Saudi Arabia: The Royal Saudi Navy


Abdullah and I had a dear friend who was a career officer in the Royal Saudi Navy.  When we were all together in Pakistan this friend held the position as the Defense Attache at the Royal Saudi Embassy in Islamabad.  The three of us would get together and have a great time playing cards or other games.  I’m saddened to say that shortly after his return to Riyadh he suffered a massive heart attack and passed away.

When thinking of Saudi Arabia and its Armed Forces, one probably does not think of the Navy first.  Yet Saudi Arabia has a very impressive navy.  It was founded in 1960 and in 1972 is began a significant expansion with assistance from the United States aiming to match the Imperial Iranian Navy. Further expansion of the Saudi Navy took place with French assistance after the Iranian Revolution. Further vessels were purchased from Britain and France in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The U.S. defense contractor Science Applications International  Corporation (SAIC) worked with the Saudi Navy to design and integrate command, control and communications centers (C3).

The Saudi Navy has an impressive command of frigates, ships, corvettes, control boats, minesweepers, support vessels and others.

With its headquarters in Riyadh, the Royal Saudi Navy has bases in Jeddah, Jubail and Damman.

The ranks of the Royal Saudi Navy are similar to the rankings of Western Naval forces:



  • Ensign (Arabic:ملازم)
  • Lieutenant Junior Grade (Arabic:ملازم أول)
  • Lieutenant (Arabic:نقيب)
  • Lieutenant-Commander (Arabic:رائد)
  • Commander (Arabic:مقدم)
  • Captain (Arabic:عقيد)
  • Commodore (Arabic:عميد)
  • Rear-Admiral (Arabic:لواء)
  • Vice-Admiral (Arabic:فريق)
  • Admiral (Arabic:فريق أول)


  • Private (Arabic:جندي)
  • First Class Private (Arabic:جندي أول)
  • Corporal (Arabic:عريف)
  • Vice Sergeant (Arabic:وكيل رقيب)
  • Sergeant (Arabic:رقيب)
  • First Class Sergeant (Arabic:رقيب أول)
  • Master Sergeant (Arabic:رئيس رقباء)

4 Responses

  1. I worked for SAIC in Washington years ago (early 90’s). SAIC has had contracts with the Royal Saudi Navy for years (through the US Navy and FMS I believe). No one expected me to understand Arabic, so our management would often put me in the room to “listen in” on the Saudis’ comments. I was impressed by the Saudi officers’ knowledge – AND of how they put both the USN and SAIC reps on the spot about adherence to their contracts. Tee hee.

  2. Thanks for sharing Desert Girl – interesting!

  3. Arabs always seem really surprised when they learn you understand Arabic.

  4. Yeah, Greeks are the same. I guess they are probably all the same.

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