Seaman (rank)

Seaman is a military rank used in many navies around the world. It is considered a junior enlisted rank and, depending on the navy, it may be a single rank on its own or a name shared by several similarly-junior ranks.

In the Commonwealth, it is the lowest rank in the navy, while in the United States, it refers to the three lowest ranks of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. The equivalent of the seaman is the matelot[1] in French-speaking countries, and Matrose in German-speaking countries.

Jean-Bart seaman Bastille Day 2008
Seaman (matelot) of the French frigate Jean Bart


The Royal Australian Navy features one Seaman rank.


There are 4 grades of seaman/matelot in the Royal Canadian Navy:


Ordinary seaman or matelot de troisième classe


Able seaman or matelot de deuxième classe


Leading seaman or matelot de première classe


Master seaman or matelot-chef

The rank of master seaman is unique because it was created only for the Canadian Navy. It does not follow the British tradition of other Canadian ranks. It corresponds to the rank of master corporal/caporal-chef.


Matelot 2e classe (seaman 2nd class), or apprentice seaman, and matelot breveté (able seaman) are designations of the French Navy. Matelots are colloquially known as "mousses".

French Navy-Rama NG-M0


French Navy-Rama NG-M1

Matelot breveté (able seaman)



Madrus is the lowest rank in the Estonian Navy. It is equivalent to OR-1 in NATO


MDS 11 Matrose 10 L
Shoulder board of a German seaman (matrose)

The German rank of "seaman" (German: Matrose) is the lowest enlisted rank of the German Navy.[2] It is equivalent to OR1 in NATO and is a grade A3 in the pay rules of the Federal Ministry of Defence.


Badge of a Greek ordinary seaman (ναύτης)

There is one grade of seaman in the Hellenic Navy.


Kelasi kepala pdh al
Seaman rank of the Indonesian Navy

In the Indonesian Navy this rank is referred to as "kelasi". There are three levels of this rank in the Indonesian Navy which are: "seaman recruit" (kelasi dua), "seaman apprentice" (kelasi satu), and "seaman" (kelasi kepala), the rating system thus mirrors the one used in the US Navy.


The Italian rank of "seaman" (Italian: comune di seconda classe) is the lowest enlisted rank of the Italian Navy equivalent in NATO to OR1.

Tecnico macchine

Badge of technics and mechanics

Badge of coxswains category of the Italian Navy

Badge of coxswains

Badge of tracking radar operators category of the Italian Navy

Badge of tracking radar operators

Badge of electro-mechanics category of the Italian Navy

Badge of electro-mechanics


See Military ranks and insignia of the Japan Self-Defense Forces


RAF N R1-Matros 2010–
Shoulder board of a Russian seaman (matros)

Much Russian military vocabulary was imported, along with military advisers, from Germany in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Russian word for "seaman" or "sailor" (Russian: матрос; matros) was borrowed from the German "matrose". In Imperial Russia the most junior naval rank was "seaman 2nd class" (матрос 2-й статьи; matros vtoroi stati). The 1917 Revolution led to the term "Red Fleet man" (краснофлотец; krasnoflotets) until 1943, when the Soviet Navy reintroduced the term "seaman" (матрос; matros), along with badges of rank. The Russian federation inherited the term in 1991, as did several other former Soviet republics, including Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Belarus, with Bulgaria using the same word and the same Cyrillic orthography. Estonia (Estonian: mаtrus) and Latvia (Latvian: mаtrozis) use closely related loanwords.

United Kingdom

In the Royal Navy the rate is split into two divisions: AB1 and AB2. The AB2 rating is used for those who have not yet completed their professional taskbooks. The rate of ordinary seaman has been discontinued.

United States

E-3 insignia


E-3 insignia

E-3 insignia (fireman)


E-3 insignia (fireman)

E-3 insignia (airman)


E-3 insignia (airman)

E-3 insignia


E-3 insignia
U.S. Navy Seaman Recruit Donald Vines changes a light bulb in the fitness center aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) 130204-N-JC752-089
A US Navy seaman at work aboard USS Nimitz

Seaman is the third enlisted rank from the bottom in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, ranking above seaman apprentice and below petty officer third class. This naval rank was formerly called "seaman first class". The rank is also used in United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, a naval-themed uniformed youth program under the sponsorship of the Navy League of the United States.

The actual title for an E-3 in the U.S. Navy varies based on the subset of the Navy or Coast Guard, also known as a group rate, to which the member will ultimately be assigned. Likewise, the color of their group rate mark also depends on that subset of the Navy or Coast Guard in which they are serving and which technical rating they will eventually pursue.

