Commander is also a generic term for an officer commanding any armed forces unit, for example "platoon commander", "brigade commander" and "squadron commander". In the police, terms such as "borough commander" and "incident commander" are used.
The title (originally "Master and Commander") originated in the 18th century Royal Navy for naval officers who commanded ships of war too large to be commanded by a Lieutenant but too small to warrant the assignment of a Post-captain.
In practice, these were usually unrated sloops-of-war of no more than 20 guns. The Royal Navy shortened "Master and Commander" to "Commander" in 1794; however, the term "Master and Commander" remained in common use for many years. A corresponding rank in some navies is frigate captain. In the 20th and 21st centuries, the rank has been assigned the NATO rank code of OF-4.
A Commander in the Royal Navy is above the rank of Lieutenant-Commander, below the rank of Captain. It is equivalent in rank to a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army and Wing Commander in the Royal Air Force. A Commander may command a frigate, destroyer, submarine, aviation squadron or shore installation, or may serve on a staff.
In NASA spacecraft missions since the beginning of Project Gemini, one crew member on each spacecraft is designated as mission commander. The commander is the captain of the ship, and makes all real-time critical decisions on behalf of the crew and in coordination with the Mission Control Center (MCC).
Use in aviation
The title of aircraft commander is used in civil aviation to refer to the pilot in command (commonly referred to as "captain", which is technically an airline rank and not related to the commander's role on board the aircraft).
British police rank
Australian police rank
In Australia, commander is a rank used by the Victorian, Tasmanian, Western Australian, South Australian, and Australian Federal police forces. The insignia consists of a crown over three bath stars in a triangular formation, equivalent to a brigadier in the army.
United States police rank
The Los Angeles Police Department, San Francisco Police Department, and Hawai'i County Police Department are three of the few US police departments which use this rank.
Canadian police rank
The Montreal police force, Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, uses the rank of commander.
Incident Command System
In the Incident Command System the incident commander is in charge of the response to an emergency. The title may pass from person to person as the incident develops.
The title of Commander is used in chivalric orders such as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta for a member senior to a knight. The title of knight commander is often used to denote an even higher rank.
In common usage
"Commander" may sometimes be used by laymen, usually applied to the person who is accountable for and holds authority over a group or the attempts of a group to achieve a common goal.
Images for kids
Commander Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.