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List of United States Navy enlisted rates

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Title: List of United States Navy enlisted rates  
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Subject: Uniforms of the United States Navy, List of United States Navy ratings, United States Armed Forces, United States Navy officer rank insignia, United States Coast Guard officer rank insignia
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List of United States Navy enlisted rates

A United States Navy enlisted rate indicates where an enlisted Sailor stands within the chain of command, and also defines one's pay grade. An enlisted sailor's rate is similar conceptually to a naval officer's rank. Only Naval Officers carry the term "rank" in the Navy. The word rate refers to an enlisted sailor's pay grade, while the word rating refers to one's area of occupational specialization within the enlisted Navy. Associated with the enlisted pay grades is a numbering system from the most junior enlisted sailor ("E-1") to the most senior enlisted sailor ("E-9"). This enlisted numbering system is the same across all five branches of the U.S. Military.[1] Rates are displayed on a rating badge, which is a combination of rate and rating. E-2s and E-3s have color-coded group rate marks based on their career field. Personnel in pay grade E-1, since 1996, do not have an insignia to wear.[2]

Ratings are earned through "A" schools, which are attended before deployment and after undergoing initial basic training at Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois, or (less commonly) by "striking" for a rating through OJT in the Fleet. Some members may undergo additional training in a "C" school either before or after a tour of duty. Upon completion, they are assigned a four-digit Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) code, which identifies a specific skill within their standard rating. This defines what jobs they are qualified to do. For example, some billets might not only require a Corpsman First Class, but might specify that he/she has NEC 8402 (Submarine Force Independent Duty), NEC 8403 (Fleet Marine Forces Reconnaissance Independent Duty Corpsman) or any other of several NECs depending upon the billet's requirements.[3]

The rating symbols depicted for each rating badge listed below (except for the rating badge of the Command Master Chief) is Boatswain's Mate.[2]


Utilities rating badge (no longer in use)

The rating badge is worn on the left upper sleeve for the dress blues or "crackerjacks" and the dress whites as well as the Navy pea coat (optional). The background color and material of the patch matches the uniform on which it is worn. On the coverall and camouflage uniforms, a pair of smaller rate patches are worn on the collar tips; as with the utility uniform, the rating symbol is left off.[4]

Those Petty Officers and above who meet good conduct requirements for twelve consecutive years are authorized to wear the gold variations of their respective rating badges.

E-1 to E-3

Sailors in pay grades E-1 through E-3 are considered to be in apprenticeships.[5] They are divided into five definable groups, with colored group rate marks designating the group to which they belong: Seaman, Fireman, Airman, Constructionman, and Hospitalman. One of three apprentice devices may be worn above the rank insignia, which denotes the sailor is an apprentice in a particular field and is in search of a rating to join.[4] Sailors who have gone directly to a base, station, or ship without any specialized training are eligible to select a career field, and through correspondence courses and extensive on-the-job training, may qualify for a rating. This process is called "striking for a rate." If an enlisted member has qualified for a rate, but has not yet become a petty officer, he is called a designated striker, and is identified by a striker's badge that displays the sailor's rating, along with his group rate marks.[1] The serviceperson is addressed by one's group designation, if known (e.g., Fireman Jones, Constructionman Apprentice Smith); by the generic appellation 'seaman'; or by one's striker designation (Boatswain's Mate Seaman Watson, Culinary Specialist Seaman Recruit Johnson).[5]

Boatswain's Mate Seaman's patch
Sleeve insignia Collar device Rate title Pay grade Abbreviation NATO code
Seaman Recruit / Hospitalman Recruit E-1 SR / HR OR-1
Fireman Recruit E-1 FR OR-1
Airman Recruit E-1 AR OR-1
Constructionman Recruit E-1 CR OR-1
Seaman Apprentice / Hospitalman Apprentice E-2 SA / HA OR-2
Fireman Apprentice E-2 FA OR-2
Airman Apprentice E-2 AA OR-2
Constructionman Apprentice E-2 CA OR-2
Seaman / Hospitalman E-3 SN / HN OR-3
Fireman E-3 FN OR-3
Airman E-3 AN OR-3
Constructionman E-3 CN OR-3

E-4 to E-6

Petty Officers wearing service dress blue uniforms displaying both red and gold rating badges and service stripes.

