Military Wiki
US Navy O4 insignia

A US Navy lieutenant commander's sleeve/shoulder insignia

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

Lieutenant commander (also hyphenated lieutenant-commander and abbreviated Lt Cdr,[1] LtCdr.[2] or LCdr[3]) is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a lieutenant and subordinate to a commander. The corresponding rank in most armies (armed services) and air forces is major, and in the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces is squadron leader.

The NATO rank code is mostly OF-3.[4]

A lieutenant commander is a senior department officer on a large ship/shore installation or commanding officer or executive officer (second-in-command) of a smaller ship/installation.


Most Commonwealth and other navies address lieutenant commanders by their full rank or the position they occupy (captain if in command of a vessel). The United States Navy, however, usually addresses officers using the higher grade of the rank; as an example, a lieutenant junior grade is addressed simply as "Lieutenant," and a lieutenant commander is addressed as "Commander."


Lieutenants were commonly put in command of smaller vessels not warranting a commander or captain. Such a lieutenant was called a "lieutenant commanding" or "lieutenant commandant" in the United States Navy, and a "lieutenant in command," "lieutenant and commander," or "senior lieutenant" in the Royal Navy. The USN settled on "lieutenant commander" in 1862 and made it a distinct rank; the RN followed suit in March 1914.[5]

United Kingdom[]

Royal Navy[]


Royal Navy

The insignia worn by a Royal Navy lieutenant commander is two medium gold braid stripes with one thin gold stripe running in between, placed upon a navy blue/black background. The top stripe has the ubiquitous loop used in all RN officer rank insignia. The RAF follows this pattern with its equivalent rank of squadron leader.

Having fewer officer ranks than the army, the RN previously split some of its ranks by seniority (time in rank) to provide equivalence: hence a lieutenant with fewer than eight years seniority wore two stripes, and ranked with an army captain; a lieutenant of eight years or more wore two stripes with a thinner one in between, and ranked with a major. This distinction was abolished when the rank of lieutenant commander was introduced.

Royal Observer Corps[]

Throughout much of its existence, the British Royal Observer Corps (ROC) maintained a rank of observer lieutenant commander. The ROC wore a Royal Air Force uniform and their rank insignia appeared similar to that of an RAF squadron leader except that the stripes were shown entirely in black. Prior to the renaming, the rank had been known as observer lieutenant (first class).


In the Royal Canadian Navy, the rank is the naval rank equal to Major in the army or air force and is the first rank of senior officer. Lieutenant-Commanders are senior to Lieutenants (N) and to army and air force Captains, and are junior to Commanders and Lieutenant-Colonels.[4]

United States[]

There are two insignia used by US lieutenant commanders. On service khakis and all working uniforms, lieutenant commanders wear a gold oak leaf collar device, similar to the ones worn by a majors in the USAF and Army, and identical to that worn by majors in the Marine Corps. In all dress uniforms, they wear sleeve braid or shoulder boards bearing a single gold quarter-inch stripe between two gold half-inch strips (nominal size). Above or inboard of the stripes, they wear their speciality insignia (i.e., a star for officers of the line, crossed oak leaves for Civil Engineer Corps, etc.).[6]


Lieutenant Commander Pakistan Navy Insignia

Pakistani Lt. Commander's insignia.

This rank is also used on in Pakistan Navy.


The rank of lieutenant commander is also used in the Irish Naval Service, having a similar implication to the RN rank. It should be noted that the majority of vessel commanders in the Irish Naval Service hold the rank of lieutenant commander, with a commander being a senior, shore-based position.

Other countries[]

Capitaine de corvette

A French capitaine de corvette maneuvering.

The corresponding rank in the German Navy, Italian Navy, Brazilian Navy, French Navy, Spanish Navy and most other French and Spanish-speaking countries is corvette captain. The corresponding rank in the Estonian Navy and Portuguese Navy is captain lieutenant, in the Russian Navy it is "captain of the third rank" (капитан 3-го ранга), and in the Polish Navy it is komandor podporucznik, the equal rank in Finnish Navy is komentajakapteeni, "commander captain".[4]


  1. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Triservice Officers Pay and Grade". UK Government. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  2. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "A Dane giving the orders". Admiral Danish Fleet. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  3. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "US Navy Ranks". United States Navy. Retrieved 2013-04-25. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 NATO Standard Agreement (STANAG) 2116: NATO Codes for Grades of Military Personnel. NATO Standardization Agency. 
  5. Republic of Égyptien Q42 user:mgbtrust0 ®™✓©§∆∆∆€¢£. "Lieutenant Commander mokong Ibana". Retrieved 6 October 2009. 
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