four bands. He or she commands a capital ship (cruiser, battleship or aircraft carrier) or a shore establishment. Smaller vessels such as destroyers and frigates are commanded by a kapitein-luitenant.


In the Canadian Armed Forces, Captain (N) (French: capitaine de vaisseau, capv) is a rank for officers who wear navy uniform, equal to colonel for officers who wear army or air force uniform. Like colonel, captain (N) is the highest rank of senior officer. A captain (N) is senior to a commander or a lieutenant-colonel, and junior to a commodore or brigadier-general.

Typical appointments for captains (N) include:

The rank insignia for a captain (N) is four 12-inch (1.3 cm) stripes, worn on the cuffs of the service dress jacket, and on slip-ons on other uniforms. On the visor of the service cap is one row of gold oak leaves along the edge. Captains (N) wear the officers' pattern branch cap badge.

The "(N)" is a part of the rank descriptor, and is used in official publications and documents to distinguish a captain (N) from a captain in the army or air force. It is also important to distinguish between the rank of captain (N) and the appointment of captain, meaning the commanding officer of a ship, regardless of his or her rank.

A captain (N) is addressed initially as "Captain Bloggins", thereafter by superiors and peers as "Captain" and by subordinates as "Sir" or "Ma'am". The "(N)" is not part of the spoken address.

Note: Before Unification of the Canadian Forces in 1968, rank structure and insignia followed the British pattern.


Dress uniform tunic


Uniform shirts


Shoulder boards for short-sleeve shirt and tropical white tunic

Navy olive Capt(N)

CADPAT uniform (-2010)


Number 2 mess uniform


Number 2A summer mess white uniform shoulder boards

Navy shoulder board Capt(N)

Shoulder boards for the Number 2C shipboard mess uniform (1968-2010).

CDN-Navy-Capt (pre2010)

Sleeve number 2D Canadian Forces mess standard for members that have joined the CF before 1987 (1968-2010).


Capitaine de vaisseau is a rank in the French Navy, corresponding to that of colonel in the French Army. They usually command the navy's most important ships.

He has five stripes and is addressed as "commandant". In naval slang, he is also known as a "cap' de veau".


Insignia in the French Navy


The rank of Captain (Italian: capitano di vascello, lit. "naval vessel captain") also exists in the Italian Navy. He is addressed as "comandante".


Insignia in the Italian Navy

See also


Captain is a title for the commander of a military unit, the commander of a ship, airplane, spacecraft, or other vessel, or the commander of a port, fire department or police department, election precinct, etc. Captain is a military rank in armies, navies, coast guards, etc., typically at the level of an officer commanding a company of infantry, a ship, or a battery of artillery, or similar distinct unit. The terms also may be used as an informal or honorary title for persons in similar commanding roles.

The term "captain" derives from katepánō (Greek: κατεπάνω, lit. "[the one] placed at the top", or "the topmost") which was used as title for a senior Byzantine military rank and office. The word was Latinized as capetanus/catepan, and its meaning seems to have merged with that of the late Latin "capitaneus" (which derives from the classical Latin word "caput", meaning head). This hybridized term gave rise to the English language term captain and its equivalents in other languages (Capitan, Capitaine, Capitano, Capitão, Kapitan, Kapitän, Kapitein, Kapteeni, Kapten, kapitány, Kapudan Pasha, Kobtan, etc.).

Captain (naval)

Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The rank is equal to the army rank of colonel.

Equivalent ranks worldwide include "ship-of-the-line captain" (e.g. France, Argentina, Spain), "captain of sea and war" (e.g. Portugal), "captain at sea" (e.g. Germany, Netherlands) and "captain of the first rank" (Russia).

The NATO rank code is OF-5, although the United States of America uses the code O-6 for the equivalent rank (as they do for all OF-5 ranks).

Captain at sea

Captain at sea is a naval rank corresponding to command of a ship-of-the-line or capital ship.

The equivalent in other navies is ship-of-the-line captain or the naval rank of captain in the Commonwealth of Nations and the U.S. Navy.

Captain of sea and war

Captain of sea and war (Portuguese: capitão de mar e guerra) is a rank in a small number of Portuguese-speaking navies, notably those of Portugal and Brazil, which corresponds to the rank of ship-of-the-line captain, or the US and Commonwealth rank of full captain.

