Grand admiral

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Grand admiral is a historic naval rank, the highest rank in the several European navies that used it. It is best known for its use in Germany as Großadmiral. A comparable rank in modern navies is that of fleet admiral.

Grand admirals in individual navies[edit]


In Bourbon Restoration France, the rank was an honorific one equivalent to that of marshal in the French Army.


Grand admiral
Kriegsmarine-Großadmiral (s).gif Kriegsmarine-Großadmiral.svg
Shoulder board and sleeve
Kriegsmarine Grossadmiral-Flag 1945.svg
Generaladmiral rank flag
Country German Empire
 Nazi Germany
Service branch Imperial German Navy
NATO rankOF-10
Non-NATO rankO-11
Next higher rankNone
Next lower rankGeneraladmiral
Equivalent ranksGeneralfeldmarschall

In the Imperial German Navy, and later in the Kriegsmarine, the rank Großadmiral was the equivalent of a British admiral of the fleet or a United States fleet admiral; as a five-star rank (OF-10). Like field marshals its holders were authorised to carry a baton.[1]

The rank was created in 1901 and discontinued in 1945, after eight men were promoted to it. The next most junior rank was Generaladmiral (admiral-general).

Imperial Germany[edit]

Before and during World War I, the following were made grand admirals of the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine):

Nazi Germany[edit]

Großadmiral was the most senior rank of the Kriegsmarine, immediately senior to Generaladmiral. There were no more grand admirals until 1939. The following men were made grand admirals during the Nazi regime:

  • Erich Raeder, then-Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine, was made a grand admiral on 1 April 1939.
  • Karl Dönitz, commander of the U-Boat fleet, was made a grand admiral on 30 January 1943 upon succeeding Raeder as Commander-in-Chief.


Insignia of an Austrian Großadmiral
sleeve insignia
command post flag
Corps colour (Navy blue)

Anton Haus, commander of the Austro-Hungarian navy for part of World War I, was given the title of Großadmiral in 1916. No other active-duty officer (except members of the Imperial family) was ever given this rank.


The rank of grand admiral (Italian: grand'ammiraglio) was created by Benito Mussolini in 1924. It was established primarily to honour Paolo Thaon di Revel, who had been head of the Italian Regia Marina during World War I — he was the only person to be awarded the rank. It was equivalent to marshal of Italy in the army and also marshal of the Air Force.


Under the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko in the Republic of Zaire, Mavua Mudima, the commander of the Zairian navy and the country's defense minister from 1994 to 1997, held the rank of "grand admiral"[3][4] even though the Zairian navy only consisted of some small patrol and river boats.[5]

Admiral Baudoin Liwanga, former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) from 2002 to 2004, was listed as being a Grand Admiral.[6]

In fiction[edit]

Among the several grand admirals appearing in fiction and science fiction, one notable figure is Grand Admiral Thrawn of the Star Wars science fiction franchise.[7]


  1. ^ BROCKHAUS, The encyclopedia in 24 volumes (1796–2001), Volume 9: 3-7653-3660-2, page 164; definition: «Großadmiral»
  2. ^ "Latest intelligence - The German Emperor and the King". The Times (36806). London. 28 June 1902. p. 5.
  3. ^ Duke, Lynne (16 December 1997). Ex-Mobutu aides arrested. Washington Post. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  4. ^ Khan, Shaharyan (2000). The Shallow Graves of Rwanda. I.B. Tauris. p. 75. ISBN 978-1860646164.
  5. ^ Prunier, Gerard (2008). Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe. Oxford University Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0199705832.
  6. ^ DRC Mining Week 2018. 25 June 2018.
  7. ^ Trendacosta, Katharine. "Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn and Why Is His Appearance in Star Wars Rebels So Exciting?". io9.