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RN Commander Rank Insignia.png
Rank insignia and collar RN Commander
Country United Kingdom
Service branchRoyal Navy
Next higher rankCaptain
Next lower rankLieutenant Commander

A Commander, is a commissioned officer rank of the Royal Navy first introduced in 1794 when it replaced the rank of Master and Commander.


Prior to 1794 this rank was known as Master and Commander and was only for those commanding officers of warship with less than 24 guns, a sloop, or bomb vessels. It was simplified in 1794 to Commander. In 1827, the Royal Navy determined Commander as a rank for those who were in second-in-command of the largest warships in the Navy, a move that took some time to be popular. The rank of Lieutenant-Commander did not come into use until 1914 when the Royal Navy converted the rank of Senior Lieutenant. The rank of Lieutenant Commander is denoted by three gold stripes, with the middle stripe half as thick while the rank of Commander is denoted by three gold stripes.

Seniority and usage

A commander in the Royal Navy is senior to an officer holding the rank of lieutenant commander but junior to a captain. A commander may command a frigate, destroyer, submarine, mine countermeasures squadron, fishery protection squadron, patrol boat squadron, aviation squadron or shore installation, or may serve on a staff. Formerly equivalent to the Army rank of major,[1] a commander is now equivalent in rank to a lieutenant colonel in the British Army or a wing commander in the Royal Air Force. The rank of wing commander was derived from the naval rank of commander via the usage in the World War I Royal Naval Air Service.

The rank insignia of a commander features three rings of gold braid with a loop in the upper ring.[2]


  1. The Royal Kalendar, and Court and City Register for England, Scotland, Ireland and the Colonies. London: Oxford University. 1835. p. 148. Retrieved 7 September 2015.
  2. "Uniforms and Badges of Rank at Royal Navy website". Archived from the original on 27 January 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2015.