Admiral of the fleet
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|Naval officer ranks|
An admiral of the fleet or fleet admiral (sometimes also known as admiral of the navy or grand admiral) is a military naval officer of the highest rank. In many nations the rank is reserved for wartime or ceremonial appointments. It is usually a rank above admiral (which is now usually the highest rank in peace-time for officers in active service), and is often held by the most senior admiral of an entire naval service.
It is also a generic term for a senior admiral in command of a large group of ships, comprising a fleet or, in some cases, a group of fleets. If actually a rank its name can vary depending on the country. In addition to 'fleet admiral' and 'admiral of the fleet', such rank names include 'admiral of the navy' and 'grand admiral'.[Note 1]
It ranks above vice admiral, rear admiral and usually full admiral, and is usually given to a senior admiral commanding multiple fleets as opposed to just one fleet. It is often classified in NATO nations as a five-star rank.
The title admiral of the fleet can trace its origins to the Middle Ages, where the title was typically granted to a nobleman who was appointed by a monarch to raise and command a navy for a specific campaign.
Usage in specific countries
The following articles contain specific information on the rank as it pertains to individual countries:
- Admiral of the fleet (Australia)
- Admiral flote (Croatia)
- Großadmiral (Germany and Austria-Hungary)
- Amiral de France or amiral de la flotte (France)[Note 2]
- Archinavarchos (Greece)
- Admiral of the fleet (India)
- Grande ammiraglio (Italy)
- Gensui-kaigun-taishō (Imperial Japan)
- Wonsu (South Korea)
- Laksamana armada (Malaysia)
- Admiral of the fleet (Nigeria)
- Admiraal (Netherlands)
- Admiral of the fleet (New Zealand)
- Almirante da armada (Portugal)
- Admiral of the fleet (Russia)
- Capitán general de la real armada española (Spain)
- Chom phon ruea (Thailand)
- Büyük Amiral (Turkey)
- Admiral flote (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia)
- Admiral of the fleet (United Kingdom)
- Fleet admiral (United States)
- Admiral of the Navy (United States) (1903-1917)
- Mushir (Middle East)
Ambiguity exists when translating the French amiral into English (into admiral of the fleet or admiral). A French title of amiral de la flotte, outranking a full admiral was invented in 1939 for Darlan, who was the only person in French history to hold that title.
Before the fall of the monarchy in 1952, the Egyptian Navy had the equivalent rank of sayed elbehar elazam.
In the Turkish Navy, the corresponding rank büyük amiral, literally meaning "grand admiral", can only be bestowed by the National Assembly, and only given to an admiral who leads the navy successfully in and out of a war, criteria tougher than those for equivalent ranks. No one has ever been bestowed this rank yet in the republican era. During the period of the Ottoman Empire, commanders of the navy carried the rank of kapudan-i derya as equivalent.
The rank also exists or has existed (on paper at least) in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Nigeria, Oman and Pakistan, although not all of these countries have actually ever bestowed the rank on an individual.
- In some navies, however, such as the German Kriegsmarine during World War II, "admiral of the navy" has been considered a higher rank than "admiral of the fleet" or its equivalent.
- Amiral de France is not a rank but a dignity. The last amiral de France was François Thomas Tréhouart in 1869. This dignity remains fully valid today - Article 19 of Law No. 2005-270 of 24 March 2005 on the general status of the military,  "the title of Marshal of France and that of Admiral of France, is a dignity in the state". It is noteworthy that the French title of amiral de la flotte was also used in place of amiral de France, and was exceptionally established in 1939 for François Darlan, who is the only person in the history of France to have held this literal and accurate title. It was intended to prevent Vice-Admiral Darlan (who held the highest rank in the French navy) being junior in rank to his allied counterparts who held the rank of admiral of the fleet
- Francis E. McMurtrie and Raymond V.B. Blackman (editors), Jane's Fighting Ships 1949-50. New York: The McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1949.