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definition - Ensign (rank)

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Ensign (rank)

                   
Common anglophone military ranks
Navies Armies Air forces
Officers
Admiral of the fleet Marshal /
field marshal
Marshal of
the Air Force
Admiral General Air marshal
Commodore Brigadier Air commodore
Captain Colonel Group captain
Commander Lieutenant colonel Wing commander
Lieutenant
commander
Major /
commandant
Squadron
leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight lieutenant
Sub-lieutenant Lieutenant Flying officer
Ensign 2nd lieutenant Pilot officer
Midshipman Officer cadet Officer cadet
Seamen, soldiers and airmen
Warrant officer Sergeant major Warrant officer
Petty officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading seaman Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private Aircraftman

Ensign (play /ˈɛnsən/) is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank itself acquired the name.

"Ensign" is enseigne in French, Fähnrich in German (whereby despite the fact that "Fähnrich" has a parallel etymology, it is not a junior officer but only an officer cadet rank), and chorąży in Polish, each of which derives from a term for a flag. The Spanish alférez and Portuguese alferes is a junior officer rank below lieutenant associated with carrying the flag, and so is often translated as "ensign". Unlike the rank in other languages, its etymology has nothing to do with flags.

The NATO rank code is OF-1 (junior).

Contents

  Argentina

In Argentina, the rank of ensign is used by both the air force and the gendarmerie. It is, however, used differently in the two services. The air force uses the rank for newly qualified officers, while the gendarmerie uses "ensign" ranks as an equivalent for the army's "lieutenant" ranks.

Argentine Air Force Rank Argentine Gendarmerie Rank Equivalent Commonwealth Ranks for comparison
------------- ------------- -------------
Ensign Sub-Ensign Acting Pilot Officer / 2nd Lieutenant
Lieutenant Ensign Pilot Officer / 2nd Lieutenant
First Lieutenant First Ensign Flying Officer / Lieutenant

The other armed forces of Argentina have ranks equivalent to ensign: subteniente (which can be translated into English as "sub-lieutenant") in the army and guardiamarina (midshipman) in the navy".[1] In the army, the most junior sub-lieutenant in a regiment (or other unit) is also the flag carrier.

  France and Canada

  Enseigne de vaisseau de première classe
  Enseigne de vaisseau de deuxième classe

In France of the Ancien Régime, like in other countries, the ensign (enseigne) was the banner of an infantry regiment.[2] As in other countries, the name began to be used for the officers who carried the ensign. It was renamed sub-lieutenant (sous-lieutenant) in the end of the 18th century. The Navy used a rank of ship-of-the-line ensign (enseigne de vaisseau), which was the first officer rank. It was briefly renamed ship-of-the-line sub-lieutenant (sous-lieutenant de vaisseau) in the end of the 18th century, but its original name was soon restored.

Nowadays, the rank is still used in the Marine Nationale: Ship-of-the-line ensign (enseigne de vaisseau) is the name of the two lowest officer ranks (which are distinguished as from one another as "first class", equal to an army lieutenant, and "second class", equal to an army sub-lieutenant.) Both ranks of ensign use the style lieutenant.

French-speaking Canadian Naval officers also use the terms of enseigne de vaisseau de deuxième classe and de première classe as the French term for acting sub-lieutenant and sub-lieutenant respectively. However, French-Canadian sub-lieutenants use the short form of enseigne instead of lieutenant.

  Austria and Germany

  German Army and Air Force rank insignia
  Austrian Army rank insignia

Ensign (German: Oberfähnrich zur See) is a German and (German: Fähnrich) is a Austrian officer cadet rank. A German ensign is a non-commissioned officer promoted from the rank of Fahnenjunker. A Fähnrich rank is equivalent to a Feldwebel (Staff Sergeant), but with additional responsibilities. If successful, he may be promoted to Oberfähnrich (equivalent to Hauptfeldwebel, or Sergeant First Class), before being made an officer. The German rank "Fähnrich" should not be translated into English with "Ensign" to avoid the possible misconception that this would be an officer's rank, whereby the English navy rank "Ensign" must not be translated with "Fähnrich" but only with "Oberfähnrich zur See" which is the German equivalent.

The word Fähnrich comes from an older German military title, Fahnenträger (literally: "flag carrier"), and first became a distinct military rank on 1 January 1899.

  New Zealand

  Shoulder insignia of an RNZN ensign

The Royal New Zealand Navy, unlike the Royal Navy—whose uniforms, insignia, and traditions it copies—created the ensign grade to equal the lowest commissioned RNZAF grade of pilot officer and the New Zealand Army grade of second lieutenant. It ranks above the grade of midshipman. Like the grade of pilot officer, it uses a single thin strip of braid.

The fact that the Royal Navy has no real equivalent to the lowest commissioned Royal Air Force and British Army grades was the driving factor behind the RNZN's decision to create the ensign grade, as well as the fact that at the time New Zealand was actively involved with the United States Armed Forces, it also made sense to balance the rank system out with that used by the United States Navy.

  Norway

  Norwegian Navy fenrik insignia
  Norwegian Army and Home Guard fenrik insignia

The Royal Norwegian Navy, the Norwegian Army and the Royal Norwegian Air Force's equivalent of ensign is fenrik (the rank below lieutenant). It was previously referred to as second lieutenant (Norwegian: Sekondløytnant), while the rank of lieutenant was called premier lieutenant.

