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US Admiral of Navy insignia

Insignia for Admiral of the Navy.

Admiral of the Navy is a rank in the United States Navy that has only been held once in history, by George Dewey. In recognition of his victory at Manila Bay in 1898, United States Congress authorized a single officer to hold the rank of admiral, and promoted Dewey to this rank in March 1899. By a Congressional Act of March 24, 1903, Dewey's rank was established as Admiral of the Navy, effective retroactive to March 1899. The text of the act read as follows:

Be it enacted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President is hereby authorized to appoint, by selection and promotion, an Admiral of the Navy, who shall not be placed upon the retired list except upon his own application; and whenever such office shall be vacated by death or otherwise the office shall cease to exist.[1]

It was further specified that this rank was senior to the four-star rank of admiral and was equal to Admiral of the Fleet in the British Royal Navy. The rank lapsed with the death of Admiral Dewey on January 16, 1917.

Comparison to Fleet Admiral[]

In 1944, with the establishment of the rank of five-star Fleet Admiral, the Department of the Navy specified in a Bureau of Navigation memo that that "the rank of Fleet Admiral of the United States Navy shall be be considered the senior most rank of the United States Navy". As George Dewey had been deceased for nearly thirty years, no comparison between his rank and that of Fleet Admiral was made until 1945. At that time, during the preparations for the invasion of Japan, the possibility was raised of promoting one of the serving United States Fleet Admirals to "six star rank" should the Army take a similar measure by promoting Douglas MacArthur to the rank of General of the Armies. Nothing official was ever published by the Navy Department concerning a Navy six star admiral rank and no comparison between the Admiral of the Navy, General of the Armies, and Fleet Admiral rank was ever announced.

See also[]


  1. CHAP 378, "An act creating the office of Admiral of the Navy", United States Congress

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