admiral defined in 1939 yearadmiral - Admiral (Arab, amir-al-bahr, commander of the sea);
admiral - Title borne by naval officers of high rank. Its first use occurs in a convention dated March 8, 1297, wherein William de Leybourne is described as Admiral of the Sea of the King of England. Commonly used to indicate any naval officer senior to a commodore, it is properly applied only to those who stand in seniority between vice-admirals and admirals of the fleet. In the British Navy a captain selected for promotion becomes a rear-admiral, but may be retired at once if he has not completed the necessary qualifying service, or if the Admiralty do not propose to offer him further employment, the latter including, for this rank, the command of naval establishments and small squadrons, and the subordinate command of larger naval forces. Rear-admirals are compulsorily retired on reaching the age of 60, or on completing two and a half years from their last service. Promotion to vice-admiral is by selection, but if a rear-admiral has not hoisted his flag at sea he is retired when his turn comes. Vice-admirals are employed in command of important naval bases, battle squadrons and the larger fleets abroad, and must retire at 65 or on completing three years from their last service.
The rank of admiral, also awarded by selection, is the highest in which naval officers are usually employed, and all the principal commands, both afloat and ashore, are generally held by admirals. The age limit is 65, and retirement is enforced after three years' unemployment, or immediately on promotion if the officer had not served as a vice-admiral. Advancements to the rank of admiral of the fleet are made by the sovereign's selection, subject to qualifications as to service. Officers of this rank are rarely given employment, but are borne on the active list for life.
Admirals when on active service fly a flag indicative of their rank, whence the term flag officer. The admiral of the fleet's flag is a Union flag, and the admiral's a plain S. George's cross, while vice- and rear-admirals have respectively one and two red balls on the canton or cantons next the staff. Until 1864 the flag ranks below admiral of the fleet were subdivided into those of red, white, and blue squadrons, the rank of Nelson at Trafalgar being vice-admiral of the white.
In nearly all foreign navies the system as regards flag rank is similar to that in the British. The German grand-admiral and the Italian qran ammiraglio correspond to the British admiral of the fleet. In the U.S. fleet the highest substantive rank, is that of rear-admiral, but officers holding important commands are appointed fleet admirals, admirals or vice-admirals for their periods of office.
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