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Please see Commodore (rank) for other versions of this rank.

Commodore Insignia

Rank Pennant

Commodore (Cdre) is a rank of the Royal Navy above Captain and below Rear Admiral. It has a NATO ranking code of OF-6. The rank is equivalent to Brigadier in the British Army and Royal Marines and to Air Commodore in the Royal Air Force.


The appointment of Commodore dates to the mid-17th century: it was first used in the time of William III. There was a need for officers to command squadrons, but it was not deemed desirable to create new admirals (as Post-Captains were promoted to Rear-Admiral in order of seniority). Captains assigned squadron command were given the title of Commodore, but it was not an actual rank. The officer so designated kept his place on the list of Captains. In 1748 it was established that Captains serving as Commodores were equal to Brigadier-Generals in the Army.

Commodores could revert to the rank of Captain at the end of their posting (and Captains could be promoted directly to Rear-Admiral without ever having served as a Commodore).

The Royal Navy Commodore was eventually split into two classes. Those of the first class had a Captain under them to command their ship and were allocated one-eighth of all prize money earned by ships under their command. Those of the second class commanded their own ship as well as the squadron. In 1783, Commodores of the first class were allowed to wear the uniform of a Rear-Admiral, a distinction which continued with some variation until the two classes of Commodore were consolidated in 1958.

By the 20th century, Commodores did not just command seagoing units (the naval barracks in the three main naval bases of Devonport, Portsmouth and Chatham were all commanded by Commodores, for instance) and the appointment of Commodore could also be held by specialist officers in certain positions as well as by line officers.

The Royal Air Force rank of air commodore was derived from the Royal Navy rank of commodore in 1919.

In 1996, Commodore was made a substantive rank in the Royal Navy. It had previously been an appointment, with the holder a Captain, reverting to the status of Captain at the end of the appointment.


Commodores First Class, while wearing the sleeve stripes of a Rear-Admiral, had gold lace-covered epaulettes with a crown, two stars and an anchor (also worn by other Commodores but only with formal uniforms). They flew a swallow-tailed pennant with the St George's cross, but without the disc that appeared on the pennant of a Second Class Commodore.

Commodores Second Class wore a single 1.75 inch-wide row of lace below a ring (known in naval regulations as a curl) measuring 1.75 inches in diameter on both sleeve and shoulder-board. Their uniforms were otherwise the same as for Captains.

Modern Commodores wear the insignia previously worn by Commodores Second Class.

Equivalent naval ranks

Some Commonwealth countries have replaced Commodore with an equivalent flag rank. The correct sleeve insignia for such a rank is a single 1.75 inch-wide row of gold lace below a gold lace curl with a diameter of 2 inches. The correct shoulder-board insignia comprises a crown (or national emblem for republics) with a crossed sword and baton on a gold lace-covered shoulder-board, however, there is some variation due to misconceptions about the status of stars in Commonwealth-style rank insignia. The rest of the uniform is identical to that of a Rear-Admiral.

See also

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