From Naval History Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search
Rear Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png
Command Flag of a Rear-Admiral.
British Royal Navy OF-7-collected.svg
Insignia shoulder board and Sleeve lace for Rear admiral
CountryUnited Kingdom
Service branchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom from 1801.png Royal Navy
NATO rankOF-7
Non-NATO rank7
Formationc.1558. formal 1620-present
Next higher rankVice-Admiral
Next lower rankCommodore
Equivalent ranks

Rear-Admiral (RAdm) is currently a flag officer rank of the Royal Navy. It is immediately superior to commodore and is subordinate to a Vice Admiral. It is a two-star rank and has a NATO ranking code of OF-7. It was was formally established as a flag rank of the Navy Royal in 1620.[1]


The rank originated in the Age of Sail and was first introduced in the Tudor Period during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603), when the Navy Royal was divided into manageable formations of three squadrons, though in 1596 there were four squadrons. The center squadron was commanded by an Admiral, whilst the front squadron was commanded by his second in command a Vice Admiral and finally the rear squadron was commanded by his third in command a Rear-Admiral. In 1620 as the Navy Royal was expanding the existing system was changed to include three squadrons,but now each squadron was divided into three sub divisions. Assigned to each of these squadrons were flag officers who were separated in terms of their seniority by the use of coloured flags;[2] under this system the most senior rear-admiral rank was a Rear-Admiral of the Red below him came the Rear-Admiral of the White and finally the Rear-Admiral of the Blue; in effect the squadrons provided a system of designating the nine or ten most senior admirals of the Royal Navy until the system was abolished in 1864.[3] This is when the current rank of Rear Admiral was formally established. The Royal Navy rank of rear admiral should be distinguished from the office of Rear-Admiral of the United Kingdom, which is an Admiralty position usually held by a senior (and possibly retired) "full" admiral.


  1. "Naval Ranks NMRN Portsmouth: Flag Rank". Portsmouth, England: National Museum of the Royal Navy. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  2. Perrin, W. G. (William Gordon) (1922). "IV:Flags of Command". British flags, their early history, and their development at sea; with an account of the origin of the flag as a national device. Cambridge, England: Cambridge : The University Press. pp. 73–109.
  3. "The National Archives:Trafalgar Ancestors,Glossary, Admiral". Kew, London, England: The National Archives UK. Retrieved 27 February 2019.