The rank is obtained after attending befalsskolen for one year, from which the candidate emerges as a sergeant, and serving as a sergeant for one additional year. The rank is known to have been temporarily given to soldiers with rank equivalent of non-commissioned officers, showing skill-set's and performance beyond their rank, in contract based operative service (UN, NATO). This is highly uncommon and the rank is reverted after the contract period ends.

A fenrik serves as a NATO (OF-1) second lieutenant, but the function of the rank differs drastically from other armies. Although it is an officer rank, it strongly resembles an NCO-rank in practice. Fenriks are usually former experienced sergeants without officer education, and usually fill such roles as squad leaders and platoon sergeants. This is due to the lack of an NCO-corps in the Norwegian Army.

The historical background for this is that Norway's NCO-corps was discontinued on 1 July 1975, and the senior NCOs currently serving were given officer ranks. NCOs ranking as oversersjant were given the officer rank of fenrik, NCOs ranking as stabssersjant were given the rank of lieutenant, and - in accordance with "Hærordningen av 1. januar 1977" - the most senior of the NCOs ranking as stabsserjant were given the rank of captain.

The corresponding ranks for the Royal Norwegian Navy were overkvartermester (kvartermester I klasse) and flaggkvartermester.

The corresponding ranks for the Royal Norwegian Air Force were vingsersjant and stabssersjant.

The rank insignia is worn on the sleeves (navy dress uniform only), on the shoulders of service uniforms or - more recently - on the chest. The chest placement is of newer date, and was introduced with the M-2000 uniform, which is worn by both noncommissioned ranks and officers in all branches of the Norwegian Defence.

  Poland

The Polish Army equivalent of "ensign" is "chorąży" (the Polish for "ensign" or "flag" being "chorągiew"). In Poland "ensign" is not an officer rank - it's NCO-equivalent. Before the 2007 reform chorąży formed a separate corps above the NCOs. They have following, different ranks of ensign:

  1. Junior ensign Junior ensign
  2. Ensign Ensign
  3. Senior ensign Senior ensign
  4. Senior staff ensign Senior staff ensign

  Romania

The Romanian Navy equivalent of "ensign" is aspirant.

  Russia

The present-day Russian Army linguistic equivalent is the non-commissioned officer (NCO) rank of praporshchik (Russian: пра́порщик), and the Russian Navy equivalent is mitshman (Russian: ми́чман).

  Slovakia

In The Armed Forces of the Slovak Republic equivalent is práporčík.

  United Kingdom

In Thomas Venn's 1672 Military and Maritime Discipline in Three Books the duties of Ensigns are to include not only carrying the colour but assisting the Captain and Lieutenant of a company and in their absence, have their authority.[3]

Until 1871, when it was replaced by second lieutenant, ensign was the lowest rank of commissioned officer in infantry regiments of the British Army (except fusilier and rifle regiments, which always used second lieutenant). It was the duty of officers of this rank to carry the colours of the regiment. In the 16th century "ensign" was corrupted into "ancient", and was used in the two senses of a banner and the bearer of the banner. Today, the term "ensign" is still used by the Foot Guards regiments, for instance during the ceremony of trooping the colour. The equivalent cavalry rank was cornet, also being derived from the name of a banner.

  United States

  Insignia of an ensign, United States Navy

The ranks of ensign and cornet were abolished in the United States Army in 1800.[4]

In the United States Navy, the rank of "ensign" superseded passed midshipman in 1862. It is the most junior commissioned officer in the navy, the coast guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps, and Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. The rank is also used in the United States Maritime Service and the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps. It ranks below lieutenant junior grade and is also equivalent to a second lieutenant in the Army, Marine Corps, and the Air Force.

Depending upon the warfare community, an ensign may go directly to a ship after commissioning to serve as a division officer or receive one to two years of specialty training prior to reporting to an operational unit. Ensigns who become division officers are responsible for leading a group of petty officers and enlisted personnel in one of the ship's divisions (for example, engineering or navigation) while at the same time receiving on-the-job training in leadership, naval systems, programs and policies from enlisted sailors and other officers.

Navy and Coast Guard ensigns wear collar insignia of a single gold bar and because of this share the nickname "butterbars" with Army, Air Force, and Marine Second Lieutenants, who wear similar insignia.

Within the US Public Health Service, those wearing the rank of ensign are part of a commissioned officer student training and extern program (COSTEP), either junior, for those with more than a year remaining of education in a commissionable degree (JRCOSTEP), or senior, for those within one year of graduating with a commissionable degree (SRCOSTEP).[5] Some commissioned officers may hold a permanent rank of ensign based on their experience and education, but hold a temporary rank of lieutenant, junior grade.

  See also

  References

  1. ^ Argentine Army official website, ranks of the army compared with those of the air force and navy
  2. ^ The cavalry regiments used the term cornette (cornet) and the dragoons regiments used guidon.
  3. ^ Venn, Thomas; Tacquet, Andrew & (tr) Lacey, John (translator) Military and Maritime Discipline in Three Books R Pawlet, 1672
  4. ^ http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/armyorank/blcptlt.htm
  5. ^ http://www.usphs.gov/student/
  • Division Officer's Guide. James Stavridis and Robert Girrier. Naval Institute Press, 2004. ISBN 1-59114-799-9.

  External links


   
               

 

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