Navy Ranks

richard_mcmunn_entrepreneurNavy ranks are commissioned, non-commissioned, and designated for women because there are certain positions not open to women in the Navy like other military branches. The pay and duties will differ based on ranking and commission.

Commissioned Officers

Flag rank officers and commissioned officers are below. Commissioned officers mean they have command posts and are of superior ranking. Additionally commission is given by a sovereign power that charges the person with responsibilities and duties. There are 10 ranks under this heading.

  • Admiral of the Fleet- this is a flag rank officer and the highest possible naval rank a candidate could reach. Currently the rank is not used anymore, but anyone prior to the 1990s who attained the rank are still able to use it.Admiral of the fleet
  • Admiral- today admiral is still used and is now the highest naval rank. This person runs the ship and fleet, and may have a vice admiral and rear admiral on board to help. The position is a flag rank. Pay rate is going to be up to £90,100.
  • Vice Admiral- the rank below admiral and can also run the ship, with a flag rank. The vice admiral typically helps with the brunt of the battle leading the fleet and assisting the admiral. Pay is close to £90,000.
  • Rear Admiral- a person of this rank has two stars and can command an entire ship. The rear admiral tends to be in the centre ship along with the vice and admiral, but commands the rear guard of the squadron. Pay is usually around £90,000.
  • Commodore– this is a junior flag rank position and can command a part of the fleet or take on large tasks. Typically a one star rank and a replacement or help for the rear admiral depending on whether a fleet currently has a rear admiral. Pay is typically the same.
  • Captain– a commissioned officer the captain ranking has 1st to 5th rate or stars. The captain is responsible for the crew and ship in terms of wellbeing, discipline, health, clothing, feeding, log books, and can delegate authority to other commissioned officers. Pay is usually not in a range and close to £89,400.
  • Commander– typically this rank is a second in command for the captain although they were also given smaller vessel commands throughout history. At first the position was just Lieutenant, but commander and lieutenant commander was formed. Pay is £67,000 to £77,600.
  • Lieutenant-Commander– this ranking typically commands the smaller vessels now as first lieutenant commanders. This is a promotion after eight years of service. The range is £47,700 to £57,200.
  • Lieutenant– while able to organise the ship and take on some administration for the captain this post is responsible for making sure the crew carries out their individual duties. The main post is to be in charge of watches. It takes six years at sea before the lieutenant ranking can be obtained. Earnings are between £47,700 and £57,200.
  • Sublieutenant/Master’s Mates- this is a junior commissioned rank that serves as a route to reach lieutenant. Duties are similar to lieutenant such as monitoring the crew, but it is a commissioned position and pay is higher than senior petty officer rankings. Earnings are usually in the range of £37,915 to £45,090 per year.


The following positions are that of non-commissioned personnel. These ranks are enlisted in which promotion is by authority.

  • Warrant Officer– there are three classes of warrant offers which determines the responsibilities one must follow. Typically warrant officers are standing officers or reserve personnel that do not command, but help with the day to day running of the ship when at sea. The other option is to be an engineer. They used to be surgeon, purser, boatswain, carpenter and gunner, but some of these old positions made it difficult to get commissions or promotions. Pay is up to £47,428.
  • Chief Petty Officer– this is a senior ranking among petty officers. This person oversees petty officers. Sometimes this ranking is referred to as midshipmen.
  • Chaplain– has varied from commissioned rank to non-commissioned rank. It is a religious adviser for Navy personnel. Pay may be as much as £47,400
  • Petty Officer– once called boatswain’s mates, cooks, armourers, surgeon’s mates, clerks, and sail makers this is the ranking that runs the ship in a variety of capacities from cleaning, maintenance to machinery and food. This is an entry level into the Navy therefore rate of pay starts at £14,300 and may increase to at most £30,000 in this ranking.

Women’s Ranks

All ranks for women are in the command capacity with varying degrees of responsibilities such as helping superior command to being a commander/commandant of the fleet. The commandant can be second in command of a vessel.  

  • Commandant– second in command of the ship.
  • Superintendent– much like commander positions in which the candidate will help the captain.
  • Chief Officer– like a warrant officer in a commissioned position. Handles watches, some command, and helps run the crew.
  • First Officer- a civil service rank such as lieutenant commander for men. This position is able to handle smaller vessels.
  • Second Officer– another lieutenant or sub-lieutenant ranking. Smaller vessel handling and crew management are part of the duties.
  • Third Officer– typically sub-lieutenant positions. This means command of crews and watches.

Pay Discussion

The pay a person of Navy rank earns can differ widely based on the position they hold. Non-commissioned personnel start out at a much lower pay scale, which cannot increase beyond £50,000 per year until the person obtains a commissioned rank. Commissioned ranks require certain years in service before they can be obtained. Women will earn nearly the same in pay for commissioned rankings as men, but there is a slight skew towards the lower end of the pay range for commissioned officers.


Navy reservists are also going to hold positions during times of war. Reservists wear the same uniforms and have the same duties as enlisted men and women.