E-4 to E-6 are non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and are specifically called Petty Officers in the Navy.[4] Petty Officers perform not only the duties of their specific career field but also serve as leaders to junior enlisted personnel. They must take responsibility for their subordinates, address grievances, inform the chain of command on matters pertaining to good order and discipline, and may even have to place personnel on report.[6] The title Petty Officer comes from the French word petit, meaning something small. In medieval England, villages had several "petite" or "petty" officers who were subordinate to major officials. Thus, Petty Officers are assistants to senior officers.[7]

Petty Officers have been an important part of the U. S. Navy since its beginning. They were originally appointed by the ship's captain and usually held such appointments while serving under the captain who selected them. The Petty Officers of this time did not have uniforms or a rank insignia.[7] In 1841 a rate badge was assigned, consisting of a sleeve device displaying an eagle perched on an anchor. Rating marks did not appear until 1866.[7]

From 1885 to 1894, the Navy recognized three classes of Petty Officers—first, second, and third. These noncommissioned officers were authorized to wear a "rate" (rank) insignia consisting of chevrons pointing down under a spread eagle and a rating mark.[7] Unlike the current rate badge, the eagle faced right instead of left.[4] The current insignia for Petty Officers came about in 1894, and is a perched eagle with spread wings facing left (usually referred to as a "crow," due to its black color on white uniforms and the outdated dungaree working uniforms) atop a rating mark, with chevrons denoting their rank below.[4]

The authority to wear gold rating badges and service stripes on the dress blue and working coverall uniform is granted when a sailor completes and maintains twelve consecutive years of honorable service without any official record of bad conduct due to punitive action via non-judicial punishment or courts martial. The gold rating badges and service stripes are distinct from the Good Conduct Medal, which is awarded for three years of honorable service.[8]

Coloration of the insignia for E-4 through E-9 depends upon the uniform worn. Black cloth with red or gold embroidered stripes is used on the winter uniforms, while white cloth with black embroidered stripes is used on the summer uniforms, and medium blue cloth with red or gold embroidered stripes is used on the working coverall.[4]

Sleeve insignia Collar device Rate title Pay grade Abbreviation NATO code
Petty Officer Third Class E-4 PO3 OR-4
Petty Officer Second Class E-5 PO2 OR-5
Petty Officer First Class E-6 PO1 OR-6

E-7 to E-9

E-7 to E-9 are still considered Petty Officers, but are considered a separate community within the Navy. They have separate berthing and dining facilities (where feasible), wear separate uniforms, and perform separate duties. Advancement to Chief Petty Officer (E-7) or above requires a board review by existing Master Chief Petty Officers beyond the normal examination score and performance evaluation process. The annual list of Chief selectees is authorized by Congress, leading CPOs to sometimes state, "it took an act of Congress to put these anchors here, it will take an act of Congress to take them off." However it only takes a Court Martial to "bust a Chief". More appropriately a Chief is the backbone of the Navy, and only Senior Chiefs, Master Chiefs and Admirals wear stars. [9]

The proper form of address to a Chief Petty Officer is "Chief", "Senior Chief" (or "Senior"), or "Master Chief" according to their rating.[10] In the U. S. Navy, the Chief is specifically tasked, in writing, with the duty of training Junior Officers (Ensign, Lieutenant (j.g.), Lieutenant). [11]

Although the title "Chief" has been around since the Continental Navy in 1776, the Chief Petty Officer rate was not established until 1 April 1893. At that time nearly all enlisted members who had carried the rate of Petty Officer First Class since 1885 were advanced to Chief Petty Officer, with the exception of Schoolmasters, Ship's Writers, and Carpenter's Mates.[9]

The rates Senior Chief and Master Chief were established on 1 June 1958. To be eligible for advancement to Senior Chief, a Chief Petty Officer must have had three years in the current grade. For advancement to Master Chief, a Senior Chief must have a total of three years in the current grade.

The dress blue insignia consists of a perched eagle or "crow" with spread wings atop a rating mark, with three chevrons and one 'rocker' above the rating mark. Inverted five-point stars above the crow denote the rank of Senior Chief (one star) or Master Chief (two stars). All other uniforms use the collar device to denote rank. It consists of a fouled anchor (an anchor that is entangled with its chain)[12] with the initials U S N in silver, superimposed, with stars above the anchor to indicate higher pay grades, similar to the dress blue insignia.[13]

Sleeve insignia Collar device Rate title Pay grade Abbreviation NATO code
Chief Petty Officer E-7 CPO OR-7
Senior Chief Petty Officer E-8 SCPO OR-8
Master Chief Petty Officer E-9 MCPO OR-9