The term captain of sea and war, like the modern rank of ship-of-the-line captain in the navies of France, Italy, and Spain, has deep historic roots. Although the rank was first formally established in the 17th century, the expression had been sometimes been used in the Portuguese and Spanish (as Capitán de Mar y Guerra) armadas of the 16th century. But generally, in the 16th and early 17th centuries, the captain of a Portuguese man-of-war was simply called a capitão, while the commander of a fleet was termed capitão-mor, literally "captain-major".

During the 16th century, the term almirante was used in Portugal to designate the second in command of a fleet. Only during the 18th century would it come to designate the fleet commander - an admiral in the more modern sense. But during the latter half of the 17th century, the term "captain of sea and war" came to designate the commander of a larger man-of-war - the ship of the line that began evolving at that time. When that happened, the Portuguese Navy, as other navies, came to use the term capitão de fragata and capitão-tenente, literally "frigate captain" and "captain-lieutenant", to designate the commanders of smaller warships. When Brazil gained her independence from Portugal in 1822, its navy adopted the Portuguese rank denominations, which both countries still use.

Today, the rank of captain of sea and war exists in the navies of Portugal, Brazil, Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau.


Colonel ( "kernel", abbreviated Col., Col or COL) is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations.

Historically, in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a colonel was typically in charge of a regiment in an army. Modern usage varies greatly, and in some cases the term is used as an honorific title that may have no direct relationship to military service.

The rank of colonel is typically above the rank of lieutenant colonel. The rank above colonel is typically called brigadier, brigade general or brigadier general.

Equivalent naval ranks may be called captain or ship-of-the-line captain. In the Commonwealth air force rank system, the equivalent rank is group captain.

Counter admiral

Counter admiral is a rank found in many navies of the world, but no longer used in English-speaking countries, where the equivalent rank is rear admiral. The term derives from the French contre-amiral.In modern navies that use it, rear (counter) admiral is generally, although not always, the lowest flag officer rank (in the German Navy, for instance, Flottillenadmiral ranks below Konteradmiral; in the Royal Canadian Navy, contre-amiral/rear admiral ranks above commodore).

Croatian Navy

The Croatian Navy (Croatian: Hrvatska ratna mornarica or HRM) is a branch of the Croatian Armed Forces. It was formed in 1991 from what Croatian forces managed to capture from the Yugoslav Navy during the Breakup of Yugoslavia and Croatian War of Independence. In addition to mobile coastal missile launchers, today it operates 29 vessels, divided into the Navy Flotilla for traditional naval duties, and the Croatian Coast Guard. Five missile boats form Croatian fleet's main offensive capability.

Croatian military ranks

The Croatian military ranks are the military insignia used by the Republic of Croatia Armed Forces.

Flag captain

In the Royal Navy, a flag captain was the captain of an admiral's flagship. During the 18th and 19th centuries, this ship might also have a "captain of the fleet", who would be ranked between the admiral and the "flag captain" as the ship's "First Captain", with the "flag captain" as the ship's "Second Captain".

Unlike a "captain of the fleet", a flag-captain was generally a fairly junior post-captain, as he had the admiral to keep an eye on him, but – like a "captain of the fleet" – a "flag captain" was a post rather than a rank.

Flotilla admiral

Flotilla admiral is the lowest flag rank, a rank above captain, in the modern navies of Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Germany and Sweden. It corresponds to the ranks of commodore or rear admiral (lower half) in the navies of the United States, United Kingdom, and certain other countries.

Insignias of flotilla admirals

Frigate lieutenant

Frigate lieutenant is a rank in some navies, especially those of Spain (Spanish: Alférez de Navío) and Latin America, roughly equivalent to a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy or a lieutenant (junior grade) in the US Navy. The French Navy equivalent is a ship-of-the-line ensign (first class) (French: enseigne de vaisseau de première classe).

The NATO rank code is OF-1 (senior)

Galvarino Riveros Cárdenas

José Galvarino Riveros Cárdenas was a Chilean marine, Commander of the Chilean Squadron during the War of the Pacific. He was born in Valdivia, Chile on December 2, 1829, and died on January 11, 1892 in Santiago, Chile.He was son of Captain Juan Antonio Riveros of the Independencia and of Mercedes Cardenas, daughter of a realistic officer. He lived his childhood in Changüitad, the land of his mother, in the neighborhoods of Curaco de Vélez, Quinchao Island, Chiloé). The move occurred shortly after his birth and this has led to various sources being consigned to Changüitad or to Curaco de Vélez as the site of his birth. Nevertheless, this is contradicted by his baptismal certificate, which was filed in Valdivia. In 1843, the general Jose Santiago Aldunate placed him in the military academy after having lost his father.

