Grand admiral

Grand admiral is a historic naval rank, the highest rank in the several European navies that used it. It is best known for its use in Germany as Großadmiral. A comparable rank in other navies is that of fleet admiral.

Grand admirals in individual navies[]


In Bourbon Restoration France, the rank was an honorific one equivalent to that of marshal in the French Army.


Insignia of a Kriegsmarine Großadmiral until 1945
Sleeve insignia
Shoulder board
Command post flag
Corps colour (Navy blue)

In the Imperial German Navy, and later in the Kriegsmarine, the rank Großadmiral was the equivalent of a British admiral of the fleet or a United States fleet admiral; as a five-star rank (OF-10). Like field marshals its holders were authorised to carry a baton.[1]

The rank was created in 1901 and discontinued in 1945, after eight men were promoted to it. The next most junior rank was Generaladmiral (admiral-general).

Imperial Germany[]

Before and during World War I, the following were made grand admirals of the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine):

Nazi Germany[]

Großadmiral was the most senior rank of the Kriegsmarine, immediately senior to Generaladmiral. There were no more grand admirals until 1939. The following men were made grand admirals during the Nazi regime:


Insignia of an Austrian Großadmiral
sleeve insignia
command post flag
Corps colour (Navy blue)

Anton Haus, commander of the Austro-Hungarian navy for part of World War I, was given the title of Großadmiral in 1916. No other active-duty officer (except members of the Imperial family) was ever given this rank (although Haus's immediate successor, Maximilian Njegovan, was promoted to grand admiral on the retired list in 1918).


The rank of grand admiral (Italian: grand' ammiraglio) was created by Benito Mussolini in 1924. It was established primarily to honour Paolo Thaon di Revel, who had been head of the Italian Regia Marina during World War I — he was the only person to be awarded the rank. It was equivalent to marshal of Italy in the army and also marshal of the Air Force.


Under the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko in the Republic of Zaire, Mavua Mudima, the commander of the Zairian navy and the country's defense minister from 1994 to 1997, held the rank of "grand admiral"[3][4] even though the Zairian navy only consisted of some small patrol and river boats.[5]

In fiction[]

Among the several grand admirals appearing in fiction and science fiction, one notable figure is Grand Admiral Thrawn of the Star Wars science fiction franchise.[6]


  1. ^ BROCKHAUS, The encyclopedia in 24 volumes (1796–2001), Volume 9: 3-7653-3660-2, page 164; definition: «Großadmiral»
  2. ^ "Latest intelligence - The German Emperor and the King". The Times (36806). London. 28 June 1902. p. 5.
  3. ^ Duke, Lynne (16 December 1997). Ex-Mobutu aides arrested. Washington Post. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  4. ^ Khan, Shaharyan (2000). The Shallow Graves of Rwanda. I.B. Tauris. p. 75. ISBN 978-1860646164.
  5. ^ Prunier, Gerard (2008). Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe. Oxford University Press. p. 136. ISBN 978-0199705832.
  6. ^ Trendacosta, Katharine. "Who Is Grand Admiral Thrawn and Why Is His Appearance in Star Wars Rebels So Exciting?". io9.