Command Master Chief

After attaining the rate of Master Chief Petty Officer, a service member may choose to further his or her career by becoming a Command Master Chief Petty Officer (CMC). A CMC is considered to be the senior-most enlisted service member within a command, and is the special assistant to the Commanding Officer in all matters pertaining to the health, welfare, job satisfaction, morale, utilization, advancement and training of the command's enlisted personnel.[14][15] CMCs can be Command level (within a single unit, such as a ship or shore station), Fleet level (squadrons consisting of multiple operational units, headed by a flag officer or commodore), or Force level (consisting of a separate community within the Navy, such as Subsurface, Air, Reserves).[16]

CMC insignia are similar to the insignia for Master Chief, except that the rating symbol is replaced by an inverted five-point star, reflecting a change in their rating from their previous rating (i.e., MMCM) to CMDCM. The stars for Command Master Chief are silver, while stars for Fleet or Force Master Chief are gold. Additionally, CMCs wear a badge, worn on their left breast pocket, denoting their title (Command/Fleet/Force).[13][15]
Sleeve insignia Collar device Rate title Pay grade Abbreviation NATO code
Command Master Chief Petty Officer E-9 CMDCM OR-9
Fleet/Force Master Chief Petty Officer E-9 FLTCM/FORCM OR-9

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) is the senior enlisted person in the Navy, appointed by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) to serve as a spokesperson to address the issues of enlisted personnel to the highest positions in the Navy. The MCPON is the senior enlisted advisor to the Chief of Naval Operations and Chief of Naval Personnel.[17] Exact duties vary, depending on the CNO, though the duties generally include traveling throughout the Navy, observing training and talking to sailors and their families. The MCPON serves on several boards concerned with enlisted members, represents the Department of the Navy at special events, and may be called upon to testify before Congress regarding enlisted personnel issues.[18]

The position was originally established as "Senior Enlisted Advisor of the Navy" in January 1967[18] in response to a recommendation from the Secretary of the Navy's task force on Navy personnel retention.[17] Three months later, the title was officially changed to "Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy". The individual rating specialty marks for the MCPON was replaced by an inverted star in 1971.[18]

The MCPON's current insignia is similar to Fleet or Force CMCs, with the addition of a third star above the crow or anchor.[13]
Sleeve insignia Collar device Rate title Pay grade Abbreviation NATO code
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy E-9 MCPON OR-9

See also


  1. ^ a b "Navy Ranks". Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  2. ^ a b "Rate Insignia of Navy Enlisted Personnel". U. S. Navy. Retrieved 2007-01-25. 
  3. ^ Powers, Rod. "Hospital Corpsman - Navy NECs". Retrieved 4/5/12. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Enlisted Rate/Rating Insignia". United States Navy Uniform Regulations. BUPERS, U. S. Navy. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  5. ^ a b "Group rate marks for pay grades E-1 through E-3". U. S. Navy. Retrieved 2007-01-25. 
  6. ^ "Petty Officer responsibility". Military Requirements for Petty Officers Third and Second Class. Integrated Publishing. Retrieved 2007-01-27. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Traditions of the Naval Service (Petty Officer)". Naval Historical Center, United States Navy. Retrieved 2007-01-27. 
  8. ^ "Rate/Rank Insignia". United States Navy Uniform Regulations (PDF). BUPERS, U. S. Navy. Retrieved 2007-01-27. 
  9. ^ a b "Chief Petty Officer". Frequently Asked Questions. Naval Historical Center, U. S. Navy. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  10. ^ "Military Courtesy—Relations With the Command Master Chief". Naval Orientation. Integrated Publishing. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  11. ^ "Navy Enlisted Advancement System - Chief Petty Officer (E-7)". Navy Professional Development Center, Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  12. ^ "Foul Anchor definition". Navy Historical Facts and Trivia. Archived from the original on 2006-12-31. Retrieved 2007-02-18. 
  13. ^ a b c "United States Navy Uniform Regulations CPO Rating". BUPERS, U. S. Navy. Retrieved 2007-01-26. 
  14. ^ "Navy Enlisted Advancement System - Master Chief". Navy Professional Development Center, Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  15. ^ a b "Senior And Master Chiefs As Principal Enlisted Advisor". Military Requirements for Senior and Master Chief Petty Officer Chief. Integrated Publishing. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  16. ^ "Chief of Naval Operations OPNAV Instructions 1306.2D". Navydata, U. S. Navy. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  17. ^ a b "Senior and Master Chiefs as Principal Enlisted Advisor". Military Requirements for Senior and Master Chief Petty Officer. Integrated Publishing. pp. 2–1. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  18. ^ a b c "Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy". U. S. Navy Factfile. U. S. Navy. Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
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