Commodore (USN)
Commodore was an early title and later a rank
Military rank
Military rank is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or civil institutions organized along military lines. Usually, uniforms denote the bearer's rank by particular insignia affixed to the uniforms...

 in the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

 and a current honorary title in the U.S. Navy with an intricate history. Because the U.S. Congress was originally unwilling to authorize more than four ranks (captain, master commandant, lieutenant, and midshipman) until 1862, considerable importance was attached to the title of commodore. Like its Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 counterpart at the time, the U.S. Navy commodore was not a higher rank, but a temporary assignment for Navy officers, as Herman Melville
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet. He is best known for his novel Moby-Dick and the posthumous novella Billy Budd....

 wrote in his 1850 novel, White-Jacket
White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War, usually referred to as White-Jacket, is an 1850 novel by Herman Melville first published in England on January 23 by Richard Bentley and in the U.S...

An American commodore in the early period, like an English commodore or a French chef d'escadre
Chef d'escadre
In the ancien Régime French Navy, the rank of chef d'escadre was equivalent to the present-day rank of rear admiral. It was replaced in 1791 by the rank of "contre-amiral" ....

, was an officer (generally but not exclusively a captain) assigned temporary command of more than one ship. He continued his permanent or regular rank during the assignment. Once employed as a commodore, however, many jealously held onto the impressive title after their qualifying assignment ended. The Navy Department tried to discourage such continuing usage because it led to confusion and unnecessary rivalries.

Commodore was established as a temporary rank in the U.S. Navy during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and was discontinued in 1945, its previous incumbents having all been advanced to Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

. Nearly forty years later, it was reinstated as an official rank with a pay grade of O-7, replacing the previously titled Rear Admiral (lower half), which were U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard flag officers paid at the one-star rank of an O-7, but who wore the two-star rank insignia of an O-8. In 1982, following years of objections and complaints by the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps, the rank of Commodore was again rescinded in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard. Later that year, the O-7 paygrade in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard was again redesignated as Rear Admiral (lower half), but with the single star for collar insignia and applicable shoulder insignia (i.e., flight suits, jackets, etc.), single silver star on top of solid gold background shoulder board insignia, and a single broad gold sleeve stripe insignia for dress blue uniforms.


The practice was not reserved to captains in the earlier days. Captain Isaac Hull
Isaac Hull
-External links:* *...

, chafing at not being able to progress further in rank, wrote in 1814 that, if no admirals were to be authorized, something should be done to prevent "every midshipman that has command of a gunboat on a separate station taking upon himself the name of Commodore."

Eventually the title of commodore was defined more strictly, and was reserved for captains so designated by the Navy Department, although the practice of retaining the title for life added some confusion. In 1857, Congress established the grade of Flag Officer
Flag Officer
A flag officer is a commissioned officer in a nation's armed forces senior enough to be entitled to fly a flag to mark where the officer exercises command. The term usually refers to the senior officers in an English-speaking nation's navy, specifically those who hold any of the admiral ranks; in...

. This generic title was intended "to promote the efficiency of the Navy," but differed little from the previous practice. Like the courtesy-title commodores, "flag officers" reverted to captain once their squadron command assignment was completed.

Civil War

Because of the acute need for officers at the beginning of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, naval tradition was ignored and Commodore became for the first time a permanent commissioned rank in the U.S. Navy. Eighteen commodores were authorized on July 16, 1862. The rank title also lost its "line command" status when, in 1863, the Chiefs of the Bureaus of Medicine and Surgery, Provisions and Clothing, Steam Engineering, and Construction and Repair were given the rank of Commodore.

Flag officer

The rank of Commodore continued in the Navy until 1899, when the Naval Personnel Act made all Commodores into Rear Admirals. The reason, according to Laws Relating to the Navy, 1919, was "... on account of international relationships, the consideration of which caused the Navy Department to regard the complications confronting it as inimical to the honor and dignity of this nation, because of the adverse effect upon its high ranking representatives in their association with foreign officers." U.S. Navy Commodores were not being treated as flag-level officers by other navies, or given the respect the Navy Department thought was their due.

