It originated from the days of naval sailing squadrons and can trace its origins to the Royal Navy. Each naval squadron would be assigned an admiral as its head, who would command from the centre vessel and direct the activities of the squadron. The admiral would in turn be assisted by a vice admiral, who commanded the lead ships which would bear the brunt of a naval battle. In the rear of the naval squadron, a third admiral would command the remaining ships and, as this section of the squadron was considered to be in the least danger, the admiral in command of the rear would typically be the most junior of the squadron admirals. This has survived into the modern age, with the rank of rear admiral the most-junior of the admiralty ranks of many navies.
In some European navies (e.g., that of France), and in the Canadian Forces' French rank translations, the rank of rear admiral is known as contre-amiral. In the Royal Netherlands Navy, this rank is known as schout-bij-nacht, (lit.: supervisor during night), denoting the role junior to the squadron admiral, and fleet admiral.
In order that the natural son of Charles II, Henry (Duke of Grafton), could at tender years hold the title Vice Admiral of England, Admiral Arthur Herbert was made the first "Rear Admiral of England." The office was effective until 1895, but not filled until 1901, when it was revived as was that of Vice Admiral of the United Kingdom by Edward VII. The Act of July 16, 1862, to a marked degree reorganized the American Navy, authorized the commisioning of not more than nine rear admirals on the active list and nine on the reserve or retired list. The first rear admirals were selected for distinguished service. Afterwards vacancies were filled by regular promotion, by a rigorous system of selection.
The rank of rear admiral did not exist in the US Navy until July 16, 1862 when David Glasgow Farragut was appointed to this newly-created rank by Congress. Until then, the highest rank a navy officer could attain was [simply "Flag Officer," as Congress resisted the use of the word "admiral" to differientate themselves from traditional European navies.
In Starfleet, Rear Admirals may serve as Fleet and Task Force Commanding Officers, but are more likely to see duty as a Chief of Division (ie: Chief of Starfleet Security). As promotion within the admiralty is at the pleasure of the Chancellor and the Starfleet Commander-in-Chief, there is no minimum time in grade beyond the required twenty years of service as a commissioned (non-flag) officer.
Starfleet used the following rank insignia to denote this rank of officer:
Some military and paramilitary groups use the rank "rear admiral" in their organizations:
The only Rear Admiral allowed to wear the MSS uniform and rank insignia is the Chief of Starfleet Logistics. This officer, although an active-duty Starfleet flag officer, is provided the honor of donning the MSS uniform and rank insignia, when performing duties pertaining to the MSS. Duties may include being conveyed by an MSS vessel, visiting an MSS installation, or ceremonial functions within the MSS (ie: promotions, awards, etc). Rear Admiral is the absolute highest rank available within the MSS.
Within the Bajoran Defense Force Navy, a rear admiral is the second rank with flag status and is entitled to its own paygrade of O-8.
|Starfleet Rank Structure|