Lieutenant

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Lieutenant
RN Lieutenant Rank Insignia.png
RN Lieutenant Rank Insignia Sleeve
Country United Kingdom
Service branchRoyal Navy
AbbreviationLt
Formation1580-present
Next higher rankCommander (to 1914), Lieutenant Commander (from 1914)
Next lower rankSub-Lieutenant

A Lieutenant is a commissioned rank in the Royal Navy established in 1580. Before 1914 they ranked above Sub-Lieutenant but below Commander. From 1914 they ranked above Sub-Lieutenant and below Lieutenant Commander.

History

The rank lieutenant first appears as a naval officer about the year 1580. It was hoped that the new rank would supply a two-fold need, that it would provide the captain with an assistant combatant officer, and, at the same time, form " a body of trained sea-officers from whom the captains of the Navy Royal might be drawn as the older captains died off.[1]

After the restoration in 1660, Samuel Pepys introduced an examination to test the abilities of the rank and by doing so transformed their status from mere understudy to an actual job with particular duties attached. A ship’s senior Lieutenant, known as the First Lieutenant, was responsible for the organisation of the ship and administration under the guidance of the Captain.[2] Some ships carried more than one lieutenant. These would be distinguished as first, second and third. Until the introduction Master and Commander (new name for Lieutenant in the ships hierarchy) in 1670 this officer was second in command to the Captain.

He was responsible for maintaining discipline and navigation and with the junior Lieutenants responsible for ensuring the crew carried out their duties and was in charge of watches. Lieutenants received their commissions for particular ships and the position within the officer ranks. An officer was required to have at least six years’ service at sea before passing the examination for promotion to Lieutenant. It was possible for the officer to spend many years in this rank until the eventual distinction for Lieutenants of eight years’ service came with the establishment of the rank of Lieutenant-Commander. Some ships carried more than one lieutenant. These would be distinguished as third lieutenant. Promotion to the rank of lieutenant depended in many instances on selection by the Admiralty.[3]


The rank of Lieutenant is denoted by two gold stripes. Lieutenants who underwent specialist training have their speciality indicated by an initial, such as Lieutenant (G) for a gunner, or Lieutenant (T) for torpedoes. (N) was for Navigation, (S) for Signals and (I) for Interpreter.

References

  1. Powell, Isabel G. (22 March 2013). "THE EARLY NAVAL LIEUTENANT". The Mariner's Mirror. 12 (9): 358–363. doi:10.1080/00253359.1923.10655245. ISSN 0025-3359.
  2. "The National Archives Trafalgar Ancestors | Glossary". www.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Kew, London: National Archives UK. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  3. "The National Archives Trafalgar Ancestors | Glossary". www.nationalarchives.gov.uk. Kew, London: National Archives UK. Retrieved 20 July 2019.