Captain lieutenant

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Naval officer ranks
Flag officers:

Admiral of the fleetFleet admiralGrand admiral
AdmiralGeneral admiral
Vice admiralSquadron vice-admiralLieutenant admiral
Rear admiralCounter admiralDivisional admiral
CommodoreFlotilla admiral

Senior officers:

CaptainCaptain at seaCaptain of sea and warShip-of-the-line captain
CommanderFrigate captain
Lieutenant commanderCorvette captain

Junior officers:

Captain lieutenantLieutenantShip-of-the-line lieutenant
Frigate lieutenantLieutenant (junior grade)Sub-lieutenant
Corvette lieutenantEnsign

Captain lieutenant or captain-lieutenant is a military rank, used in a number of navies worldwide and formerly in the British Army. It is generally equivalent to the Commonwealth or US rank of lieutenant, and has the NATO rank code of OF-2, though this can vary.

Finland, Denmark and Norway

The same rank is used in the navies of Finland (kapteeniluutnantti), Denmark (kaptajnløjtnant) and Norway (kapteinløytnant). The latest revision of the relevant NATO STANAG standardization agreement makes the longstanding courtesy practice of translating the rank into English as "lieutenant commander" for all German, Danish and Norwegian officers of that rank official.[1]

The Norwegian Navy goes a step further in ranking the kapteinløytnant as OF-3 when serving afloat, disregarding the Norwegian national tri-service ranking (which still equates the kapteinløytnant with the Army rank of kaptein).[2][3]


In the Estonian Navy the similarly sounding rank of kaptenleitnant is an officer rank classified as NATO OF-4, i.e. equal to commander in the Royal Navy and United States Navy.[4] As the commander of the Estonian Navy is a captain,[5] this is the de facto second highest rank in the Estonian Navy.


The French Army of the Ancien Régime used a rank of capitaine-lieutenant very similar to the British one. It was mostly encountered in the Royal Guard (maison militaire du roi), where the king was officially captain of most of the guard companies, but the effective command was in the hands of a captain-lieutenant. D'Artagnan is perhaps the most famous captain-lieutenant in French history, as commander of the first mousquetaire company.


Naval Ensign of Germany.svg

Kapitänleutnant is an OF2 rank equivalent to the Hauptmann (en: Captain) in the German Army and the German Air Force.

See also


In the Royal Netherlands Navy, a kapitein-luitenant ter zee is equivalent to a US Navy or Royal Navy commander (OF-4).

Portugal and Brazil

In the Portuguese Navy, a capitão-tenente is the equivalent naval rank to a British or American lieutenant commander (OF-3).

The Brazilian Navy uses the rank of capitão-tenente, in the same manner as the Navy of Portugal, but in contrast to those of other South American countries. It is equivalent to the USN and RN lieutenant (OF-2).

Slavophone armed forces


Kapitan-leytenant (Russian: капитан-лейтенант) is a rank in the Russian Navy, previously the Red Fleet/Soviet Navy and Imperial Russian Navy. It is the rank below a captain of the 3rd rank and above a senior lieutenant. In Soviet times, it may be achieved as early as an officer's 5th year of service. In Russian and other East-European navies it is the most senior junior officer rank (equivalent to "captain" in the Army/Ground Forces).

The Russian Navy assigns this rank the two-and-a-half stripe insignia used in Britain and the US for lieutenant commanders. On the other hand, the US Navy considers this rank equivalent to lieutenant.

In terms of responsibilities, officers of this rank may serve as department heads on larger warships, but may also serve as commanding officers of 3rd and 4th rank warships (Russian ship classifications referring to all from Krivak-class frigates to gunboats and minesweepers).

Unlike the equivalent OF2-rank Kapitänleutnant in the German Navy, submarines are at least nominally not on the list of eligible positions. In the past, when the boats were smaller, captain-lieutenants were eligible for the submarine command. However, in current Soviet/Russian ship ranking no modern submarine is given 3rd rank. This reflects the high status of submarines, as all nuclear submarines (SSBN or SSN) are considered 1st rank and large and medium diesels 2nd rank, while smaller 3rd rank submarines simply aren't built.[6]

Sequence of ranks in the Russian Federation Navy
junior rank:
Starshy leytenant
(Старший лейтенант)

Emblem of the Военно-Морской Флот Российской Федерации.svg
senior rank:
Kapitan 3rd rank
(Капитан 3его ранга)
Rank insignia IRA, Soviet Navy, RF Navy
(OF-3) (OF-2)
Flag of Russia.svg IRN F3-Kapitan-leytenant 1911.jpg RAF N F2CaptLt since 2010par.svg Rus navy-kapitan.png RAF N F2-KaptLt 2010–.png RAF N F2-KaptLt sleeve.png
shoulder board
shoulder board
... everyday
shoulder board / sleeve insignia
(after 2010)

Bulgaria, Latvia, Ukraine

The rank is also used by the navies of several ex-Soviet republics and former Eastern bloc countries. It is used in the navies of Ukraine (kapitan-leitenant), Bulgaria (kapitan-lejtenant) and Latvia (kapteiņleitnants). These are equivalent to lieutenant (OF-2).

United Kingdom

Captain-lieutenant was formerly a rank in the British Army; the senior subaltern rank, above lieutenant and below captain.

A regiment's field officers - its colonel, lieutenant colonel, and major - originally commanded their own companies, as well as carrying out their regimental command duties.

However, from the 17th century onwards, the colonel increasingly became a patron and ceremonial head instead of an actual tactical commander, with command in the field devolving to the lieutenant colonel. This left the colonel's company without a captain.

The lieutenant of this company thus became its acting captain. This state of affairs was formally recognised with the creation of the rank of captain-lieutenant, with its own entry in the table of prices for the purchase of commissions.

In 1772 captain-lieutenants were granted rank as captains in their regiments and in the Army.[7] The rank was abolished sometime in the early 19th century.


  1. NATO STANAG 2116 of 25 February 2010
  2. Norwegian Ministry of Defence decree of 18 May 1977
  3. NATO STANAG 2116 of 25 February 2010
  4. Naval rank table of the Estonian Navy (Estonian)
  5. Official CV of Captain Igor Schwede
  6. Polmar, N. (1991) The Naval Institute Guide the Soviet Navy
  7. The London Gazette: no. 11251. p. 1. 23–26 May 1772.

See also