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Author Topic: Royal Navy Ranks/Positions  (Read 1104 times)

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Offline TomaHawkAU

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Royal Navy Ranks/Positions
« on: September 25, 2017, 09:38:16 am »
I've been googling for a couple of days now and haven't been able to find anything concrete or more that every website says something different. Did the Royal Navy have a set rank structure or was it different on every ship since the sailors signed up to the ship not the Royal Navy, all I have found is that the Captain is the person who commands a ship and the Rank of Captain had something else before it to distinguish the rank from the position. I have also found that the Lieutenants were ranked First, Second, Third... etc When it comes to everything else I can't find much. Would preferably like smaller ship ranks/positions since thats whats present in the game but even the ranks of a Ship of the Line would be good too since im interested in the era.

Offline Intel Guardian

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Re: Royal Navy Ranks/Positions
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2017, 03:19:53 pm »
I'd like to know this too. The Napoleonic Royal Navy rank structure seems to just be an old fashioned mess.

Offline Jackson

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Re: Royal Navy Ranks/Positions
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2017, 11:41:03 pm »
Here's something I wrote four years ago. I can't vouch for the correctness of old me, but it seems about right.

The lowest rate was 'boy', of which there were two classes. The rate after that was 'landsman', which was for unskilled labourers with no sailing experience. Rating above them were 'ordinary seamen', who had some skill with sailing but not a great deal. The highest rating non-officers were 'able seamen', who had a good deal of experience sailing and knew how everything worked.

Above the seamen were petty officers. There were over 20 petty officer rates in the Napoleonic era, including boatswain's mates, cooks, armourers, gunners, master's mates, surgeon's mates, quarter gunners, trumpeters, clerks, schoolmasters, carpenter's mates, captains of the tops etc.

The higher ranking petty officers held royal warrants for their positions and were skilled specialists. These included surgeons, boatswains, pursers, sailmakers, ropemakers, quartermasters, masters-at-arms, coxswains and of course midshipmen.

Next were actual commissioned officers, the lowest of which was 'lieutenant' (sub-lieutenant only became a rating in 1860). Lieutenants in command of a ship were rated as 'lieutenant-commanders' and were addressed as 'captain' (as anyone who commanded a vessel was). Next was the 'commander', a rating established in 1794. Commanders were given captaincy of ships larger than the tiny mail-runners and sloops the lieutenants usually commanded but still smaller than rated ships (frigates and up). Proper rated ships were invariably commanded by 'post-captains', who were promoted exclusively from commanders.

After that you have the flag ranks, the lowest of which was a Commodore, of which were were grades. Second commodores were those who commanded a vessel, first commodores being officers important enough to have captains under them and were thus ranked and paid as rear-admirals (though still below them). The purpose of commodores were as fall-backs in case no proper admirals were around.

There were three admiral ranks, which were in order of highest to lowest 'admiral' (of the red), 'vice-admiral' (of the white) and 'rear-admiral' (of the blue).

The highest rank in the Royal Navy as 'Admiral of the Fleet', of which there could only be one at a time (at least until 1862). It was really more of an honorary rank than anything.

As an amendment, I don't think commodore was technically a rank; I think it was an appointment made to a post-captain. Post-captains, by the way, were called that to differentiate the rank of captain from simply the captain of a ship. So called because they 'made post'.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2017, 11:42:37 pm by Jackson »
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