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Naval officer ranks
Flag officers:

Admiral of the fleetFleet admiralGrand admiral
AdmiralGeneral admiral
Vice admiralSquadron vice-admiralLieutenant admiral
Rear admiralCounter admiralDivisional admiral
CommodoreFlotilla admiral

Senior officers:

CaptainCapt at seaCapt of sea and warShip-of-the-line Capt
CommanderFrigate captain
Lieutenant commanderCorvette captain

Junior officers:

Captain lieutenantLieutenantShip-of-the-line lieutenant
Frigate lieutenantLieutenant (junior grade)Sub-lieutenant
Corvette lieutenantEnsign

German rank insignia of a Captain at Sea

Netherlands rank insignia of a Captain at Sea

Soviet rank insignia of a Captain 1st Rank

Captain at sea (German: Kapitän zur See; Dutch: kapitein-ter-zee) 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 USA.


Captain at sea (Kapitän zur See, KptzS/KZS) was and is the highest staff officer rank in the Kaiserliche Marine and the German Navy, corresponding to command of a ship-of-the-line or capital ship. It is equivalent to Oberst in the Bundeswehr or to Flottenarzt/Oberstarzt, Flottenapotheker/Oberstapotheker and Oberstveterinär in the Zentraler Sanitätsdienst der Bundeswehr.

Its rank insignia, worn on the sleeves and shoulders, are one five-pointed star above four gold stripes (without the star when rank loops are worn). It is grade A16 or B3 (when deployed to a higher position than CO of a ship) in the pay rules of the Federal Ministry of Defence. Holders of the rank commanded or command capital ships and heavy cruisers, naval schools, and the staff-officer sections of all training-schools - even the Gorch Fock is commanded by a captain at sea.


In the Royal Netherlands Navy the rank of kapitein-ter-zee is the third grade of superior officer, equivalent to colonel in the land-forces. His insignia is made up of four bands and he commands a capital ship or a shore establishment (until recently, a kapitein-ter-zee commanded the Onderzeedienst and Mijnendienst, the Netherlands Navy's submarine and mine-laying training establishments). Smaller vessels such as destroyers and frigates are commanded by a kapitein-luitenant ter zee.

Until recently flagships of the Netherlands Navy (such as Tromp-class frigates) were also commanded by a kapitein-ter-zee. Currently De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates are commanded by a kapitein-luitenant-ter-zee.

See also

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