Vice admiral (United States)

Vice admiral (abbreviated as VADM) is a three-star commissioned naval officer rank in the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, with the pay grade of O-9. Vice admiral ranks above rear admiral and below admiral. Vice admiral is equivalent to the rank of lieutenant general in the other uniformed services.

Vice admiral
Flag of a United States Navy vice admiral
Flag of the vice admiral of the Unrestricted Line, United States Navy.
US Navy O9 insignia
The stars, shoulder boards, and sleeve stripes of a U.S. Navy vice admiral of the "line".
Country United States of America
Service branch
NATO rankOF-08
Non-NATO rankO-9
Next higher rankAdmiral
Next lower rankRear admiral
Equivalent ranksLieutenant general (uniformed services of the United States)

Statutory limits

U.S. Code of law explicitly limits the total number of vice admirals that may be on active duty at any given time. The total number of active-duty flag officers is capped at 162 for the navy.[1] For the navy, no more than 16.7% of the service's active-duty flag officers may have more than two stars.[2][3][4] Some of these slots can be reserved by statute. Officers serving in certain Defense Agency Director positions such as the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), when filled by a naval officer, are vice admirals. The Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy is usually a vice admiral, either upon nomination or shortly thereafter. The President may also add vice admirals to the Navy if they are offset by removing an equivalent number of three-star officers from other services.[2] Finally, all statutory limits may be waived at the President's discretion during time of war or national emergency.[5]

Appointment and tour length

The three-star grade goes hand-in-hand with the position of office it is linked to, so the rank is temporary. Officers may only achieve three-star grade if they are appointed to positions that require the officer to hold such a rank.[6] Their rank expires with the expiration of their term of office, which is usually set by statute.[6] Vice admirals are nominated for appointment by the President from any eligible officers holding the rank of rear admiral (lower half) or above, who also meet the requirements for the position, under the advice and/or suggestion of the Secretary of Defense, the applicable service secretary, or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[6] The nominee must be confirmed via majority vote by the Senate before the appointee can take office and thus assume the rank.[6] The standard tour length for most vice admiral positions is three years but some are set four or more years by statute.

Extensions of the standard tour length can be approved, within statutory limits, by their respective service secretaries, the Secretary of Defense, the President, and/or Congress but these are rare, as they block other officers from being promoted. Some statutory limits under the U.S. Code can be waived in times of national emergency or war. Three-star ranks may also be given by act of Congress but this is extremely rare.


Other than voluntary retirement, statute sets a number of mandates for retirement. Three-star officers must retire after 38 years of service unless appointed for promotion or reappointed to grade to serve longer.[7] Otherwise all flag officers must retire the month after their 64th birthday.[8] The Secretary of Defense, however, can defer a three-star officer's retirement until the officer's 66th birthday and the president can defer it until the officer's 68th birthday.

Flag officers typically retire well in advance of the statutory age and service limits, so as not to impede the upward career mobility of their juniors. Since there is a finite number of three-star slots available to each service, typically one officer must leave office before another can be promoted.[9] Maintaining a three-star rank is a game of musical chairs; once an officer vacates a position bearing that rank, he or she has no more than 60 days to be appointed or reappointed to a job of equal or higher importance before he or she must involuntarily retire.[6] Historically, officers leaving three-star positions were allowed to revert to their permanent two-star ranks to mark time in lesser jobs until statutory retirement, but now such officers are expected to retire immediately to avoid obstructing the promotion flow.


USN-USMC O9 insignia

U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, USPHSCC, NOAACOC insignia

Flag of a United States Coast Guard vice admiral

A U.S. Coast Guard vice admiral's flag (unrestricted line officer)

USCG O-9 insignia

The stars, shoulder boards, and sleeve stripes of a U.S. Coast Guard vice admiral

US PHS O9 insignia

The stars, shoulder boards, and sleeve stripes of a U.S. Public Health Service vice admiral

US NOAA O9 insignia

The stars, shoulder boards, and sleeve stripes of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration vice admiral

