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Commodore is a rank and function designation in shipping and in military aviation .

Origin of the term

The name Commodore originated in the Dutch Navy towards the end of the 17th century. It referred to an officer who led a ship formation without having the rank of admiral .

In the Dutch navy during the first sea war against England , the distribution of the ranks of admirals was strictly regulated. In this war, however, more squadron leaders were needed than there were admirals. In order not to violate the prerogatives of the provinces concerned, the Commodore was introduced.

One of the most famous future admirals of the Netherlands, Michiel de Ruyter , started out as a Commodore in this war.

Naval Forces and Shipping

This meaning of a squadron commodore has been preserved in the parlance of many navies to this day. In this respect, the designation Commodore is at the same time a functional designation as leader of an association and a rank between the ranks of a captain at sea and that of the rear admiral as the lowest flag officer . In some navies, however, the commodore is already a flag officer. In some navies the rank is or has been awarded permanently as a rank, in others only temporarily for the duration of a command or war.

Great Britain

UK Navy OF6

In the British Royal Navy , the title of Commodore was introduced in 1690 as a designation of the oldest commander in the captaincy of a squadron , without representing a rank of his own.

In 1747 it was determined that a Commodore corresponds to the brigadier in the army.

In 1805 the rank of commodore was formally created and a distinction was made between first and second class commodores. The former had at least one captain corresponding to the rank of sea ​​captain and were paid like rear admirals. Second-class Commodores commanded their own ship and the subordinate unit at the same time and in fact held the rank of captain. Before 1862, Commodore was not a rank, but an honorary title. Today Commodore denotes both a rank below the flag officers and a position such as B. Commodore Faslane Flotilla .

The Air Commodore (Air Cdre) is a rank in the Royal Air Force . It also occurs in the air forces of other states whose rank system was influenced by the British system (India, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan).


Komandor Poland

In the Polish Navy there has been the rank of Komandor ( Polish Komandor ) in the rank of captain at sea (OF-5) since it was founded after the First World War .

United States

In the United States Navy , the term was used during the War of Independence as an honorary title for commanders in the captain's rank who were also subordinate to other ships or who had special responsibility.

In 1862 the rank of Commodore was introduced, which lasted until 1899. The hallmarks of a Commodore were a broad gold sleeve stripe on the uniform and, as a command symbol, a double stand or broad pennant . These marks were adopted in many navies.

After 1899, the rank was only awarded to retiring naval officers with the rank of captain who had participated in the civil war of 1861-1865.

In 1943 the designation was reintroduced as a temporary rank, but was abolished again in 1950.

In 1982, the name Commodore Admiral was briefly introduced as the new lowest admiral rank and was changed to Rear Admiral (Lower Half) in 1983 . Currently the term is not officially used.


The French Navy has no equivalent between the sea captain (capitaine de vaisseau) and the rear admiral (contre-amiral). The French rear admiral, however, corresponds to the flotilla admiral of other naval forces and is therefore roughly equivalent to the commodore.


Imperial Navy

Badge of rank Commodore, Navy
Captain of the Navy of the Navy.png
Shoulder piece

In the Imperial Navy , the Commodore was the service of a sea ​​captain , who was deployed as the commander of a (smaller) ship formation and who could be in front of other sea captains, such as the chief of the permanent East Asia squadron Louis von Blanc, established in 1881, or the commander of the Cruiser Vineta , sea captain Georg Scheder , who was temporarily employed as head of the East American cruiser division in 1902/03 .

Imperial Navy

There were no active commodores in the Imperial Navy.

Navy until 1945

Friedrich Ruge (center) as a commodore in the Navy

In the Navy of the Wehrmacht , the rank was reintroduced shortly before the start of World War II . The following badges of rank were worn.

sea ​​captain

German EmpireGerman Empire (Reichskriegsflagge)
rear admiral

In the army and in the air force of the Wehrmacht there was no comparable officer rank. Only the SS-Oberführer would have been equivalent to the Commodore of the Kriegsmarine.

People's Navy

Sleeve stripes Captain of the Sea of ​​the People's Navy

In the People's Navy of the NVA there was no equivalent to this rank, where the sleeve stripes of a captain at sea were similar to the sleeve stripes of the commodore.

German Navy from 1956

In 1956, the usual NATO rank designations were introduced in the German Navy . Instead of the rank of commodore, which is common in some NATO countries, the rank of flotilla admiral was introduced between the sea captain and rear admiral , which, unlike previous commodores in the German navy, is a real flag officer rank .

Commercial and recreational shipping

The leader of a convoy of merchant ships is called a convoy commodore . Naval and merchant ship officers can be used for this task .

A commodore could be the longest-serving captain in the merchant shipping of large shipping companies , such as:

In individual cases it was sometimes also common for the commanders of particularly large passenger ships to bear the title of commodore and the corresponding insignia of rank. Often in this position they were subordinate to several subordinate, so-called staff captains, who were included in the ship's command. The title Commodore does not refer to the command of a group of several ships, but to the command of a single, particularly large ship.

In recreational shipping, a sailing club can confer the title of commodore on a long-standing, highly deserved member who has retired from active positions and is often appointed (honorary) chairman . The Yacht Club speaks so the honorary title of the member his gratitude for provided services from. The commodore is often allowed to place a special stand , which is a variant of the club stand , on his yacht. Kaiser Wilhelm II. Held the position of commodore of the Kiel Yacht Club , which at that time was still called the Imperial Yacht Club .

Naval insignia

Air Force and Aviation

In the air forces of various countries, the term commodore is used both as a rank and as a service position. In addition, larger airlines are familiar with the honorary designation for senior flight captains in a leading position.


  1. By order of March 13, 1939, the rank badges of a commodore were fixed as follows: On both forearms 1 strip 5.2 cm wide and two rows of oak leaf embroidery on the visor (like admirals). The rank flag of a commodore to be carried in the large top was a white double stand, which showed an iron cross on a white square ending in two points, the ends of which touched the leech or the upper and lower edge of the stand. The stand length and stand width were in a ratio of 2: 5, the stand incision was 3/5 of the stand length.
  2. since 1956 stand of a squadron commander
  3. formerly for Commodore, now used for Rear Admiral (Lower Half)

Web links

Wiktionary: Commodore  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c Naval Historical Center: Origin and meaning of the term in the British and US Navy
  2. ^ Ronald Prud'homme van Reine: Rechterhand van Nederland, Biography of Michiel Adriaanszoon de Ruyter . Open domain no. 32, Amsterdam 1996
  3. JR Bruin (Red.): De 7 Provinciën. A nieuw schip for Michiel de Ruyter . Uitgeverij Van Wijnen, Franeker 1997, ISBN 90-5194-135-8 .
  4. National Museum of the Royal Navy (Portsmouth)
  5. ^ Hans-Peter Baum : Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796–1866). In: Ulrich Wagner (Hrsg.): History of the city of Würzburg. 4 volumes, Volume I-III / 2, Theiss, Stuttgart 2001-2007; III / 1–2: From the transition to Bavaria to the 21st century. Volume 2, 2007, ISBN 978-3-8062-1478-9 , p. 1365, note 2.
  6. Commodore Faslane Flotilla on the Royal Navy side
  7. Köhler's fleet calendar 1926 lists 10 admirals and 30 captains at sea for 1925, but no commodors