As it would have been expensive to increase the pay of all the former Commodores to the level of Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

s, the U.S. Congress specified that the lower half of the Rear Admiral list have pay equal to Brigadier General
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

s of the Army. If there were an odd number of Rear Admirals, the lower half of the list was to be the larger. All Rear Admirals, upper or lower half, were equal to Major Generals, flew a blue flag with the requisite number of stars instead of a broad pennant, and were entitled to a thirteen gun salute. The U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 later held that the rank of Commodore had been removed from the U.S. Navy, leaving it without a rank equivalent to Brigadier General. This act disgruntled Brigadier Generals, who could now be outranked by officers who were their juniors in terms of service. This was a point of inter-service controversy
Interservice rivalry
Interservice rivalry is a military term referring to rivalries that can arise between different branches of a country's armed forces, such as between a nation's land forces , naval and air forces. It also applies to the rivalries between a country's intelligence services, Central Intelligence...

, and in 1916 the U.S. Army made its Brigadier Generals equivalent to Rear Admirals (lower half). Thus, Rear Admirals (upper half) were equal to Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...


World War II

During the huge expansion of the U.S. Navy during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Department of the Navy was concerned that the appointment of more flag officers would create a glut of admirals whenever peacetime was achieved. However, some Naval and Coast Guard captains were holding commands of significantly higher responsibility than they had earlier, and this needed to be recognized. The COMINCH of the U.S. Navy and Chief of Naval Operations
Chief of Naval Operations
The Chief of Naval Operations is a statutory office held by a four-star admiral in the United States Navy, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Navy. The office is a military adviser and deputy to the Secretary of the Navy...

, four-star admiral Ernest J. King, proposed bringing back the older rank of "Commodore" for these officers. President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt , also known by his initials, FDR, was the 32nd President of the United States and a central figure in world events during the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of worldwide economic crisis and world war...

 agreed, although his executive order specified that this rank should be restricted to officers of the line, and not for logistics officers, training officers, medical officers, dental officers, legal officers, chaplains, and so forth.

The one-star officer rank for the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard was re-established in April 1943 with the title of "Commodore". In actual practice, some officers on Admiral's staffs were also promoted to the rank of commodore. By the end of the War in the Pacific
War In The Pacific
War in the Pacific is a 2004 two-player turn-based computer war game published by Matrix games. It is a very large, complex, and detailed simulation of the Pacific Theatre of World War II, at both the operational and strategic level....

 in August 1945, there were over 100 commodores in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. (It needs to be understood that during World War II, the much-expanded U.S. Coast Guard was involved in combat operations in both anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare is a branch of naval warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, or other submarines to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines....

 and amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare
Amphibious warfare is the use of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to project military power ashore. In previous eras it stood as the primary method of delivering troops to non-contiguous enemy-held terrain...

, thousands of miles away from home, and not just in its usual role of defending the coasts of the United States, detaining smugglers, lifesaving, and search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...


Following World War II, and with the rapid drawdown in size of both the Navy and the Coast Guard, very few of the wartime commodores were ever promoted to rear admiral. All promotions to the rank of commodore ceased in 1947, and nearly all of the commodores who had held the one-star rank had either been promoted to rear admiral or retired from the Navy by 1950.

1982 Commodore Admiral/1983 Rear Admiral (lower half)

Following continued dissatisfaction by U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force officers with the U.S. Navy's and the U.S. Coast Guard's policy of honoring its rear admirals (lower half), who received the pay grade of O-7 with the rank insignia of two-star admirals O-8, the one-star officer's rank and insignia for Navy and Coast Guard officers was re-established once again in 1982, with the initial title of Commodore Admiral
Commodore Admiral
Commodore Admiral was a short lived military rank of the United States Navy that existed for less than 11 months during the year 1982. The rank of Commodore Admiral was established as the Navy's one-star admiral rank after nearly forty years of all Navy captains receiving promotion directly to the...