See also


  1. ^ 10 USC 526. Authorized strength: general and flag officers on active duty
  2. ^ a b [1] 10 USC 525. Distribution of commissioned officers on active duty in general officer and flag officer grades.
  3. ^ [2] Pub.L. 110-181: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
  4. ^ [3] Pub.L. 110-181: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 full text
  5. ^ [4] 10 USC 527. Authority to suspend sections 523, 525, and 526.
  6. ^ a b c d e [5] 10 USC 601. Positions of importance and responsibility: generals and lieutenant generals; admirals and vice admirals.
  7. ^ [6] 10 USC 636. Retirement for years of service: regular officers in grades above brigadier general and rear admiral (lower half).
  8. ^ 10 USC 1253. Age 64: regular commissioned officers in general and flag officer grades; exception.
  9. ^ [7] DoD News Briefing on Thursday, June 6, 1996. Retirement of Admiral Leighton W. Smith Jr.
Booz Allen Hamilton

Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corporation (informally Booz Allen) is the parent of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., a U.S. management and information technology consulting firm, headquartered in McLean, Virginia, in Greater Washington, D.C., with 80 other offices around the globe. The company's stated core business is to provide consulting, analysis and engineering services to public and private sector organizations and nonprofits.

Frank E. Beatty

Frank Edmund Beatty (26 November 1853 – 16 March 1926) was a rear admiral in the United States Navy.

Harvey E. Johnson Jr.

Harvey E. Johnson Jr., retired Vice Admiral, United States Coast Guard, is the President of Humanitarian Services for the American Red Cross. Previously, Johnson was the former Vice President for National Preparedness and Response Solutions at BAE Systems and Deputy Administrator and Chief Operating Officer of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

John D. Bulkeley

John Duncan Bulkeley (19 August 1911 – 6 April 1996) was a vice admiral in United States Navy and was one of its most decorated naval officers. Bulkeley received the Medal of Honor for actions in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He was also the PT boat skipper who evacuated General Douglas MacArthur from Corregidor in the Philippines and commanded at the Battle of La Ciotat. The United States Navy named an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer after him: USS Bulkeley (DDG-84), commissioned in 2001.

Le Moyne College

Le Moyne College is a private Jesuit college in Syracuse, New York. Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1946 and named after Jesuit missionary Simon Le Moyne, Le Moyne was the first Jesuit college to be founded as a co-educational institution. The college is the second-youngest of the twenty-eight Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States and is the only comprehensive Catholic college in Central New York.

Le Moyne College's 160-acre (0.65 km2) campus is located in the Town of DeWitt, in a suburban residential neighborhood. It borders the Salt Springs neighborhood of Syracuse, facilitating partnerships with the city of Syracuse and regional businesses and organizations. The college enrolls over 3,500 undergraduate and graduate students.

Lieutenant general (United States)

In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force, lieutenant general (abbreviated LTG in the Army, Lt Gen in the Air Force, and LtGen in the Marine Corps) is a three-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-9. Lieutenant general ranks above major general and below general. Lieutenant general is equivalent to the rank of vice admiral in the other uniformed services.

NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, known informally as the NOAA Corps, is one of seven federal uniformed services of the United States, and operates under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a scientific agency overseen by the Department of Commerce. The NOAA Corps is made up of scientifically and technically trained officers and is the smallest of the U.S. uniformed services. It is one of only two––the other being the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps––that consists only of commissioned officers, with no enlisted or warrant officer ranks.

The NOAA Corps was established in 1970, though its origins in its predecessor organizations date back to 22 May 1917. It is the successor to the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Corps (1917–1965) and the United States Environmental Science Services Administration Commissioned Officer Corps (ESSA Corps) (1965–1970).

Nora W. Tyson

Nora Wingfield Tyson is a retired United States Navy officer. In 2015, she was installed as the new commander of the Navy’s Third Fleet, making her the first woman to lead a U.S. Navy ship fleet. She retired from service in 2017. Tyson previously served as the commander of Carrier Strike Group Two (CCSG2), from July 29, 2010 to January 12, 2012; she was the first female commander of a U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group. She then served as Vice Director of the Joint Staff beginning in February 2012. In July 2013 she was promoted to Vice Admiral and named as Deputy Commander, US Fleet Forces Command.

