- Captain (naval)
:"For information specifically on the Royal Navy rank of captain, see
Captain (Royal Navy)." Military ranks
Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The NATO rank code is OF-5, equivalent to an army full
The equivalent rank in many navies is
Ship-of-the-Line Captain. Other equivalent ranks in other navies notably include Captain of Sea and Waror Captain at Sea.
The command of a
shipis most often given to the naval rank (equivalent to a commissioned officerbetween commander(OF-4) and commodore or rear admiral(OF-6)). The Polish Navyis, however, a notable exception "naval captain" in position of Lieutenantor Captain Lieutenantand OF-5 rank being a "commander" ("komandor"). The naval rank should not be confused with the army, air force or marine rank of captain, which has a NATO code of OF-2.
Any naval officer below the rank of captain who commands a ship, is addressed as "captain" while aboard that ship, by naval custom. The ship's captain also may be referred to as the Skipper. A naval officer with the rank of captain traveling aboard a vessel he does not command is either never referred to by rank, or in some navies, is addressed as Commodore to avoid confusion with the ship's actual commander. The ship's commander remains in charge of the entire ship. Passengers who would otherwise outrank the ship's commander cannot override the commander in matters of directing the ship's operations.
Historically, throughout the Middle Ages, the Navy was an ad-hoc group of ships contracted for the duration of a given conflict and disbanded thereafter. The ship's "Master", who would command the ship during peacetime, would also remain in control of all things nautical during wartime. The "Captain" was merely the commander of the embarked infantry contingent upon the ship, who with the help of his "lieutenants" would act as the agent of the king--and hence de facto commander--while the ship was contracted with the Navy. During Tudor times, the title of "Captain" began to refer to the commander of a ship of the Royal Navy, once that organization became established on an ongoing basis and maintained a standing fleet.
As a matter of etiquette in the U.S. Navy there is only one captain aboard a vessel. If a
Marine Corpscaptain is at the officer's mess, he or she is given the courtesy title of majorto be differentiated from the head of the ship.
Captains with sea commands generally command ships of
cruisersize or larger. The more senior the officer, the larger the ship. Commanders of aircraft carriers can be rear admirals, but generally, ship commanders are of captain rank or lower. Also, many captains are either retired or have desk jobs.
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