Midshipman - Other Countries

Other Countries

Today, ranks equivalent to midshipman exist in many countries. Using US midshipman or pre-fleet board UK midshipman as the basis for comparison, the equivalent rank would be a naval cadet in training to become a junior commissioned officer. Using post-fleet board UK midshipman for comparison, the rank would be the most junior commissioned officer in the rank structure, and similar to a US ensign in role and responsibility.

The Dutch navy has since the early 17th century included a midshipman rank which literally means 'young gentleman' (Dutch: Adelborst); today, adelborsten train at the Royal Netherlands Naval College (Dutch: Koninklijk Instituut voor de Marine) for 3 years. Officer cadets in the German navy begin their training at the Naval Academy at Mürwik (German: Marineschule Mürwik) holding enlisted ranks with the qualifier officer candidate (German: Offizieranwärter), abbreviated as OA. After about a year, they are promoted to Seekadetten, equivalent to the non-commissioned officer (NCO) rank Mate (German: Maat), and move to the University of the German Federal Armed Forces. About nine months later, they are promoted to Fähnrich zur See rank, equivalent to the NCO rank Boatswain (German: Bootsmann). After 30 months of total training they are promoted to the final officer candidate rank, Oberfähnrich zur See, equivalent to the NCO rank Hauptbootsmann, and after about 4 years of total training graduate with a Bachelor's degree.

In many romance languages, the literal translation of the local term for "midshipman" into English is "Navy Guard", including the French garde-marine, Spanish guardia marina, Portuguese guarda-marinha, and Italian guardiamarina. These ranks all refer to young naval officer cadets, but the selection, training, and responsibilities of each diverge from the British tradition. The French rank of garde de la marine was established in 1670, when an office of the monarchy selected young gentlemen from the nobility to serve the King in the Gardes de la Marine. The concept of the Gardes was borrowed from the various guards units within the Maison militaire du roi de France. In 1686 these guards were organized into companies of cadets at the ports of Brest, Rochefort and Toulon. Unlike midshipmen in the Royal Navy, the Gardes trained mostly on shore and focused on military drill and theory rather than practical skills in gunnery, navigation and seamanship. After the succession of the Bourbon Phillip V of Spain to the Spanish throne, the French system of naval officer education spread to Spain. The Spanish navy created the rank of guardia marina in 1717, with the formation at Cadiz of the Royal Company of Midshipmen (Spanish: Real Compañía de Guardias Marinas).

By restricting the French officer corps to members of the nobility, there were not enough Gardes to man all of the ships during wartime. To fill the gaps, volunteers were temporarily recruited from the merchant service; they were allowed to hold permanent rank in the navy starting in 1763. These professional officers wore blue uniforms to distinguish them from the Gardes de la Marine who wore red uniforms. After the revolution, the royal connotations of the term garde marine led to its replacement with aspirant (officer cadet), and later élèves de la Marine (naval officer candidate). Contemporary French naval officer training still reflects this structure: students at the École navale begin their the first year as élève-officier, are promoted in their second year to aspirant, and in their third year are commissioned as an acting sub-lieutenant (French: Enseigne de vaisseau de deuxième classe). In a modern French-English dictionary, élève officier translates to midshipman, but both the historical term garde-marine and the modern term for an officer candidate, aspirant, are also equivalent to midshipman.

In most Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, officers begin training at the rank of naval cadet, called aspirante in both languages. They are promoted to the rank guardia marina/guarda-marinha during training (in Spain and Brazil) or after graduation (in Portugal). Similarly, in Italy naval officer cadets, called allievo dell'accademia navale, are promoted to the rank of aspirante guardiamarina in their final year, and the lowest rank of commissioned officer is guardiamarina, both terms which translate to midshipman.

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