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June 20, 2013

Stolen Valor: Cap'n Crunch

A commenter was tired of the amnesty posts and suggested one about The Monster Cap'n Crunch.

This man (I use the term in a biological sense only) claims to be a captain -- or should I say, "Cap'n." yet:

Three stripes. Three stripes, not four.

The Navy has further exposed him:

" 'You are correct that Cap'n Crunch appears to be wearing the rank of a U.S. Navy commander,' Lt. Cmdr. Sarah Flaherty, a U.S. Navy spokeswoman, tells Foreign Policy. 'Oddly, our personnel records do not show a "Cap'n Crunch" who currently serves or has served in the Navy.' "

Here is how The Liar attempts to defend himself, on Twitter:

"So much fuss about my name. O, be some other name. What's in a name? That which we call Cap'n Crunch, by any other name would taste as sweet"

I passed on this story because I wasn't sure of the details, and I did not want to malign a service-member unduly.

I also passed on it because I thought that "Captain" is both a rank and a position. By which I mean, if you're the skipper of a boat, you're addressed as "captain" by your crew even if your actual rank is commander (or lower-- even a seaman can be a captain, I think, if pushed into that position by the deaths of ranking officers).

So it would not matter (if I'm right about this) that he's only a Commander; if he skippers his own boat, then he's also a Captain, at least on that boat.

Because "Captain" is an important position in addition to being a rank, the Navy has made up a different title, "Commodore," for those persons on board a ship who may have the rank of Captain but who are not actually captains of the ship they're on. It's important to know who the actual captain is, so if there's another captain aboard (or, I think, a technically higher-ranking officer like an admiral who is not, despite his higher rank, actually the captain of the ship), he gets called Commodore and not captain.

That's what I thought, anyway. So perhaps we're all rushing to judgment on this Cap'n Crunch affair. I don't know why he's not listed in the Navy's records but it's possible "Crunch" is a nickname, maybe given to him to emphasize his diligent work-habits and razor-cut abs, or perhaps given derogatorily by his men due to his erratic, obsessive behavior when a couple of messboys stole some Crunchberries from the ship's stocks.

Pushback: I see various definitions of "Commodore" in the comments (which might actually all be the same definition). I think I'm wrong (even though I got my definition from two unimpeachable sources -- Star Trek and Starship Troopers).

Wikipedia says...

Traditionally, "commodore" is the title for any officer assigned to command more than one ship at a time, even temporarily, much as "captain" is the traditional title for the commanding officer of a single ship even if the officer's official title in the service is a lower rank. As an official rank, a commodore typically commands a flotilla or squadron of ships as part of a larger task force or naval fleet commanded by an admiral.

It is often regarded as a one-star rank with a NATO code of OF-6 (which is known in the U.S. as "rear admiral (lower half)"), but whether it is regarded as a flag rank varies between countries.[1]

I can't find any citation to back up my belief that "commodore" serves as a rank of convenience to avoid a Two Captains on One Ship problem. Maybe Heinlein made that up, or maybe I'm just misremembering.

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posted by Ace at 01:10 PM

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