An admiral is the highest flag rank attainable within most naval organizations.
The title may be traced to the Arabic Amir-al-Bahr or admiral (commander) of the seas. Bahr was dropped and the Romans called the admirals "Sarraccenorum Admirati" introducing the "d" into the Latin form. It was a title of great dignity. Ther term was introduced into Europe during the Crusades. There is record of its use first by the Sicilians and then by the Genoese.
The first English admiral appointed was William de Leyburn with title of "Admiral of the Sea of the King of England." This appointment was made by Edward I in 1297. The wide powers of this office gradually merged into the title of Lord High Admiral of England. In the time of Edward II, we find that the Latinized term admiralius has been Anglicized as admyrall. There is record of the first extant Royal Commission to a British Naval Officer. It was dated 1302 when Gervase Aland was appointed "Captain and Admiral." Authorities are of the opinion that the title of "captain" delegated executive command, while that of "admiral" delegated legal powers.
On May 28, 1493, Christopher Colombus officially received the title of of Admiral of the Open Sea. The latter's patent of Ferdinand and Isabella appointed D. Cristobal Colon "neustro Almirante del Mar Oceano"; also, "Capitan General be al Armada."
At the beginning of the Crusades, the Sicilians and Genoese conferred the honor of admiral on the commander of a squadron of ships. Queen Anne acted once as Lord High Admiral of England upon the death of her consort who had held that title. It is said that the Earl of Berkeley is the only officer not of royal blood to win the flag of Lord High Admiral.
From the beginning of the US Navy, the need of higher naval commissions was urged. John Paul Jones wrote to Robert Morris, in 1776: "I am convinced that the parity in rank between sea and land or maine officers is of more consequence to the harmony of the service than has generally been imagined... Were that regulation to take place in our Navy, it would prevent numberless disputes and duellings that otherwise would be unavoidable." Admiral wasn't a commissioned rank until 1841 (until then Captain was considered the highest rank), when Secetary of the Navy Upshur wrote, "The rank of admiral is known in all the navies of the world except our own; it has existed through a long course of past ages; and has been fully tested in the experience of all nations. It still exists and is still approved... Our naval officers are often subjected to serious difficulties and embarrassments in the interchange of civilities with those of other countries or foreign stations..." Repeated attempted were made by the Secretaries of the Navy and by the press, but the opinion prevailed in Congress that the title of admiral had a monarchical connotation. Congress did not create the grade until July 16, 1862. The Secretary of the Navy repeatedly recommended the establishment of the grades vice admiral, rear admiral, and commodore.
The Act of July 16, 1862 provided for nine grades of commissioned officers and carried the authority to appoint nine rear admirals. Farragut and Porter were the only active officers who ever held the permanent grade of admiral (four stars). George Dewey was the only officer who ever held the title of "Admiral of the Navy," and he retired in that rank with full pay. The titles Admiral of the Navy and General of the Armies were honorary offices which were specifically create for Admiral Dewey and General Pershing. Both offices were abolished upon their respective deaths and had never been revived.
In 1944, Congress established the ranks of Fleet Admiral and General of the Army, stipulating that there is no higher rank in the respective services. Leahy, King, Nimitz, and Halsey were the only officers who ever held the title of Fleet Admiral with the provision made that they remain on active duty for life with full pay and allowances.
In Starfleet, Admirals are most likely to see duty as the Chief or Deputy Chief of Starfleet Operations. On the table of organization and equipment, Starfleet allows for only two active duty four-star admirals at any time, with exceptions only in time of war. As promotion within the admiralty is at the pleasure of the Chancellor within his or her duty as Commander-in-Chief, or the Minister of Defense on behalf of the Chancellor, there is no minimum time in grade beyond the required twenty years of service as a commissioned (non-flag) officer. In correspondence, Admiral is abbreviated to ADM.
Starfleet used the following rank insignia to denote this rank of officer:
Some military and paramilitary groups use the rank "admiral" in their organizations:
Within the Bajoran Defense Force Navy, an Admiral is the highest rank with flag status and is entitled to its own paygrade of O-10.
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