In 1983, following numerous protests by seagoing officers to the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Coast Guard
Commandant of the Coast Guard
The Commandant of the United States Coast Guard is the highest ranking member of the United States Coast Guard. The Commandant is normally the only four-star Admiral in the Coast Guard and is appointed for a four-year term by the President of the United States upon confirmation by the United...

 stating that this new title was both unwieldy and confusing, the rank of "commodore admiral" was simplified to "commodore".

However, the title (not the rank) of "Commodore" had also been in use by the U.S. Navy since at least the 1950s as a "position title" for senior naval captains who commanded Destroyer Squadrons, Submarine Squadrons, Amphibious Squadrons, Patrol Boat Flotillas, Patrol Hydrofoil Missile Ship Squadrons, Special Warfare Groups, Air Groups and Air Wings (other than those officers commanding Carrier Air Groups/Carrier Air Wings, who were historically known and referred to as "CAGs"), Construction Regiments and other large sea-going commands consisting of multiple ships, submarines, aviation squadrons, etc. In contrast, the U.S. Coast Guard had never previously used the title.

Later in 1983, to prevent further confusion between the title of Commodore and the actual rank, the one-star U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard admiral rank was changed back to its original O-7 pay grade title of Rear Admiral (Lower Half). From that point on, Commodore has remained a title for U.S. Navy Captains in command of more than a single unit (other than Captains commanding Carrier Air Wings, who retained their traditional title of "CAG") and all U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard one-star admirals were subsequently referred to as Rear Admiral (Lower Half).

From 1983 to 2007, in the Navy and Coast Guard all Rear Admirals (Lower Half) and (Upper Half), O-7 and O-8 respectively, used the same acronym "RADM" in written correspondence, and as an abbreviated title. Because this still created confusion, in and out of the sea services, the abbreviation for Rear Admiral (Lower Half) was adjusted to "RDML" by the Chief of Naval Operations and the Commandant of the Coast Guard in July 2007.

Military (USN and USCG)

The U.S. Navy no longer maintains a rank of Commodore, but the term has survived as a title. Modern-day Commodores in the U.S. Navy are senior Captains
Captain (naval)
Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The NATO rank code is OF-5, equivalent to an army full colonel....

 in major operational command of functional Air Wings or Air Groups (exclusive of Carrier Air Wing
Carrier Air Wing
This article is about the game. For the naval unit, please see Carrier Air Wing.Carrier Air Wing, released in Japan as , is a 1990 side scrolling shooting game released for the CP System arcade hardware by Capcom. It is the spiritual sequel to U.N. Squadron, released during the previous year...

s); Destroyer Squadrons; Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft Wings; Amphibious Squadrons; Mine Countermeasures Squadrons; Riverine Squadrons; Submarine Squadrons; Coastal Warfare Groups; Special Warfare (SEAL
United States Navy SEALs
The United States Navy's Sea, Air and Land Teams, commonly known as Navy SEALs, are the U.S. Navy's principal special operations force and a part of the Naval Special Warfare Command as well as the maritime component of the United States Special Operations Command.The acronym is derived from their...

) Groups; Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Groups; and Naval Construction Regiments. With the exception of the Naval Construction Regiments commanded by senior Captains of the U.S. Navy's Civil Engineer Corps
Civil Engineer Corps
The Civil Engineer Corps is a staff corps of the United States Navy. CEC officers are professional engineers and architects, acquisitions specialists and Seabee Combat Warfare Officers. They are responsible for executing and managing the planning, design, acquisition, construction, operation, and...

, all others are senior Captains who are warfare-qualified unrestricted line (URL) officers in that combat speciality (i.e., Naval Aviator
Naval Aviator
A United States Naval Aviator is a qualified pilot in the United States Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard.-Naming Conventions:Most Naval Aviators are Unrestricted Line Officers; however, a small number of Limited Duty Officers and Chief Warrant Officers are also trained as Naval Aviators.Until 1981...

s and Naval Flight Officer
Naval Flight Officer
A Naval Flight Officer is an aeronautically designated commissioned officer in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps that specializes in airborne weapons and sensor systems. NFOs are not pilots per se, but they may perform many "co-pilot" functions, depending on the type of aircraft...

s commanding air wings or air groups, Surface Warfare Officers commanding destroyer squadrons, SEAL
Seal commonly refers to:* Pinniped, a diverse group of semi-aquatic marine mammals many of which are commonly called seals* Seal , a device which helps prevent leakage, contain pressure, or exclude contamination where two systems join...

