(covers information from several alternate timelines)
Fleet admiral was a military rank, the equivalent of which was used by the service organizations of many civilizations. As a traditional grade, fleet admiral was the most senior flag officer rank of a naval organization, above all the flag admiral grades save for commander-in-chief. In comparison to army ranking systems, this rank was equivalent to the most senior general rank, such as Field Marshal or General of the Army.
In Starfleet, fleet admiral existed as a separate rank, but was also used as a title awarded and referring to officers wearing insignia of vice admiral or admiral, such as Fleet Admiral Shanthi. (TNG: "Redemption II")
The following admirals wore the insignia for the fleet admiral rank:
- Commander in chief named Bill
- Chief of staff named Bob
- Kirsten Clancy, commander in chief
- Alexander Marcus (alternate reality)
- Morrow, Commander, Starfleet
The following admirals were referred to as fleet admirals but wore the rank insignia for vice admiral:
|Enlisted personnel||Commissioned officers||Generals and flag officers|
|ENS||LT JG||LT||LT CMDR||CMDR||CAPT||FCAPT||CDORE||RADM||VADM||ADM||FADM|
|2nd LT||1st LT||CAPT||MAJ||LT COL||COL||BRIG||MAJ GEN||LT GEN||GEN||MARSHAL|
|Positions:||Boatswain • Chief • Corpsman • Engineer's mate • Specialist • Technician • Yeoman||TAC • SO • 3rd • 2nd • 1st • CO • DD||Portmaster • Chief of Staff • CinC|
|Services:||Andorian • Bajoran • Cardassian • Ferengi • Jem'Hadar • Klingon • Romulan • SS • United Earth MACO • United Earth/Federation Starfleet • United States • Vulcan|
Mirror universe: Terran Empire Starfleet • Terran Empire MACO
The first time that the rank of fleet admiral was mentioned in Star Trek was during TOS: "Space Seed" when Leonard McCoy, observing a dinner set for Khan Noonien Singh, commented that the ship must be expecting a fleet admiral for dinner. An actual fleet admiral was not seen on camera until the appearance of Fleet Admiral Morrow in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
Currently, in the United States Navy, the rank of fleet admiral (FADM) is inactive and has not been awarded since World War II. It is the equivalent of the United States Army's rank of general of the army (GA) with both ranks' insignia appearing as five stars arranged in a pentagonal shape.
Ranks senior to fleet admiral
There has never been a rank shown in a live action production senior to the Starfleet position of fleet admiral; however, there have been at least two senior ranks mentioned in non-canonical comic books and reference materials.
A senior rank of grand admiral has also appeared in Star Trek comic books, making its first mention in "The Wormhole Connection". The rank of grand admiral is said to have existed in 2285 and has a special uniform with shoulder boards worn on the red maroon jacket uniform. The rank also appeared in the novel The Sorrows of Empire, held first by the counterpart Garth, then by the counterpart Matt Decker and then by Spock, before he becomes Emperor of the Terran Empire. However, grand admiral is far better known in the Star Wars franchise, where it is held by the character of Grand Admiral Thrawn.
The title of Commander Starfleet, seemingly also senior to the rank of fleet admiral, appears to be more of a position than actual rank. This title has only ever been used canonically in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.