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Lieutenant Commander (also hyphenated Lieutenant-Commander; pronounced L'tenant in the Royal Navy, Irish and Commonwealth navies)[1] is a commissioned officer rank in many navies. The rank is superior to a Lieutenant and subordinate to a Commander. The corresponding rank in most armies (armed services) and air forces is Major, and in the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces is Squadron Leader. The NATO rank code is OF-3.

A Lieutenant Commander is a senior department officer on a large ship or shore installation. He or she may also be commanding officer or executive officer (second-in-command) of a smaller ship or installation.


Lieutenants were commonly put in command of smaller vessels not warranting a Commander or Captain: such a Lieutenant was called a "Lieutenant Commanding" or "Lieutenant Commandant" in the United States Navy, and a "Lieutenant in Command", "Lieutenant and Commander", or "Senior Lieutenant" in the Royal Navy. The USN settled on "Lieutenant Commander" in 1862, and made it a distinct rank; the RN followed suit in March 1914.[2]

United KingdomEdit

Royal NavyEdit

The insignia worn by a Royal Navy Lieutenant-Commander (Lt Cdr) is two medium gold braid stripes with one thin gold stripe running in between, placed upon a navy blue/black background. The top stripe has the ubiquitous loop used in all RN officer rank insignia. The RAF follows this pattern with its equivalent rank of Squadron Leader.

Having fewer officer ranks than the army, the RN previously split some of its ranks by seniority (time in rank) to provide equivalence: hence a Lieutenant with fewer than eight years' seniority wore two stripes, and ranked with an army Captain; a Lieutenant of eight years or more wore two stripes with a thinner one in between, and ranked with a Major. This distinction was abolished when the rank of Lieutenant-Commander was introduced.

Royal Observer CorpsEdit

Observer Lieutenant Commander

A Royal Observer Corps Observer Lieutenant Commander's rank insignia

Throughout much of its existence, the British Royal Observer Corps (ROC) maintained a rank of Observer Lieutenant Commander (Obs Lt Cdr). The ROC wore a Royal Air Force uniform and their rank insignia appeared similar to that of an RAF Squadron Leader except that the stripes were shown entirely in black. Prior to the renaming, the rank had been known as Observer Lieutenant (First Class).

Other countriesEdit

Insignia similar to that of the Royal Navy's is worn by Lieutenant-Commanders in other Commonwealth navies, such as the Royal Australian Navy (which uses the abbreviation "LCDR"), the Royal New Zealand Navy, the Irish Naval Service, and the Canadian Forces Maritime Command (formerly known as the Royal Canadian Navy, and which uses the abbreviation "LCdr"). Unlike the United States Navy, personnel in the Royal Navy and other Commonwealth navies addressing a Lieutenant-Commander do not abbreviate the rank to "Commander". The United States Navy always addresses officers using the higher grade of the rank; as an example, a LTJG is not referred to as Lieutenant Junior Grade, but simply as Lieutenant, and a Lieutenant Commander is referred to as a Commander. If either a Commander or Lieutenant Commander have screened for and are in command of a naval vessel or installation, they are called captain, as the commanding officer of any warship is entitled to be, regardless of rank, and casually referred to as the skipper.

The corresponding rank in the German Navy, Italian Navy, French Navy, Spanish Navy and most French and Spanish-speaking countries is Corvette Captain. The corresponding rank in the Portuguese Navy is Lieutenant Captain, while the Brazilian Navy uses Corvette Captain. The corresponding rank in the Polish Navy is Komandor podporucznik.


United StatesEdit


The corresponding rank to Lieutenant Commander is Captain 3rd Rank.


  1. "Uniforms and Badges of Rank" (Web). U.K. Secretary of State for Defence. 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-19. 
  2. "Lieutenant Commander". Retrieved 2009-10-06. 

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