  • Those in the general deck, technical, weapons and administrative groups (with the exception of the aviation administration men) are called "seamen" and they represent the largest group of Navy and Coast Guard personnel in pay grades E-3 and below. They wear white stripes on their blue uniforms (USN and USCG), and navy blue (black) stripes on their white uniforms (USN only).
  • Those in the medical group are now called "hospitalmen." In October 2005, the USN dental technician (DT) rating was merged into the hospital corpsman (HM) rating, eliminating the "dentalman" title for E-3 and below. Those who once held the rank of "dentalman" have become "hospitalmen". They wear white stripes on their blue uniforms, and navy blue stripes on their white uniforms. After the completion of their "A" school, they wear a caduceus of the same color as the stripes on their uniforms. On their combat uniforms, a hospitalman wears their caduceus on the tab of their left collar tab. This rating was previously called pharmacist's mate (PHM) and HMs are colloquially referred to as "corpsman" in the naval service. Hospitalmen exist only in the U.S. Navy; their equivalent in the U.S. Coast Guard is the health services technician (HS), which is sourced from seamen in that service's administrative and scientific group.
  • Those in the shipboard engineering and hull group, comprising conventional (USN + USCG) and nuclear (USN only) powerplants and propulsion, as well as the hull maintenance area, are called "firemen." They wear red stripes on both their USN and USCG blue uniforms and, in the case of the Navy, white uniforms.
  • Those in the aviation group of the Navy and Coast Guard are called "airmen", and they wear green stripes on blue uniforms (USN + USCG) and white uniforms (USN only).
  • Enlisted personnel in the construction group, which primarily populates the U.S. Navy's civil engineering construction battalions (i.e., Seabees), are called "constructionmen" and they wear light blue stripes on both their blue and white uniforms. Constructionmen are unique to the U.S. Navy; there is no U.S. Coast Guard equivalent.

No such stripes for E-1, E-2 or E-3 are authorized to be worn on working uniforms, e.g., navy work uniform, USCG operational dress uniform, coveralls, utility wear, flight suits, hospital and clinic garb, diving suits, etc. However, sailors with the pay grade of E-2 or E-3 are permitted to wear silver-anodized collar devices on their service uniforms.

Some sailors and Coast Guardsmen receive a rating following completion of a military technical training course for that particular rating known as an "A" school. Other sailors and Coast Guardsmen who have completed the requirements to be assigned a rating and have been accepted by the Navy Personnel Command/Bureau of Naval Personnel (USN) or the Coast Guard Personnel Service Center Command (USCG) as holding that rating (a process called "striking") are called "designated strikers", and are referred to by their full rate and rating in formal communications (i.e., machinist's mate fireman (MMFN), as opposed to simply fireman (FN)), though the rating is often left off in informal communications. Those who have not officially been assigned to a rating are officially referred to as "undesignated" or "non-rates." Once selected for a particular rating of their choice they become eligible for advancement in that community.

See also


  1. ^ "U.S. Navy Enlisted Military Ranks | USN". Retrieved 2013-10-02.
  2. ^ Brockhaus. "Matrose". The Encyclopaedia in 24 volumes (1796–2001). 14: 3-7653-3674-2. p. 337.

External links

  • Media related to Seamen at Wikimedia Commons
Able seaman (rank)

Able seaman is a military rank used in naval forces.

George Prowse

Chief Petty Officer George Henry Prowse VC, DCM (29 August 1886 – 27 September 1918) was a British recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He served with the Royal Naval Division during the Gallipoli Campaign and in France on the Western Front where he was killed in action before the award of either of his decorations was announced.

Joseph Fitz

Joseph Fitz (May 24, 1886 in Austria – February 24, 1945) was a United States Navy Ordinary Seaman who received the Medal of Honor for actions on March 8, 1906 during the Philippine-American War. He served in the navy from 1900 to 1910, and later obtained the rank of seaman.

Leading rating

Leading rating (or leading rate) is the most senior of the junior rates in the Royal Navy. It is equal in status to corporal, as the Royal Navy is the "Senior Service" and oldest service. Leading Rates are permitted entry to and FULL use of corporal's messes, when visiting the other service's bases. The rate was introduced under the authority of Admiralty Circular No. 121 of 14 June 1853.

Leading ratings are normally addressed as "Leading Hand" or using their branch title e.g. Leading Seaman, Leading Regulator etc.The insignia worn by leading rates is a single fouled anchor on the left arm, when in dress uniform, No.2's or "Tropics". The left arm also, of the sailor's white front (before the introduction of short sleeved shirts for all rating) or overalls. Until recently, 2017, a "hook" was worn on each shoulder epaulette, when in working rig, woolly pully or burberry. This was before the introduction of the new uniforms with the single insignia in the chest centre. This led to the slang term killick or hooky used in reference to this rate.

Ordinary seaman (rank)

Ordinary seaman is a military rank used in naval forces.

Robert Volz

Robert Volz (born January 31, 1875) was a seaman serving in the United States Navy during the Spanish–American War who received the Medal of Honor for bravery.


Seaman may refer to:

Sailor, a member of a watercraft's crew

Seaman (rank), a military rank in some navies

Seaman (name) (including a list of people with the name)

Seaman (video game), a 1999 simulation video game for the Sega Dreamcast

Seaman (dog), on the Lewis and Clark Expedition

USS Seaman (DD-791), a destroyer

Seaman, Ohio, a village in the United States

Navies Armies Air forces
Commissioned officers
Admiral of
the fleet
Field marshal or
General of the army
Marshal of
the air force
Admiral General Air chief marshal
Vice admiral Lieutenant general Air marshal
Rear admiral Major general Air vice-marshal
Commodore Brigadier or
brigadier general
Air commodore
Captain Colonel Group captain
Commander Lieutenant colonel Wing commander
Major or
Squadron leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight lieutenant
junior grade
Lieutenant or
first lieutenant
Flying officer
Ensign or
Second lieutenant Pilot officer
Officer cadet Officer cadet Flight cadet
Enlisted grades
Warrant officer or
chief petty officer
Warrant officer or
sergeant major
Warrant officer
Petty officer Sergeant Flight sergeant
Leading seaman Corporal or
Seaman Private or
gunner or
Aircraftman or


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