Vice-Admiral (Royal Navy)

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Vice-Admiral is a Flag Rank in the Royal Navy, and is the third-most senior officers' rank, ranking above Rear-Admiral and below Admiral. During the Dreadnought Era a Vice-Admiral would normally be found serving as a Senior Officer of a Battle Squadron, as a Commander-in-Chief on a foreign station, or as a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty. A number of Vice-Admirals would be unemployed, and therefore on Half-Pay.


In 1870 the number of Vice-Admirals had been lowered to 15.[1] This was raised to 20 in 1895[2] and 22 in 1898.[3] The increase by two of 1898 was supposed to begin in 1899 with one addition being made per year. However, the first addition was not made until 1 January, 1901, with the promotion of Charles L. Oxley. The full establishment was not reached until James L. Hammet was promoted on 1 January, 1905, five years late.

Permitted Retinue

In 1888, a Royal Navy Vice-Admiral was allotted the Secretary, Flag Lieutenant and Coxswain afforded all flag officers, Commodores First Class and Captains of the Fleet, as well as seven domestics – three fewer than an Admiral enjoyed, and two more than were granted a Rear-Admiral.[4]

Compulsory Retirement

Officers promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral prior to 1 April, 1914 were required to be retired after five years since their last service as a Flag Officer. If they were promoted to the rank of Admiral without service as a Vice-Admiral, they were compulsorily retired.[5]

Officers promoted Vice-Admiral on or after 1 April, 1914 were retired after three years since their last service as a Flag Officer, but not until after one year on the list of Vice-Admirals.[5]

After 1 April, 1914, Flag Officers who reached the age of sixty without hoisting their flag were to be then retired. And Flag Officer who had not hoisted their flag for a period of seven years was to be retired at the expiration of such period.[5]

Officers who retired with the rank of Vice-Admiral were entitled to rise by seniority to the rank of Retired Admiral.[5]


  1. Order in Council of 22 February, 1870.
  2. Order in Council of 16 July, 1895.
  3. Order in Council of 29 November, 1898]].
  4. The Navy List. (February, 1888). p. 190.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Navy List (October, 1915). p. 815.