A flotilla (from Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

, meaning a small flota (fleet
Naval fleet
A fleet, or naval fleet, is a large formation of warships, and the largest formation in any navy. A fleet at sea is the direct equivalent of an army on land....

) of ships, and this from French flotte), or naval flotilla, is a formation
Tactical formation
A tactical formation is the arrangement or deployment of moving military forces such as infantry, cavalry, AFVs, military aircraft, or naval vessels...

 of small warship
A warship is a ship that is built and primarily intended for combat. Warships are usually built in a completely different way from merchant ships. As well as being armed, warships are designed to withstand damage and are usually faster and more maneuvrable than merchant ships...

s that may be part of a larger fleet. A flotilla is usually composed of a homogeneous group of the same class
Ship class
A ship class is a group of ships of a similar design. This is distinct from a ship-type, which might reflect a similarity of tonnage or intended use. For example, the is a nuclear aircraft carrier of the Nimitz class....

 of warship, such as frigates, destroyers, torpedo boats, submarines, gunboats, or minesweepers
Minesweeper (ship)
A minesweeper is a small naval warship designed to counter the threat posed by naval mines. Minesweepers generally detect then neutralize mines in advance of other naval operations.-History:...

. Groups of larger warships are usually called squadrons
Squadron (naval)
A squadron, or naval squadron, is a unit of 3-4 major warships, transport ships, submarines, or sometimes small craft that may be part of a larger task force or a fleet...

, but similar units of non-capital ships may be called squadrons in some places and times, and flotillas in others.

A flotilla is usually commanded by a 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"...

, a Commodore
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...

 or a Captain
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....

, depending on the importance of the command (a Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

 would normally command a squadron). A flotilla is often divided into two or more divisions, each of which might be commanded by the most senior Commander
Commander is a naval rank which is also sometimes used as a military title depending on the individual customs of a given military service. Commander is also used as a rank or title in some organizations outside of the armed forces, particularly in police and law enforcement.-Commander as a naval...

. A flotilla is often, but not necessarily, a permanent formation.

In modern navies, flotillas have tended to become administrative units containing several squadrons
Squadron (naval)
A squadron, or naval squadron, is a unit of 3-4 major warships, transport ships, submarines, or sometimes small craft that may be part of a larger task force or a fleet...

. As warships have grown larger, the term squadron has gradually replaced the term flotilla for formation
Formation may refer to:* Formation flying, aerobatics performed with several aircraft* Formation , a high-level military organization* Tactical formation, the physical deployment of military forces-Sports:...

s of destroyers, frigates and submarines in many navies.

A naval flotilla has no direct equivalent on land, but is, perhaps, the rough equivalent in value of a brigade
A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

 or regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...


US Coast Guard

In the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
United States Coast Guard Auxiliary
The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer component of the United States Coast Guard and was established on June 23, 1939 by an act of Congress as the United States Coast Guard Reserve, and was re-designated as the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary on February 19, 1941...

, a Flotilla is the basic organizational unit and consists of members at a local level where the majority of the work of the Auxiliary is done. A Flotilla is led by an elected Flotilla Commander assisted by an elected Vice Flotilla Commander, who is in turn assisted by appointed Flotilla Staff Officers. A Coast Guard Auxiliary Division consists of multiple Flotillas and a District consists of multiple Divisions. Auxiliary Districts are organized along Coast Guard District lines and are administered by a Coast Guard officer (usually a Commander or Captain) who is called the Director of the Auxiliary.

Russian Navy

In the Russian Navy
Imperial Russian Navy
The Imperial Russian Navy refers to the Tsarist fleets prior to the February Revolution.-First Romanovs:Under Tsar Mikhail Feodorovich, construction of the first three-masted ship, actually built within Russia, was completed in 1636. It was built in Balakhna by Danish shipbuilders from Holstein...

, the word flotilla has tended to be used for "brown-water
Brown-water navy
Brown-water navy is a term that originated in the United States Navy, referring to the small gunboats and patrol boats used in rivers, along with some of the larger ships that supported them as "mother ships," from which they operated...

" naval units - those operating not in the oceans and real seas, but in inland seas or rivers. Among the former are the present-day Caspian Flotilla
Caspian Flotilla
The Caspian Flotilla is the oldest Russian military flotilla, stationed in the Caspian Sea. It was awarded the Order of the Red Banner in 1945.-Establishment:...

, the early 20th century Satakundskaya Flotilla
Satakundskaya Flotilla
The Satakundskaya Flotilla was a brown-water navy unit of the Imperial Russian Navy, operating on Lake Näsijärvi, Finland, during the First World War from spring 1916 until winter 1917. In Finnish sources, the unit is often called Satakunta Fleet...

, or the Aral Flotilla of the 1850s; among the latter, the Don Military Flotilla
Don Military Flotilla
The Don Military Flotilla was established in 1723 in Tavrov for countering Turkish vessels in the Sea of Azov. By 1735, the Russians had built 15 prams , some 60 galleys and other ships...

 (which was created several times over more than 200 years), the Red Volga Flotilla, which participated in the Kazan Operation
Kazan Operation
Kazan Operation was the Red Army's offensive against the Czechoslovak Legion and the People Army of Komuch during the Russian Civil War.- Background :...

 during Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

, or the Danube Military Flotilla. In the 18th century, the term also applied to the comparatively small fleets operating on those seas where Russia did not have much naval presence yet, e.g. the Okhotsk Flotilla.

Non-military Use

The word flotilla has been at times used to refer to a small fleet of vessels, commercial or otherwise. On May 31, 2010, the word flotilla became a trending topic
Trending topic
A trending topic is a word, phrase or topic that is posted multiple times on the social networking and microblogging service Twitter. Trending topics become popular either through a concerted effort by users or because of an event that prompts people to talk about one specific topic...

 on Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as "tweets".Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched that July...

, in response to the Gaza flotilla raid
Gaza flotilla raid
The Gaza flotilla raid was a military operation by Israel against six ships of the "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" on 31 May 2010 in international waters of the Mediterranean Sea...


External links

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