Captain

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A captain is the sixth lowest rank of commissioned officer in most naval organizations, and the third lowest rank (highest company grade rank) in marine or militia-based organizations.

Contents

Historical Context

Naval Use

From Latin, capitaneus, the head or chief. The evolution of the commanding officer of ships derives from the batsuen (boatswain) or the rector in the eleventh century; about 1300, the rank of captain came into general use. The master, although he sailed the ship, was of lower rank than the captain. In a British order in council in 1748, the relative rank was settled with the Army by dividing Navy captains into three grades. It was deemed at that time that any officer in command was entitled to the title of captain while in command, regardless of actual rank. All captains not eligible on the list for promotion to rear admiral were originally called "masters and commanders" and had "C" after their names. The rank was shortened to "commander" in 1794. The term "cdr." in the British Navy was used after the names of commanders in 1826. "Post captain," a term used in the Royal Navy and once used in the American Navy, distinguished captains commanding frigates from master commanders or commanders next in rank. There never was a commission of "post captain." In 1747, the rank of captain was first clearly defined in the British Navy. Captains who commanded post ships took rank, if of three years standing, with colonels in the Army. Until the year 1824, the Royal Navy list classed such captains as post captains. Until 1862, captain was the highest commissioned officer in the US Navy, and according to his duty, ranks with lieutenant colonel, colonel, or brigadier general.

Army/Marine Use

Prior to the professionalization of the armed services of European nations subsequent to the French Revolution, a captain was a nobleman who purchased the right to head a company from the previous holder of that right. He would in turn receive money from another nobleman to serve as his lieutenant. The funding to provide for the troops came from the monarch or his government; the captain had to be responsible for it. If he was not, or was otherwise court-martialed, he would be dismissed ("cashiered"), and the monarch would receive money from another nobleman to command the company. Otherwise, the only pension for the captain was selling the right to another nobleman when he was ready to retire.

Starfleet Usage

In Starfleet, captains serve as commanding officers of capital ships, such as heavy cruisers and battleships. They may also serve on admiralty staff as operations officers. The abbreviation for a Captain in Starfleet is CAPT, while a marine captain is abbreviated as CPT.

Starfleet used the following rank insignia to denote this rank of officer:

Period 2410-Present 2373-2410 2368-2373 2365-2373 2352-2365 2280-2352 2270-2280 2255-2270
Naval Insignia
(O-6)
2410 SF O-6.png
2410 SF O-6 (prov).png
2373 SF O-6.png
2373 SF O-6 (prov).png
2368 SF O-6.png
2368 SF O-6 (prov).png
2366 SF O-6.png
2366 SF O-6 (prov).png
2352 SF O-6.png
2352 SF O-6 (prov).png
2280 SF O-6.png 2270 SF O-6.png
2270 SF O-6 (shoulder).png
2255 SF O-6.png
Marine Insignia
(O-3)
2410 SFMC O-3.png 2373 SFMC O-3.png 2368 SFMC O-3.png 2366 SFMC O-3.png 2352 SFMC O-3.png 2280 SFMC O-3.png 2270 SFMC O-3.png 2255 SFMC O-3.png

Other Usage

Some military and paramilitary groups use the rank "captain" in their organizations:

Starfleet Merchant & Supply Service (MSS)

Captains within the MSS are usually placed in command of Logistics installations in times of war, or in command of superheavy freighters and transports. Captains are typically "master mariners;" officers with significant experience and qualifications that are highly sought after in the civilian sector. Additionally, Captains may find themselves in administrative command billets, such as the Assistant Chief of Starfleet Logistics, or Deputy Chief of the MSS.

Grade Rank Command Services Sciences
O-6 Captain SFMSS O-6 CMD.png SFMSS O-6 SVC.png SFMSS O-6 SCI.png

Bajoran Defense Force Navy

Grade Rank Insignia (Sleeve)
O-6 Captain BDFN-O-6.png

Bajoran Defense Force Militia

Grade Rank Insignia (Collar/Shoulder)
O-3 Captain BDFM-O-3.png

Rikon Defense Force

Grade Rank Insignia (Shoulderboard)
O-6 Captain RDF-O-6.png

See Also

Starfleet Rank Structure
Grade Enlisted Training Warrant Officer
1 PVT CREC MID4 WOJG 2LT ENS
2 PFC CAPP MID3 WO 1LT LTJG
3 LCPL CRMN MID2 CWO CPT LT
4 CPL PO3 MID1 SCWO MAJ LCDR
5 SGT PO2 OC MCWO LTCOL CDR
6 SSGT PO1 COL CAPT
CDRE
7 GYSGT CPO BRGEN BADM
8 MSGT SCPO MAJGEN RADM
9 MGYSGT
SGTMAJ
MCPO LTGEN VADM
10 SGTMAJOS MCPOS GEN ADM
11 GADM
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