Patrick N. L. Bellinger

Patrick Nieson Lynch Bellinger (October 8, 1885 – May 30, 1962) was a United States Navy officer with the rank of Vice Admiral, a naval aviator and a naval aviation pioneer.

Samuel P. Carter

Samuel Perry "Powhatan" Carter (August 6, 1819 – May 26, 1891) was a United States naval officer who served in the Union Army as a brevet major general during the American Civil War and became a rear admiral in the postbellum United States Navy. He was the first and thus far only United States officer to have been commissioned both a general officer and a Naval flag officer. C.f.: Joseph D. Stewart, Major General, (United States Marine Corps) and Vice Admiral (United States Maritime Service), the USMS being a civilian agency. C.f. also: Rear Admiral and Brigadier General Raphael Semmes, Confederate States Navy and Army.

Scituate, Massachusetts

Scituate ( (listen)) is a seacoast town in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, United States, on the South Shore, midway between Boston and Plymouth. The population was 18,133 at the 2010 census.For geographic and demographic information on the village of North Scituate, which is a part of Scituate, please see the article North Scituate, Massachusetts.

Thomas Connolly

Thomas Connolly is the name of:

Thomas F. Connolly (1909–1996), Vice Admiral, United States Navy, gymnast and Olympic medalist in rope climbing

Thomas Arthur Connolly (1899–1991), first Archbishop of Seattle (1951–1975)

Thomas J. Connolly (born 1958), attorney and politician from the U.S. state of Maine

Thomas Joseph Connolly (1922–2015), American bishop of the Roman Catholic Church

Thomas-Louis Connolly (1814–1876), Canadian Roman Catholic archbishop

Tom Connolly (1870–1961), English-born American baseball umpire

Tom Connolly (third baseman) (1892–1966), baseball third baseman

Three-star rank

An officer of three-star rank is a senior commander in many of the armed services holding a rank described by the NATO code of OF-8. The term is also used by some armed forces which are not NATO members. Typically, three-star officers hold the rank of vice admiral, lieutenant general, or in the case of those air forces with a separate rank structure, air marshal.

Wellston, Ohio

Wellston is a city in Jackson County, Ohio, United States, in the southeastern part of the state. The population was 5,663 at the 2010 census.

William R. Smedberg III

William Renwick Smedberg III (September 28, 1902 – October 5, 1994) was a vice admiral in the United States Navy. He was Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland from March 16, 1956 to June 27, 1958. During World War II, Smedberg served as commanding officer of U.S.S. Lansdowne and U.S.S. Hudson. After the war, he served as an aide to Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal.

He was a 1926 graduate of the Naval Academy. He is interred in the Arlington National Cemetery along with his father, Brigadier General William Renwick Smedberg, Jr., USA, and his son Rear Admiral William Renwick Smedberg IV, USN.

William Raborn

William Francis Raborn, Jr., (June 8, 1905 – March 6, 1990) was the United States Director of Central Intelligence from April 28, 1965 until June 30, 1966. He was also a career United States Navy officer who led the project to develop the Polaris missile system and retired from the Navy in 1963 as a Vice Admiral.Born in Decatur, Texas, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1928. During World War II he directed the Gunnery Training Section at the Bureau of Aeronautics. He also served in the Pacific on aircraft carriers: Raborn was the executive officer of the carrier USS Hancock (CV-19) when her deck was damaged by a kamikaze attack. He had the deck repaired in four hours, allowing the ship's aircraft (which had been airborne when the kamikaze struck) to land safely - for this Raborn was awarded the Silver Star. He later commanded the carriers USS Bairoko (CVE-115) and USS Bennington (CV-20).

