Naval Officer Titles

Captain is the senior-most commissioned officer rank below that of flag officer (Admiral). Reflecting its nautical heritage, it also sometimes used as a military "title" by more junior officers who are serving as the commanding officer (CO) of a commissioned vessel of the U.S. Navy of patrol boat size or greater.

Any naval officer who commands a ship is addressed by naval custom as "captain" while aboard in command, regardless of their actual rank.

Officers with the rank of Captain should be addressed by their rank and name (e.g., "Captain Smith"), but they should not be referred to as "the captain" to avoid confusion with the vessel's captain.

Executive Officer (XO)

The XO is typically responsible managing day-to-day activities, such as maintenance and logistics. They support the Commanding Officer freeing them to concentrate on tactical planning and execution. The XO also takes charge in the absence of the Commanding Officer.


Traditionally, "commodore" is the title for any officer assigned to command more than one ship at a time, much as "captain" is the traditional title for the commanding officer of a single ship.

Commander is a senior officer rank, above lieutenant commander, and below captain. A commander in the U.S. Navy may command a frigate, destroyer, submarine, aviation squadron or small shore activity.
Chief Engineer (Cheng)

The Engineering Department maintains the ship’s power plants. It also provides all life support systems, fresh water, heating, air conditioning, ventilation, hot water, electrical power, telephone service, and maintains the ship’s sewage system. The ship’s Chief Engineer, or "Cheng", heads this department.

Communications Officer (COMMO)

The COMMO runs the Communications Department which sends and receives messages to and from other ships, aircraft and shore facilities via various sophisticated electronic equipment including computers, satellites, cryptographic devices, and high power transmitters and receivers.

Officer of the deck (OOD)
At sea, the officer of the deck is stationed on the bridge and is in charge of navigation and safety of the ship, unless relieved by the captain or a senior qualified line officer. The Officer of the Deck may give 'the conn' to a junior officer for training purposes, in which case the Officer of the Deck and the conning officer may not be the same individual.
Conning Officer
The conning officer only has responsibility for giving the helm instructions on direction and thrust of the ship's engines. The OOD retains responsibility for the ship's safe passage.
Navigator (Gator)
A navigator is the person on board a ship responsible for its navigation. The navigator's primary responsibility is to be aware of ship position at all times. Responsibilities include planning the journey, advising the captain of estimated timing to destinations while en route, and ensuring hazards are avoided.
Tactical Action Officer (TAO)
Responsibilities include tactical decision making, console operation, communications, and oversight of a variety of watchstander responsibilities in air, surface, and subsurface warfare areas.
this list is not complete
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