Captain (Royal Navy)


Captain (Capt) is a senior officer rank of the Royal Navy. It ranks above commander and below commodore and has a NATO ranking code of OF-5. The rank is equivalent to a colonel in the British Army and Royal Marines, and to a group captain in the Royal Air Force. There are similarly named equivalent ranks in the navies of many other countries.

A Royal Navy captain's rank insignia
A Royal Navy captain's rank insignia (left, with a lieutenant at right) during divisions conducted at HMNB Clyde in January 2013.
CountryUnited Kingdom
Service branch Royal Navy
NATO rank codeOF-5
Next higher rankCommodore
Next lower rankCommander
Equivalent ranks

Seagoing captains


In the Royal Navy, the officer in command of any warship of the rank of commander and below is informally referred to as "the captain" on board, even though holding a junior rank, but formally is titled "the commanding officer" (or CO). In former times, up until the nineteenth century, Royal Navy officers who were captains by rank and in command of a naval vessel were referred to as post-captains; this practice is now defunct.

Captain (D) or Captain Destroyers, afloat, was an operational appointment commanding a destroyer flotilla or squadron, and there was a corresponding administrative appointment ashore,[1] until at least a decade after the Second World War. The title was probably used informally up until the abolition of frigate and destroyer squadrons with the Fleet FIRST reorganisation circa 2001.



Ashore, the rank of captain is often verbally described as "captain RN" to distinguish it from the more junior Army and Royal Marines rank, and in naval contexts, as a "four-ring captain" (referring to the uniform lace) to avoid confusion with the title of a seagoing commanding officer. In the Ministry of Defence, and in joint service establishments, a captain may be referred to as a "DACOS" (standing for deputy assistant chief of staff) or an "AH" (assistant head), from the usual job title of OF5-ranked individuals who work with civil servants.

Insignia and uniform


The rank insignia features four rings of gold braid with an executive curl in the upper ring.[2]

When in mess dress or mess undress, officers of the rank of captain and above wear gold-laced trousers (the trousers are known as "tin trousers", and the gold lace stripes thereon are nicknamed "lightning conductors"), and may wear the undress tailcoat (without epaulettes).[3]

See also



  1. ^ Whitby, Michael (2011). Commanding Canadians: The Second World War Diaries of A.F.C. Layard. Vancouver, Canada: UBC Press. p. Abbrev: XV. ISBN 9780774840378.
  2. ^ "Uniforms and Badges of Rank at Royal Navy website". Archived from the original on 2 August 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2008.
  3. ^ "Naval Book of Reference, Annex 39A: RN Dress Tables" (PDF). Royal Navy. October 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 November 2015. Retrieved 5 April 2015.