Raborn was a rear admiral when he was appointed, on November 8, 1955, as Director of Special Projects at the Bureau of Weapons. His task was to develop a submarine-launched ballistic missile. He reported directly to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Arleigh Burke and the Secretary of the Navy Charles Thomas. Raborn was told the new system had to achieve interim capability by early 1963 and full capability by early 1965. The USS George Washington (SSBN-598), the first ballistic missile submarine, was commissioned December 30, 1959, fired its first test missile July 20, 1960, and departed on the Navy's first deterrent patrol on November 15, 1960. Raborn received the Distinguished Service Medal and was appointed Vice Admiral in 1960. The same year he was awarded the Collier Trophy for his work on Polaris.Raborn had delivered Polaris three years ahead of schedule, due in part to his application of the PERT methodology. He became Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Development in 1962. Raborn retired from the Navy in 1965 and on April 28 of that year, despite his having no intelligence experience, President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Raborn as the seventh Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). As DCI, one of his primary responsibilities was to direct the Central Intelligence Agency.

Time magazine wrote that his organizational skills would be invaluable in a CIA that admitted it was in danger of being "drowned in data", but his tenure was not successful: author David Barrett described Raborn as "incompetent at CIA, not understanding the agency or the intelligence business", and even the CIA's own historians said "Raborn did not 'take' to the DCI job". A later CIA director, William Colby, described Raborn as focused on intelligence technology and not sufficiently attuned to the cultural issues involved in dealing with foreign nationals and governments.

Raborn resigned on June 30, 1966, having served for only fourteen months as DCI. He was replaced by his deputy, Richard Helms.

He was involved, during his time at the CIA, in its early activities against Ramparts magazine and its editors.Raborn is buried in the United States Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland.

Raborn was also:

Vice Admiral (United States Navy)

Director, U.S. Navy Special Projects Office

Deputy Chief of Naval Operations [1]

Willis Augustus Lee

Willis Augustus "Ching" Lee Jr. (May 11, 1888 – August 25, 1945) was a vice admiral of the United States Navy during World War II. Lee commanded the American ships during the second night of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (November 14–15, 1942) and turned back a Japanese invasion force headed for the island. The victory ended Japanese attempts to reinforce their troops on Guadalcanal, and thus marked a turning point in both the Guadalcanal Campaign and the Pacific War itself.

Lee was also a skilled sport shooter, and won seven medals in the 1920 Olympics shooting events (including five gold medals), tied with teammate Lloyd Spooner for the most anyone had ever received in a single games. Their record stood for 60 years. He was the most successful athlete at the 1920 Olympics.

Woodward Academy

Woodward Academy (also known as Woodward or WA) is an independent, co-educational college-preparatory school for pre-kindergarten to 12th grade on two campuses located in College Park and Johns Creek, Georgia, United States, within the Atlanta metropolitan area.

United States uniformed services commissioned officer and officer candidate ranks
Pay grade / branch of service Officer
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6 O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10 O-11 Special
alt=alt=Officer Candidate[1] alt=alt=Second lieutenant / Ensign alt=alt=First lieutenant / Lieutenant (junior grade) alt=alt=alt=Captain / Lieutenant[6] alt=alt=Major / Lieutenant commander alt=alt=Lieutenant colonel / Commander alt=alt=Colonel / Captain alt=alt=Brigadier general / Rear admiral (lower half) alt=alt=Major General / Rear admiral[6] alt=alt=Lieutenant general / Vice admiral[6] US-O10 insignia[6] alt=alt=General of the Air Force / General of the Army / Fleet Admiral alt=alt=General of the Armies / Admiral of the Navy[2]
Midn / Cand 2ndLt 1stLt Capt Maj LtCol Col BGen MajGen LtGen Gen [5] [5]
Cadet / OT / OC 2nd Lt 1st Lt Capt Maj Lt Col Col Brig Gen Maj Gen Lt Gen Gen GAF[3] [5]
W-1 W-2 W-3 W-4 W-5
USMC WO1.svg
US Navy WO1 insignia.svg
US Navy CW2 insignia.svg
US Navy CW3 insignia.svg
US Navy CW4 insignia.svg
US Navy CW5 insignia.svg
USAF CW5.png
USCG WO1 insignia.svg
USCG CW2 insignia.svg
USCG CW3 insignia.svg
USCG CW4 insignia.svg
[2] [2] [2] [2]


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