Fleet admiral of the United States Navy, or more commonly referred to as fleet admiral (FADM), is a five-star flag officer rank, and it is considered to be the highest possible rank attainable in the United States Navy. Fleet admiral ranks immediately above admiral and is equivalent to general of the army and general of the Air Force. The fleet admiral rank is reserved for wartime use only and the grade is not currently active.
A special grade of admiral of the Navy, which ranks above fleet admiral, was once conferred to Admiral George Dewey following the Spanish–American War (1898) in 1903, but it ceased to exist after his death on 16 January 1917.
The insignia for a fleet admiral is composed of five silver stars in a pentagonal design. Worn on the service dress uniform sleeve is a two-inch rank stripe, then four half inch stripes, and then a single five-pointed star, point down.
In keeping with a tradition dating back to the 18th-century Royal Navy, a fleet admiral is entitled to full admiral's pay and fringe benefits, including a small staff, for the remainder of his life.
Fleet admirals of the United States
The United States rank of fleet admiral was created by an Act of Congress on a temporary basis under Pub.L. 78-482 on December 14, 1944, and made permanent by Pub.L. 79–333 on March 23, 1946. It was held during and after World War II by the following officers:
- William D. Leahy – December 15, 1944,
- Ernest J. King – December 17, 1944,
- Chester W. Nimitz – December 19, 1944,
- William F. Halsey, Jr. – December 11, 1945
The timing of the first three appointments was carefully planned, such that a clear order of seniority and a near-equivalence between the services was established for the generals of the army promoted at the same time.
A close contender to receive the rank of fleet admiral was Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. However, U.S. Representative Carl Vinson, a strong supporter of Admiral Halsey, reportedly blocked the final promotion of Spruance to fleet admiral on several occasions. However, Congress then responded by passing an Act of Congress, unprecedented for an individual, that stated that Admiral Spruance would receive a full four-star admiral's salary during the rest of his lifetime.
Since 1945, there have been no additional fleet admirals appointed for the U.S. Navy. However, the rank of fleet admiral still remains listed on official rank insignia precedence charts, and if needed, this rank could be re-established at the discretion of Congress and the President. Some documents, especially those teaching new sailors the officer's rank structure, have incorrectly stated that the rank officially expired upon the death of Fleet Admiral Nimitz in 1966.
U.S. Naval tradition holds that the rank admiral of the navy is considered senior to that of fleet admiral. The only person ever to hold the rank of admiral of the navy was George Dewey. Dewey was awarded this rank in 1903 to commemorate his service in the Spanish–American War.
All five-star officers are unable to retire from active duty. This is more of a convention of honor than a practical matter, since five-star officers continue to be paid full salary and benefits for life, unless (as Dwight D. Eisenhower did upon his election to the office of President of the United States) they formally resign their commission. President Eisenhower's commission was reinstated back to 1944 by an Act of Congress signed by President John F. Kennedy immediately following Eisenhower's leaving office in January 1961.
- United States Navy officer rank insignia
- List of U.S. military leaders by rank
- List of fleet and grand admirals
- List of comparative military ranks
- s:Public Law 78-482 Pub.L. 78-482 – To establish the grade of Fleet Admiral for the United States Navy; to establish the grade of General of the Army, and for other purposes.
- "An Act to establish the grade of Fleet Admiral for the United States Navy; to establish the grade of General of the Army, and for other purposes". 14 December 1944. http://www.nightscribe.com/military/public_law_482.htm. Retrieved 2012-09-21.
- "Public Law 333, 79th Congress". Frequently Asked Questions. Naval History & Heritage Command. http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq36-6.htm. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
- "New York Times Chronology (March 1961)". John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum. 23 March 1961. http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/New+York+Times+Chronology/1961/March.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-30. "Mr. Kennedy signed into law the act of Congress restoring the five-star rank of General of the Army to his predecessor, Dwight D. Eisenhower. (15:5)"
|United States commissioned officer and officer candidate ranks|
|Pay grade / Branch of service||Officer
|Air Force||Cadet / OT / OC||2d Lt||1st Lt||Capt||Maj||Lt Col||Col||Brig Gen||Maj Gen||Lt Gen||Gen||GAF|||
|Army||CDT / OC||2LT||1LT||CPT||MAJ||LTC||COL||BG||MG||LTG||GEN||GA||GAS|
|Marine Corps||Midn / Cand||2ndLt||1stLt||Capt||Maj||LtCol||Col||BGen||MajGen||LtGen||Gen|||||
|Navy||MIDN / OC||ENS||LTJG||LT||LCDR||CDR||CAPT||RDML||RADM||VADM||ADM||FADM||AN|
|Coast Guard||CDT / OC||ENS||LTJG||LT||LCDR||CDR||CAPT||RDML||RADM||VADM||ADM|||||
|Public Health Service||[OC]||ENS||LTJG||LT||LCDR||CDR||CAPT||RADM||RADM||VADM||ADM|||||
Unofficial 1945 proposal for General of the Armies insignia; John J. Pershing's GAS insignia: ; George Dewey's AN insignia:
 Rank used for specific officers during World War II and Korea only, not permanent addition to rank structure
 Grade is authorized by the U.S. Code for use but has not been created
 Grade has never been created or authorized
|United States warrant officer ranks|
|Public Health Service|||||||||||
|National Oceanic and
 Grade is authorized for use by U.S. Code but has not been created
 Grade never created or authorized
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