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Vice Admiral command Flag RN from 1864.png
Flag of a Vice-admiral, Royal Navy.
British Royal Navy OF-8-collected.svg
Insignia shoulder board and Sleeve lace for Vice-admiral
CountryUnited Kingdom
Service branchRoyal Navy
NATO rankOF-8
Non-NATO rank8
Next higher rankAdmiral
Next lower rankRear Admiral
Equivalent ranksLieutenant-General

Vice-Admiral (VAdm) is a very senior flag rank of the British Royal Navy and equates to the NATO rank code OF-8. It is immediately superior to the Rear-Admiral rank and is subordinate to the full Admiral rank.


In 1337 the first known record of the appointment of a "vice-admiral' was granted to a Nicholas Ususmaris, a Genoese recruited in for service in the English Navy, he was made Vice-Admiral of the Aquitaine Fleet. However these appointments were far and few between. There was two further instances of the appointment of Vice-Admirals one to Sir Thomas Drayton who was made Vice-Admiral of the Northern Fleet and the other to Sir Peter Bard who was appointed Vice-Admiral of the Western Fleet both on 28 July 1338.[1]

The Royal Navy has regularly appointed vice-admirals since at least the 16th century, the Navy Royal's Channel Squadron was commanded by a Vice-Admiral in the Channel from 1512 to 1589 and its North Sea Squadron was commanded by the Vice-Admiral in the North Sea from 1543 to 1563.

When the fleet was deployed, the vice-admiral would be in the leading portion or van, acting as the deputy to the admiral. The rank of Vice-Admiral evolved from that of Lieutenant of the Admiralty (1546-1564) that being an officer who acted as secretary to the Lord Admiral of England and lapsed in 1876 but was revived in 1901 by King Edward VII and is now the most senior rank within the Navy.[2] Prior to 1864 the Royal Navy was divided into colored squadrons which determined his career path. The command flags flown by a Vice-Admiral changed a number of times during this period included.[3]

In the Royal Navy, the rank of vice-admiral should be distinguished from the office of Vice-Admiral of England today known as the Vice-Admiral of the United Kingdom, which is an admiralty position usually held by a retired full admiral, and that of the Vice-Admiral of the Coast (1520-1890), a now obsolete office that was a shore based command appointment responsible for naval administration and defence in each of the maritime counties of England.


  1. Tucker, St George (2004). "Introduction". Blackstone's commentaries : with notes of reference to the constitution and laws, of the federal government of the United States, and of the Commonwealth of Virginia; with an appendix to each volume, containing short tracts upon such subjects as appeared necessary to form a connected view of the laws of Virginia as a member of the federal union. Vol. 1 (5 ed.). Clark, New Jersey, United States: Lawbook Exchange Ltd. p. xxxii. ISBN 9781886363168.
  2. "History of Naval Ranks and Rates". National Museum of the Royal New Zealand Navy. 10 November 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  3. 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.