Naval Officer Ranks Guide

Naval officer ranks are titles given to officers of navies throughout the world. Those military ranks are different from the usual army or air force ranks, and also vary depending on the navy’s country. Most of the titles used derive from very old navies such as Britain’s, France’s, or Spain’s. Generally speaking, there are 10 possible ranks from OF-1 to OF-10. Although not every country works the same way and has the same classification, every officer in the navy starts at the first level and has the opportunity to move up the ladder if they work hard enough.

OF-1 to OF-5 Naval Officer Ranks:

This first category of naval officer ranks applies to any subaltern officer below captain, and is composed of the lowest titles one could have. The most commons titles are quite simple. The OF-1 category is split between two possibilities: junior and senior. OF-1 juniors would represent midshipmen, acting sub-lieutenants, ensigns, or corvette lieutenants, whereas OF-1 seniors would be called sub-lieutenants or frigate lieutenants. OF-2 are lieutenants, ship of the line lieutenants, or captain-lieutenants. OF-3, a grade up, bear the lieutenant-commanders and corvette captains titles. OF-4 are simply commanders or frigate captains, meanwhile OF-5 officers are the highest ranked in their categories and have the holy titles of “captain”, and sometimes “captain of sea and war”.

Naval officer ranks

OF-6 to OF-10 Naval Officer Ranks:

These naval officer ranks are the highest possible promotions an officer in the navy could get. Being promoted to OF-10 is nowadays extremely rare and practically impossible to get, as it is often reserved for wartime. Those ranks also differ depending on the navy’s origin. Most of the time, though, the titles are, like the other naval officer ranks, the same in a lot of countries (just translated in the proper language). OF-6 represents the rear admiral (lower half), OF-7 the upper half rear admiral. OF-8 would be vice admiral, while OF-9 is simply admiral. The ultimate rank, OF-10, is fleet admiral.

Naval Officer Ranks Discrepancies

As said before, some navies do not share the same classification. Countries that do not share the NATO command structure, meaning the OF numbers system, do not fall on the usual scale. It’s quite interesting to note that in some places, the naval officer ranks will overlap or mix up, giving officers with the same qualifications different names and titles. For example, the Russian navy doesn’t have commodores (OF-6) but do have fleet admirals (OF-10), which means all the ranks move down one grade. Another example would be the Royal New Zealand Navy, that puts the ranks of admiral and vice-admiral on the same degree of importance as other countries’ OF-10, to be used only in times of war. Finally, some countries do not have an OF-10 level at all: it’s the case of Albania, Belgium, or even Sweden. They have their own naval officer ranks, and differ from the usual European inspired one.