Ranks in the French Navy
The rank insignia of the French Navy (French: Marine Nationale) are worn on shoulder straps of shirts and white jackets, and on sleeves for navy jackets and mantels. Until 2005, only commissioned officers had an anchor on their insignia, but enlisted personnel are now receiving them as well. Although the names of the ranks for superior officers contain the word "Capitaine" (Capitaine de corvette, Capitaine de frégate and Capitaine de vaisseau), the appropriate style to address them is "Commandant", "Capitaine" referring to "lieutenant de vaisseau", which is translated as lieutenant. The two highest ranks, Vice-amiral d'escadre and Amiral (Admiral), are functions, rather than ranks. They are assumed by officers ranking Vice-Amiral (Vice-Admiral).
The rank of Vice-Admiral of France (French: Vice-Amiral) was formerly designated as Lieutenant-General of the Naval Armies until 1791, such as in the Levant Fleet and Flotte du Ponant of the Ancien Régime. Major of the French Navy has a similar history to that of the former Lieutenant-General of the Naval Armies.
The only Amiral de la Flotte (Admiral of the Fleet) was François Darlan after he was refused the dignity of Admiral of France. Equivalent to the dignity of Marshal of France, the rank of Admiral of France remains theoretical in the Fifth Republic; it was last granted in 1869, during the Second Empire, but retained during the Third Republic until the death of its bearer in 1873. The title of Amiral de la Flotte was created so that Darlan would not have an inferior rank to that of his counterpart in the British Royal Navy, who was an Admiral of the Fleet.
Petty officers and enlisted personnel
Personnel with a particular attribution may wear distinctive features on their rank insignia. For instance, medical officers bear two red stripes on their insignia. Similarly, the Ingénieur des études et techniques de travaux maritimes wear pearl-grey stripes.
Peintres de la Marine, who are not employed by the navy but have a special status, wear a uniform and officer straps with rank insignia replaced with the words "Peintre officiel".