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1 The naval rank next below that of captain; in a large warship he is the executive officer and second in command. In the various branches of naval service (engineering, supply, medicine, etc.) the head of each branch on board a large ship would usually be of commander's rank. In smaller warships, such as frigates, submarines, etc., the commanding officer would normally be of commander's or lieutenant commander's rank.

Originally, in the British Navy, promotion to commander meant promotion to the command of a ship smaller than a ‘post’ ship, i.e. not a rated ship, and after 1814 the master aboard a warship was ranked master and commander as he was equivalent in rank to a commander. An officer promoted commander had the title of captain but not the actual full rank, only achieving this when he was posted to a rated ship as a post-captain. In some European navies the nomenclature is still retained for the equivalent rank of commander, e.g. the French capitaine de frégate, the German Fregatten-Kapitän, etc.

2 The name given to a large wooden-headed mallet used for heavy work on board ship.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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