 Officers commanding special warfare groups, etc.).

Such officers employ the term "Commander" in their organizational command title, this in keeping with the naval tradition of officers commanding a single ship, unit or installation being referred to as a "Commanding Officer" or "CO," while those Captains and Flag Officers commanding multiple ships, multiple aviation squadrons, etc., are known as a "Commander." With the exception of Commanders of Carrier Air Wings, Captains in this latter category are referred to, both orally and in correspondence, as "Commodore," but continue to wear the rank insignia of a Captain. Captains in command of Carrier Air Wings continue to use the traditional title of "CAG" which dates from when these units were known as Carrier Air Groups.

Captains holding a Commodore billet also rate a blue and white broad pennant, known as a command pennant, which is normally flown from their headquarters facilities ashore and/or from ships on which they are embarked. This swallow-tailed pennant has a white field bounded by two horizontal blue stripes, with the numerical designation or the initials of the command title in blue centered on the white field.

The U.S. Coast Guard presently designates the Captain commanding Patrol Forces Southwest Asia as "Commodore." This usage mirrors the USN's use of the title "Commodore."

Coast Guard Auxiliary

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary also employs variants of the title of Commodore. Members of the Auxiliary are civilian volunteers that do not have military rank, but do wear modified U.S. Coast Guard officer uniforms and military style officer rank insignia to indicate office. Auxiliary officers who have reached flag positions equivalent to active and reserve Rear Admirals and Vice Admirals, use the term Commodore (e.g., District Commodore, National Directorate Commodore, National Commodore, etc.). They, including the National Chief of Staff, may permanently append the title Commodore, sometimes abbreviated COMO, to their names (e.g., Commodore James A. Smith, National Commodore; or COMO Jim Smith, (NACO)).

Popular usage

Civilian yacht club
Yacht club
A yacht club is a sports club specifically related to sailing and yachting.-Description:Yacht Clubs are mostly located by the sea, although there are some that have been established at a lake or riverside locations...

s also tend to use the title for their leaders, along with "vice commodore" and "rear commodore" in the same manner as "vice president."

See also

  • Air Commodore
    Air Commodore
    Air commodore is an air-officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force...

  • Commodore (rank)
    Commodore (rank)
    Commodore is a military rank used in many navies that is superior to a navy captain, but below a rear admiral. Non-English-speaking nations often use the rank of flotilla admiral or counter admiral as an equivalent .It is often regarded as a one-star rank with a NATO code of OF-6, but is not always...

  • Commodore-in-Chief
    Commodore-in-Chief is an honorary Royal Navy appointment bestowed by the Queen on various members of the Royal Family on 8 August 2006.Previously there have been honorary Royal Colonels in the British Army and honorary Air Commodores in the Royal Air Force, but no parallel affiliations with the...

  • Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel
    Naval Academy Jewish Chapel
    The Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel is the Jewish chapel at the United States Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Maryland. The center is named in honor of Commodore Uriah P. Levy , the first Jewish commodore in the United States Navy, who is famous for refusing to flog his sailors...

     and United States Naval Academy#Halls and principal buildings (at "Commodore Uriah P. Levy Center and Jewish Chapel")
  • Fleet Captain
    Fleet captain
    Fleet Captain is a rare military title that may be bestowed upon senior naval captains for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is to temporarily take command of more than one vessel. The rank can, therefore, be interpreted as a close equivalent to Commodore or to the 19th century rank...

  • Senior Captain
    Senior Captain
    Senior Captain is a rare military rank which is used in some countries armed forces.-Army:In some armies of the world, the senior captain is a rank between a regular Captain and a Major. The rank is often only found in armies and air forces...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.