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Captain at sea

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Title: Captain at sea  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Kapitän, Captain of sea and war, Squadron (naval), Lithuanian military ranks and insignia, Uniforms and insignia of the Kriegsmarine
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Captain at sea

Naval officer ranks
Flag officers:

Admiral of the fleetFleet admiralGrand admiral
AdmiralGeneral admiral
Vice admiralSquadron vice-admiralLieutenant admiral
Rear admiralCounter admiralDivisional admiral
CommodoreFlotilla admiral

Senior officers:

CaptainCaptain at seaCaptain of sea and warShip-of-the-line captain
CommanderFrigate captain
Lieutenant commanderCorvette captain

Junior officers:

Captain lieutenantLieutenantShip-of-the-line lieutenant
Frigate lieutenantLieutenant (junior grade)Sub-lieutenant
Corvette lieutenantEnsign

Captain at sea is a naval rank corresponding to command of a ship-of-the-line or capital ship.

The equivalent in other navies is ship-of-the-line captain or the naval rank of captain in the Commonwealth of Nations and USA.


Kapitän zur See (abbreviated KapzS or KZS) ("captain at sea") is the highest senior officer rank in the German Navy.[1]


The official manner, according to ZDv 10/8, of formal addressing of military people with the rank Kapitän zur See is "Herr/Frau Kapitän zur See". However, in German naval tradition a Kapitän zur See will be addressed as "Herr/Frau Kapitän", or, often, in seamen´s language "Herr/Frau Kap'tän".

Rank insignia and rating

Kapitän zur See

The rank insignia of a Kapitän zur See, worn on the sleeves and shoulders, is a five-pointed star above four stripes when worn on the sleeve. When worn as rank loops, typically on the shoulder, the star is omitted.

The rank is rated OF-5a[2] in NATO, and is equivalent to Oberst in the Heer and Luftwaffe. It is grade A16 or B3 in the pay rules of the Federal Ministry of Defence and is senior to the OF-4 rank of Fregattenkapitän.


Shoulder strap
Sleeve lace
Kapitän zur See

Kapitän zur See in the Volksmarine of the GDR was the highest grade of the senior officer´s rank group, comparable to NATO-rank code OF-5. The rank insignia consisted of shoulder strap and sleeve stripes. Shoulder straps had to be worn on uniform jackets and consisted of twisted silver braids with three gold pips on padding in a navy blue colour.

Cuff insignia consisted of one big stripe, and a five-point naval star above. In contradiction of Imperial German Navy tradition, where sleeve rings encircled the lower cuffs, the Volksmarine cuff strips formed 40 % rings.

Imperial German Navy and Kriegsmarine

Nazi Kriegsmarine
Shoulder board
Kapitän zur See

In the Imperial German Navy and Kriegsmarine, Kapitän zur See was the highest officer rank of the senior officer´s rank group. The rank insignia consisted of shoulder strap and sleeve stripes. Shoulder straps had to be worn on uniform jackets and consisted of twisted silver braids with two gold pips (stars) on padding in navy blue colour. Cuff insignia consisted of four stripes, and a five-point naval star above. The sleeve rings encircled the lower cuffs.


In the Royal Netherlands Navy the rank of kapitein-ter-zee is the third grade of superior officer, equivalent to colonel in the land-forces. His insignia is made up of four bands and he commands a capital ship or a shore establishment (until recently, a kapitein-ter-zee commanded the Onderzeedienst and Mijnendienst, the Netherlands Navy's submarine and mine-laying training establishments). Smaller vessels such as destroyers and frigates are commanded by a kapitein-luitenant ter zee.

Until recently flagships of the Netherlands Navy (such as Tromp-class frigates) were also commanded by a kapitein-ter-zee. Currently De Zeven Provinciën-class frigates are commanded by a kapitein-luitenant-ter-zee.

Netherlands rank insignia of a kapitein-ter-zee

Other nations

  • Belgium - Kapitein-ter-zee / capitaine de vaisseau
  • Canada - Captain (N) / capitaine de vaisseau
  • Croatia - Kapetan bojnog broda
  • France - Capitaine de vaisseau
  • Italy - Capitano di vascello
  • Portugal - Capitão de mar e guerra
  • Spain - Capitán de navío


  1. ^ official rank table of the German Navy
  2. ^ STANAG 2116
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