Senior captain

Senior captain is a rare military rank which is used in some countries' armed forces, navies and merchant marines.


In some armies of the world, the senior captain is a rank between a regular captain and a major. The rank is often only found in armies and air forces. A similar position to that of navy senior captain is the rank of senior colonel.

Asian armies

the rank of da wei (大尉) used by the People's Liberation Army between 1955 and 1965, are often translated as senior captain. However, the ranks and insignia derive from the practice of the Soviet Army, which has, like the Red Army before it and the Russian Army today, four company-grade officer ranks, one captain rank and three lieutenant ranks. The literal translation of those four ranks in Chinese are junior(-grade) officer, mid(-grade) officer, upper(-grade) officer, and senior(-grade) officer. Since the PLA today uses only three-company grade officer ranks, it has become conventional to translate shang wei (上尉) which originally corresponded to the Soviet rank of senior lieutenant, as captain, and hence da wei, which corresponded to the Soviet rank of captain, as senior captain. The corresponding fourth junior office rank of the Vietnamese Army, đại úy, is usually translated as captain.

In the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police, between the ranks of turan (captain) and Jagran (major) is the rank of jag turan. In the case of the Afghan National Police, the rank of jag turan is most commonly translated as "staff captain".

European armies

The rank of senior captain is rare in Western militaries, but can be found in the German military, where the rank of Stabshauptmann (Stabskapitänleutnant in the Navy) was created in 1993 for officers of the Militärfachlicher Dienst (former NCOs in specialist positions) who could not be promoted to field grade. The Belgian Armed Forces use the rank of captain-commandant as a standard rank. Italy uses a title of primo capitano for captains (army, air force and Carabinieri) that have held the rank of captain for a long time, currently nine years or longer.

In the Czechoslovak Army (and the Czechoslovak People's Army) until 1954, the rank of štábní kapitán (staff captain) was the equivalent rank.

Historically, the British Army used the title of First Captain to identify the company commander in each regiment who was senior to the other company commanders.

In some navies of the world, there is the notion of a senior captain, abbreviation Sr. CAPT or Snr CAPT. Sometimes, this is also called or indicated as commodore or flotilla captain. When similar rank existed in Imperial Russian Navy it was called not commodore, but rather captain-commander. A naval senior captain is similar to the army's senior colonel rank.

Merchant marine or merchant navy

In some merchant marines or merchant navies of the world, some captains or shipmasters, with particular and recognized seniority in terms of true and effective ocean-going ships'command, they are named senior captain, senior shipmaster, shipmaster senior grade or shipmaster highest rank, conforming to British tradition commodore - Cmde. The most senior, among others senior captains, is named first senior captain or, conforming to old British tradition, commodore 1st class - Cdre.

United States Revenue Cutter Service

The rank of senior captain was used by the Revenue Cutter Service to denote a rank equivalent to a U.S. Navy commander and was established in 1908 during an overhaul of service rank structures by Congress. The rank and title of Captain-Commandant denoted the head of the Revenue Cutter Service and was superior to the rank of senior captain. The Captain-Commandant was equivalent in rank to a navy captain. A Revenue Cutter Service captain was equivalent to a navy lieutenant commander at the time.[1][2]


  1. Johnson, p 17
  2. Larzelere, p 17
References cited
  • Johnson, Robert Irwin (1987). Guardians of the Sea, History of the United States Coast Guard, 1915 to the Present. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. ISBN 978-0-87021-720-3.
  • Larzelere, Alex (2003). The Coast Guard in World War I: An Untold Story. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. ISBN 978-1-55750-476-0.
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