Mate (Royal Navy)

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Mate was a commissioned rank of the Royal Navy introduced in 1912 as a means of promotion from the Lower Deck to the Quarterdeck. It was also the name of the rank of Sub-Lieutenant until 1863.


The rank of Mate was instituted by Order in Council of 19 July, 1912. Mates ranked with Sub-Lieutenants,[1] and not Lieutenant as historian David Wragg would have it.[2]

Of the 371 Mates promoted up to the time of the Armistice, only twenty-seven remained on the Active List by 18 March, 1937, two of whom were Captains and ten Commanders. 139 retired under the "Geddes Axe" in 1922.[3]

Vice-Admiral Sir Benjamin Martin became the first Mate to reach the rank of Rear-Admiral in 1944. By one measure, he was the first officer from the lower deck to achieve Flag Rank on the Active List for eighty-seven years.[4]


  1. The Navy List (October, 1915). p. 951a.
  2. Wragg. Royal Navy Handbook, 1914-1918, p. 156.
  3. "From the Lower Deck" (News). The Times. Thursday, 18 March, 1937. Issue 47636, col G, p. 17.
  4. "From Lower Deck to Flag List" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Thursday, 13 July, 1944. Issue 49907, col C, p. 2.


  • Wragg, David (2006). Royal Navy Handbook, 1914-1918. Thrupp: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0750942037.