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Rear admiral is a senior naval flag officer rank, equivalent to a major general or divisional general and air vice marshal and above that of a commodore and captain, but below that of a vice admiral.

The term originated in the days of naval sailing squadrons and can trace its origins to the Royal Navy. Each naval squadron was assigned an admiral as its head, who commanded from the centre vessel and directed the squadron's activities. The admiral would in turn be assisted by a vice admiral, who commanded the lead ships that bore the brunt of a battle. In the rear of the squadron, a third admiral commanded the remaining ships and, as this section was considered to be in the least danger, the admiral in command of it was typically the most junior. This has continued into the modern age, with rear admiral the most junior admiralty of many navies.

In most European navies, the equivalent rank is called counter admiral.


Main article: Rear admiral (Australia)

The Royal Australian Navy maintains a rank of rear admiral; refer to Australian Defence Force ranks and insignia. The abbreviation is RADM.[1]

Since the mid-1990s, the insignia of a Royal Australian Navy rear admiral is the Crown of St. Edward above a crossed sword and baton, above two silver stars, above the word "Australia". Like the Royal Navy version, the sword is a traditional naval cutlass. The stars have eight points, unlike the four pointed Order of the Bath stars used by the army (which are often referred to as "pips"). Prior to 1995, the RAN shoulder board was identical to the Royal Navy shoulder board. The Royal Navy shoulder board changed again in 2001 and the Australian and UK shoulder boards are now identical except for the word "Australia".[2]

Rear Admiral Robyn Walker AM, RAN became the first female admiral in the Royal Australian Navy when she was appointed Surgeon-General of the Australian Defence Force on 16 December 2011.[3]


See also: Canadian Forces ranks and insignia

In the Royal Canadian Navy, the rank of rear-admiral (RAdm) (contre-amiral or CAm in French) is the Navy rank equivalent to major-general of the Army and Air Force. A rear-admiral is a flag officer, the naval equivalent of a general officer. A rear-admiral is senior to a commodore and brigadier-general, and junior to a vice-admiral and lieutenant-general.[citation needed]

The rank insignia for a rear-admiral is two silver maple leaves beneath a silver crossed sword and baton, all surmounted by St Edward's Crown, worn on gold shoulder boards on the white short-sleeved shirt or the tropical white tunic. The service dress features a wide strip of gold braid around the cuff and, since June 2010,[4] above it a narrower strip of gold braid embellished with the executive curl. On the visor of the service cap are two rows of gold oak leaves.[citation needed]


Main article: Rear admiral (India)


Main article: Rear admiral (Pakistan)

A rear admiral in the Pakistani Navy is a senior and two-star rank naval officer, appointed in higher naval commands. Like most Commonwealth navies, the rear admiral rank is superior to commodore and captain. However, the rank is junior to the three-star rank vice-admiral and four-star rank admiral, who is generally a Chief of Naval Staff of the Navy.[citation needed]


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The rank insignia of a schout-bij-nacht

Schout-bij-nacht (pronounced [ˈsxʌu̯d bɛi̯ ˈnɑxt])[5] is a Dutch Naval rank, equivalent to rear admiral in the US Navy and Royal Navy. It is the second most junior admiral position of the Dutch Navy, ranking above commandeur ("commodore") and below a vice-admiraal ("vice admiral").

The rank of schout-bij-nacht originated between the 15th and 16th century. Interpreted as "watch-at-night", the schout-bij-nacht was the officer who supervised the ship when the captain was asleep.

In later times the schout-bij-nacht was also the officer who supervised an entire naval squadron, in the absence of a senior admiral, and by the 17th century schout-bij-nacht was the common rank held by the naval commander of a battle fleet's rear squadron.

In the 17th century the navies of Sweden and Denmark-Norway adopted the rank as schoutbynacht and the early Imperial Russian Navy as шаутбенахт ("shautbenakht"). In 1724 the Russians, followed in 1771 by both the Swedish Navy and the Dano-Norwegian Navy changed the name of the rank to the originally German counter admiral (контр-адмирал in Russian, konteramiral in Swedish, kontreadmiral in Danish and Norwegian).

New Zealand

The highest ordinary rank currently filled in the Royal New Zealand Navy is rear admiral and this is the rank held by the Chief of Navy[6] unless that person is also Chief of Defence Force.[citation needed]


Main article: Singapore Armed Forces ranks § Officers

The Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) has two ranks with the title of rear admiral: rear-admiral (one-star), a one-star rank; and rear-admiral (two-star), a two-star rank.

Sri Lanka

Main article: Rear admiral (Sri Lanka)

Rear admiral is a two-star rank in the Sri Lanka Navy.


Main article: Rear admiral (Sweden)

In Sweden, rear admiral is a two-star admiral rank of the Swedish Navy.[citation needed]

United Kingdom

Main article: Rear admiral (Royal Navy)

The Royal Navy maintains a rank of rear admiral. Note that the rank of rear admiral is quite different from the honorary office Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom.[citation needed]

United States

Main article: Rear admiral (United States)

In the United States, there have been two ranks with the title of rear admiral since 1985: rear admiral (lower half) (RDML), a one-star rank; and rear admiral (RADM), a two-star rank. Prior to that, a combination of ranks was used.[7] Both the rear admiral (lower half) and rear admiral ranks exist in four of the uniformed services of the United States: the United States Navy, United States Coast Guard, United States Public Health Service (USPHS) Commissioned Corps, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps (NOAA Corps).

Admiral insignia by country

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ Navy, corporateName=Royal Australian. "Ranks of the Royal Australian Navy". Retrieved 21 July 2022.
  2. ^ "Uniform Ranks". Royal Australian Navy. Australian Government. Archived from the original on 24 January 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2016.
  3. ^ "First female Admiral for the Royal Australian Navy". Defence News. Department of Defence, Australian Government. 6 December 2011.
  4. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2010.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) The Maple Leaf/La Feuille d'érable – no. 13 vol.18
  5. ^ Schout in isolation: [ˈsxʌu̯t].
  6. ^ "Rear Admiral Jack Steer Appointed Chief of Navy". Royal New Zealand Navy. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  7. ^ 10 U.S.C. 5501 Notes
  8. ^ "Badges of rank" (PDF). Department of Defence (Australia). Retrieved 31 May 2021.
  9. ^ Bangladesh Navy. "Rank of Navy & Equivalent Rank". Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  10. ^ "Ranks and appointment". Government of Canada. 23 November 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Ranks & Insignia". Join Indian Navy. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  12. ^ "Naval Service Rank Markings". Defence Forces (Ireland). Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  13. ^ "BADGES OF RANK". Official Jamaica Defence Force Website. 2019. Archived from the original on 20 August 2020. Retrieved 16 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Badges of Rank". New Zealand Defence Force. Archived from the original on 3 July 2020. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  15. ^ Smaldone, Joseph P. (1992). "National Security". In Metz, Helen Chapin (ed.). Nigeria: a country study. Area Handbook (5th ed.). Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. pp. 296–297. LCCN 92009026. Retrieved 21 October 2021.
  16. ^ "LIFE IN PN:RANKS". Pakistan Navy Official Website. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  17. ^ "SAF Rank Insignias". Ministry of Defence (Singapore). Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  18. ^ "Rank Insignia". Department of Defence (South Africa). Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  19. ^ "Branches/ Ranks". Sri Lanka Navy. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  20. ^ "Rank Chart (Commissioned Officers)". Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. Retrieved 27 May 2021.
  21. ^ "Shaping your career". Royal Navy. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  22. ^ a b "U.S. Military Rank Insignia". Department of Defense. Retrieved 13 January 2022.