Grand admiral

Grand admiral is a historic naval rank, the highest rank in the several European navies that used it. It is best known for its use in Germany as Großadmiral. A comparable rank in modern navies is that of admiral of the fleet.

Grand admirals in individual naviesEdit


In Sweden the rank of grand admiral was only ever awarded twice. Once to Prince Charles (XIII), whom was given the title at birth and which was used by him as the commander of the Swedish Royal Navy and once to Crown prince Oscar (I) as a courtesy title to honour his adoptive grandfather, the late king Charles XIII.[1]


In Bourbon Restoration France, the rank was an honorific one equivalent to that of marshal in the French Army.


Grand admiral
Generaladmiral rank flag (1939–1945)
Shoulder board and sleeve
Country  German Empire
  Nazi Germany
Service branch  Imperial German Navy
Rank groupFlag officer
Next lower rankGeneraladmiral
Equivalent ranksGeneralfeldmarschall

In the Imperial German Navy, and later in the Kriegsmarine, the rank Großadmiral was the equivalent of a British admiral of the fleet or a United States fleet admiral; as a five-star rank (OF-10). Like field marshals its holders were authorised to carry a baton.[2]

The rank was created in 1901 and discontinued in 1945, after eight men were promoted to it. The next most junior rank was Generaladmiral (admiral-general).

Imperial GermanyEdit

Before and during World War I, the following were made grand admirals of the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine):

Nazi GermanyEdit

Großadmiral was the most senior rank of the Kriegsmarine, immediately senior to Generaladmiral. There were no more grand admirals until 1939. The following men were made grand admirals during the Nazi regime:

  • Erich Raeder, then-Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine, was made a grand admiral on 1 April 1939.
  • Karl Dönitz, commander of the U-Boat fleet, was made a grand admiral on 30 January 1943 upon succeeding Raeder as Commander-in-Chief.


Insignia of an Austrian Großadmiral
sleeve insignia
command post flag
Corps colour (Navy blue)

The Austrian grand admirals were all members of the Imperial family, except for Anton Haus, the commander of the Austro-Hungarian navy for part of World War I:


The rank of grand admiral (Italian: grand'ammiraglio) was created by Benito Mussolini in 1924. It was established primarily to honour Paolo Thaon di Revel, who had been head of the Italian Regia Marina during World War I — he was the only person to be awarded the rank. It was equivalent to marshal of Italy in the army and also marshal of the Air Force.


In 1967 the rank of Grand Admiral of Peru (Spanish: Gran Almirante del Perú) was awarded posthumously to Miguel Grau Seminario and is equivalent to the army rank of Grand Marshal of Peru.

In fictionEdit

Among the several grand admirals appearing in fiction and science fiction, one notable figure is Grand Admiral Thrawn of the Star Wars science fiction franchise.[4]


  1. ^ "127-128 (Nordisk familjebok / Uggleupplagan. 27. Stockholm-Nynäs järnväg - Syrsor)". (in Swedish). 1918. Retrieved 2023-01-23.
  2. ^ BROCKHAUS, The encyclopedia in 24 volumes (1796–2001), Volume 9: 3-7653-3660-2, page 164; definition: «Großadmiral»
  3. ^ "Latest intelligence - The German Emperor and the King". The Times. No. 36806. London. 28 June 1902. p. 5.
  4. ^ Trendacosta, Katharine. "Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn and Why Is His Appearance in Star Wars Rebels So Exciting?". io9.