In 1848 he entered the squadron, and embarked aboard the steamer Chile as a midshipman. Among his companions were the sailors Simpson, Bynnon and Munoz Gamero, later superior heads of the Chilean Navy. In 1848 he made a study trip to Oceania and California aboard the French frigate Poursuivante, under the command of Admiral Legoumet. One of the first hydrographic expeditions was to the Toltén River, in a period in which the Araucanía had not yet been conquered.

He was promoted to lieutenant in 1851, and, under orders of the commander Bynnon, made a trip to Europe in 1857 to bring to Chile the warship Maria Isabel. He was second chief of that ship when he was shipwrecked in Misericordia Bay. In 1859 he was promoted to the rank of Corvette Captain, and Frigate Captain in 1866. In 1863 he was sent to patrol the north coast, from Atacama to Mejillones, with the mission to monitor the border. He had control of the warships "Emeralda", "Independencia", and "Corbeta Abtao". In 1872 he was appointed maritime governor of Valparaiso and in 1876, he obtained the rank of Ship-of-the-line Captain.

Ismael Warleta y Ordovás

Ismael Warleta y Ordovás (1836, Madrid – 9 August 1898) was a Spanish admiral who served as the Chief of Staff of the Spanish Navy from 20 August 1897 until his death on 9 August 1898 (although his successor was not appointed until 30 March 1899). Warleta's tenure as chief of naval staff coincided with the Spanish–American War, during which he attended a meeting on 23 April 1898 led by the naval minister Segismundo Bermejo y Merelo, where he supported the proposal of deploying Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete's squadron to Cuba—a decision that led to the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. Previously, he had served as the head of the logistics branch of the Ministry of the Navy, and from 1888 until 1890 he commanded the cruiser Reina Regente as a ship-of-the-line captain.

Italian Navy ranks

The rank insignia of the Italian Navy are worn on epaulettes of shirts and white jackets, and on sleeves for navy jackets and mantels.

Manuel Mozo y Díaz Robles

Manuel Mozo y Díaz Robles (1 January 1837, Ferrol, Spain – 27 April 1902) was a Spanish admiral, the Chief of Staff of the Spanish Navy from 30 March 1899 till his death on 27 April 1902. Additionally, he commanded multiple different ships and squadrons, as well as serving as commandant of the Escuela Naval Militar. He himself entered the naval college at Cadíz in 1849. During the Spanish–American War, Mozo attended the 23 April 1898 meeting of senior Spanish naval officers chaired by Segismundo Bermejo y Merelo to discuss the dispatch of Admiral Pascual Cervera y Topete's squadron to Puerto Rico and Cuba. He stated that if the Government of Spain believed it was in the country's best interest, then he was in favor, otherwise he considered that it would lead to disaster unless his squadron was reinforced. He was awarded the Order of Naval Merit in 1897. As of 1895, he was a ship-of-the-line captain. He was a supporter of the Jeune Ecole French school of naval strategic thought, which he spoke of in his treatise on international maritime law.

Military ranks of Equatorial Guinea

The ranks of the Armed Forces of Equatorial Guinea. Being a former colony of Spain, Equatorial Guinea shares a rank structure similar to that of Spain.

Military ranks of the Armed Forces of Gabon

The rank insignia of the Armed Forces of Gabon are worn on jackets and shoulder epaulettes. Being a former colony of France, the Armed Forces of Gabon share a rank structure similar to that of France. However, unlike those of France, it has additional field officer and junior officer ranks.

Ship-of-the-line lieutenant

Ship-of-the-line lieutenant is a common naval rank, equivalent to the modern naval rank of lieutenant in the UK, the Commonwealth and the USA. The name of the rank derives from the name of the largest class of warship, the ship of the line, as opposed to smaller types of warship (corvettes and frigates).

While obsolete in most modern navies, some naval forces and merchant fleets still use the rank: lieutenant de vaisseau in French, tenente di vascello in Italian, teniente de navío in Spanish, sorhajóhadnagy in the Hungarian, and Linienschiffsleutnant in the Austrian merchant fleet, while the German Bundesmarine and German merchant fleet use the rank of Captain lieutenant (Kapitänleutnant), like it is the case in other European navies.

The NATO rank code is OF-2.

The Bolitho novels

The Bolitho novels are a series of nautical war novels written by Douglas Reeman (using the pseudonym Alexander Kent). They focus on the military careers of Richard Bolitho and Adam Bolitho in the Royal Navy, from the time of the American Revolution past the Napoleonic Era.

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