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Fleet admiral (United States)

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Title: Fleet admiral (United States)  
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Subject: List of United States Navy four-star admirals, General of the Army (United States), Admiral (United States), United States Navy officer rank insignia, Personnel of the United States Navy
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Fleet admiral (United States)

Flag of the Fleet Admiral of the United States Navy.
Fleet Admiral collar device, shoulder board, and sleeve stripes.

Fleet Admiral (FADM)[1] was a five-star flag officer rank in the United States Navy, and was in its time the highest rank attainable in the service. Fleet Admiral ranked immediately above Admiral and was equivalent to General of the Army and General of the Air Force.

The Fleet Admiral rank was created by Congress to be granted to four people during the World War II era. There has been no authorization to use the rank since. Mistakenly, many believe that the rank is still in existence but reserved for wartime use (this error even appears on some official rank charts), though no legal provisions ever existed for its use other than for the four officers appointed to it.

In 1903, a special rank of Spanish–American War (1898) but it ceased to exist after his death on 16 January 1917. Similar to Fleet Admiral, it was not a permanent addition to the rank structure and it was never reused. Since Fleet Admiral and Admiral of the Navy were both one-time use ranks created at different times and not used concurrently, they have no equivalence or relationship of seniority to one another.

The insignia for a Fleet Admiral was composed of five silver stars in a pentagonal design. Worn on the service dress uniform sleeve was a gold stripe two inches wide surrounding the sleeve two inches from the cuff with four half-inch stripes placed at 1/4 inch intervals. The single gold five-pointed star, one ray down, worn above the top stripe was not part of the rank per se but indicated the wearer to be a line officer.

Fleet Admirals of the United States Navy

The United States rank of Fleet Admiral was created by an Act of Congress for four officers to hold on a temporary basis under Pub.L. 78-482 on December 14, 1944.[2] The rank was made permanent for the four individual holders by Pub.L. 79–333 on March 23, 1946, but that law made no provision to establish the rank itself permanently.[3] Although Congress authorized the promotion of Omar Bradley to the five star rank of General of the Army in 1950 while serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff so that he would be of the same rank as General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the theater commander in Korea, there has been no new legislation authorizing the use of the rank of Fleet Admiral since 1946.

It was held during and after World War II by the following officers:

The timing of the first three appointments was carefully planned, such that a clear order of seniority and a near-equivalence between the services was established for the Generals of the Army promoted at the same time. General Marshall was promoted to General of the Army on December 16, 1945; General MacArthur was promoted on December 18, 1944; General Eisenhower was promoted on December 20, 1944, and General Arnold was promoted on December 21, 1944. He would later be laterally promoted to General of the Air Force on May 7, 1949 after the Air Force was created as a separate service as part of the National Defense Act of 1947.

A close contender to receive the rank of Fleet Admiral was Admiral Raymond A. Spruance. However, U.S. Representative Carl Vinson, a strong supporter of Admiral Halsey, reportedly blocked the final promotion of Spruance to Fleet Admiral on several occasions. However, Congress then responded by passing an Act of Congress, unprecedented for an individual, that stated that Admiral Spruance would receive a full four-star admiral's salary during the remainder of his life.

According to Public Law 78-482, Fleet Admirals on active duty receive the same pay as a Rear Admiral, upper half (two star) plus a $5,000 personal allowance, and upon retirement were to receive 75% of their active duty pay.[4] When Public Law 79-333 made the rank permanent for Leahy, King, Nimitz, and Halsey, it also provided for full pay and allowances once those officers retired.[5]

See also


  1. ^ s:Public Law 78-482 Pub.L. 78-482 – To establish the grade of Fleet Admiral for the United States Navy; to establish the grade of General of the Army, and for other purposes.
  2. ^ "An Act to establish the grade of Fleet Admiral for the United States Navy; to establish the grade of General of the Army, and for other purposes". 14 December 1944. Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  3. ^ "Public Law 333, 79th Congress". Frequently Asked Questions.  
  4. ^ s:Public Law 78-482 Pub.L. 78-482 – To establish the grade of Fleet Admiral for the United States Navy; to establish the grade of General of the Army, and for other purposes.
  5. ^ "Public Law 333, 79th Congress". Frequently Asked Questions.  
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