Commodore (rank)

Commodore (rank)
Common anglophone military ranks
Navies Armies Air forces
Admiral of
the fleet
Marshal /
field marshal
Marshal of
the Air Force
Admiral General Air marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air commodore
Captain Colonel Group captain
Commander Lieutenant colonel Wing commander
Major /
Lieutenant Captain Flight lieutenant
Sub-lieutenant Lieutenant Flying officer
Ensign 2nd lieutenant Pilot officer
Midshipman Officer cadet Officer cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Warrant officer Sergeant major Warrant officer
Petty officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading seaman Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private Aircraftman

Commodore is a military rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. Non-English-speaking nations often use the rank of flotilla admiral or counter admiral as an equivalent (although the latter may also correspond to rear admiral).

It is often regarded as a one-star rank with a NATO code of OF-6, but is not always regarded as a flag rank.[1]

It is sometimes abbreviated as Cdre, CDRE or COMO.[2]



The rank of commodore derives from the French commandeur, which was one of the highest ranks in orders of knighthood, and in military orders the title of the knight in charge of a commenda (a local part of the order's territorial possessions).


The Royal Netherlands Navy also used the rank of commandeur from the end of the 16th century for a variety of temporary positions, until it became a conventional permanent rank in 1955. The Royal Netherlands Air Force has adopted the English spelling of commodore for an equivalent rank.

The rank of commodore was at first a position created as a temporary title to be bestowed upon captains who commanded squadrons of more than one vessel. In many navies, the rank of commodore was merely viewed as a senior captain position, whereas other naval services bestowed upon the rank of commodore the prestige of flag officer status - commodore is the highest rank in the Irish Naval Service, for example, and is held by only one person. In the Royal Navy, the position was introduced to combat the cost of appointing more admirals - a costly business with a fleet as large as the Royal Navy's at that time.

United States

In 1899 the substantive rank of commodore was discontinued in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, but revived during World War II. It was discontinued as a rank in these services during the postwar period, but as an appointment, the title "commodore" was then used to identify senior U.S. Navy captains who commanded squadrons of more than one vessel or functional air wings or air groups that were not part of a carrier air wing or air group. Concurrently, until the early 1980s, U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard captains selected for promotion to the rank of rear admiral (lower half), would wear the same insignia as rear admiral (upper half), i.e., two silver stars for collar insignia or sleeve braid of one wide and one narrow gold stripe, even though they were actually only equivalent to one-star officers.

To correct this inequity, the rank of commodore as a single star flag officer was reinstated by both services in the early 1980s. This immediately caused confusion with those senior U.S. Navy captains commanding destroyer squadrons, submarine squadrons, functional air wings and air groups, and so on., who held the temporary "title" of commodore. As a result of this confusion, the services soon renamed the new one-star rank as commodore admiral (CADM) within the first six months following the rank's reintroduction. This was considered an awkward title and the rank was renamed a few months later to its current title of rear admiral (lower half), or RDML.

The "title" of commodore continues to be used in the U.S. Navy for those senior captains in command of organizations consisting of groups of ships or submarines organized into squadrons, air wings or air groups of aviation squadrons other than carrier air wings, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and special warfare (SEAL) groups, and construction battalion (SeaBee) regiments. Although not flag officers, modern day commodores in the U.S. Navy rate a blue and white command pennant that is normally flown at their headquarters facilities ashore or from ships they are embarked aboard.


In the Argentine Navy, the rank of commodore was created in the late 1990s, and is usually—but not always—issued to senior captains holding rear-admirals' positions. Its equivalent in the army is colonel-major, and has no equivalent in the air force. It´s usually—but incorrectly—referred to as "navy commodore", to avoid confusion with the "air force commodore", which is equivalent to the navy´s captain and army´s colonel. The sleeve lace is identical to that of the Royal Navy, and wears one star on the shoulder strap.

Naval rank

The following articles deal with the rank of commodore (or its equivalent) as it is employed in various countries.

Comandor Romania
Commandeur Netherlands
Commodore (Canada) Canada
Commodore (Finland) Finland
Commodore (Royal Navy) United Kingdom
Commodore (United States) United States[3]
Comodoro Portugal
Komodor Bulgaria, Croatia
Kommodore Germany

Air force ranks

Commodore, in Spanish comodoro, is a rank in the Argentine Air Force. This rank is the equivalent of a colonel in the Argentine Army, and a colonel or group captain in other air forces of the world. The Argentine rank below commodore is the rank of vice-commodore (Spanish vicecomodoro) equivalent to a lieutenant-colonel in the Argentine Army, and a lieutenant-colonel or wing commander in other air forces.

Commodore is a rank in the Royal Netherlands Air Force. It is a one-star rank and has essentially the same rank insignia as the British air commodore.

Many air forces, use the rank of air commodore. This rank was first used by the Royal Air Force and is now used in many countries such as India, Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Nigeria. It is the equivalent rank to the navy rank of "commodore", and the army ranks of brigadier and brigadier general.

The German air force used the concept of a unit commodore, although this was a unit command appointment rather than a rank.

Merchant and boating rank

Commodore is also a title held by the senior captain within a shipping company and by the senior officer of many yacht clubs and boating associations.

Convoy commodore

During wartime, a shipping convoy will have a ranking officer—sometimes an active-duty naval officer, at other times a civilian master or retired naval officer—designated as the convoy commodore. This title is not related to the individual's military rank (if any), but instead is the title of the senior individual responsible for the overall operation of the merchant ships and naval auxiliary ships that make up the convoy. The convoy commodore does not command the convoy' escort forces (if any), which are commanded by a naval officer who serves as escort commander.

Other uses

In the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, the senior elected officer of the organization is the National Commodore, also there are commodores elected for the individual district commands of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. They hold the title of District Commodore. There are also appointed commodores who are the senior office holder for the areas within the organizational directorate.

In the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary - PCGA, each of the directors in command of the 10 Coast Guard Auxiliary districts are commodores, as well as most of the Deputy National Directors (some may be rear admirals). Commodore is appreviated to COMMO in the PCGA.

Vanderbilt University's intercollegiate athletics teams are nicknamed "the commodores", a reference to Cornelius Vanderbilt's self-appointed title (he was the master of a large shipping fleet).

In the U.S. Sea Scouting program (which is part of the Boy Scouts of America), all National, Regional, Area, and Council committee chairs are titled as commodore, while senior committee members are addressed as vice commodore. Ship committee chairs do not hold this recognition.

See also


  1. ^ Whether "commodore" is a flag rank (or not) varies by country. Often, "rear admiral" is the first of the "flag ranks". For example, it was not until 2001 that the UK made "commodore" a "flag rank", and changed the shoulder rank insignia (although not the cuff rings) of the higher ranking admirals accordingly. Australia made this change in the mid-1990s, and also changed the commodore rank insignia to include a star.
  2. ^ The "Cdre" abbreviation for the OF-6 rank of commodore is sometimes confused with the "Cmdr" abbreviation for the OF-4 rank of "commander".
  3. ^ The modern US rank for this level is rear admiral (lower half)
  4. ^ U.S. commodore is not a current rank. The insignia is used for rear admiral (lower half).

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