United States Navy officer rank insignia

In the United States Navy, officers have various ranks. Equivalency between services is by pay grade. United States Navy commissioned officer ranks have two distinct sets of rank insignia: On dress uniform a series of stripes similar to Commonwealth naval ranks are worn; on service khaki, working uniforms (Navy Working Uniform [NWU], and coveralls), and special uniform situations (combat utilities, flight suits, and USMC uniforms when worn by Navy officers assigned or attached to USMC units), the rank insignia are similar to the equivalent rank in the US Army or US Air Force.

Commissioned officer ranks

Commissioned officer rank structure of the United States Navy[1]
US DoD Pay Grade O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6 O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10 Special Special
NATO Code OF-1 OF-1 OF-2 OF-3 OF-4 OF-5 OF-6 OF-7 OF-8 OF-9 OF-10 Special Grade
Insignia US Navy O1 insignia US Navy O2 insignia US Navy O3 insignia U.S. Navy O-4 insignia US Navy O5 insignia US Navy O6 insignia US Navy O7 insignia US Navy O8 insignia US Navy O9 insignia US Navy O10 insignia US Navy O11 insignia US Admiral of Navy insignia
Title Ensign Lieutenant
(junior grade)
Lieutenant Lieutenant Commander Commander Captain Rear Admiral (lower half) Rear Admiral[2][3] Vice Admiral Admiral Fleet Admiral[a] Admiral of the Navy[b]

Warrant officer ranks

Warrant officer and commissioned warrant officers
US DoD Pay Grade W-1 W-2 W-3 W-4 W-5
NATO Code WO-1 WO-2 WO-3 WO-4 WO-5
Insignia US Navy WO1 insignia.svg US Navy CW2 insignia.svg US Navy CW3 insignia.svg US Navy CW4 insignia.svg US Navy CW5 insignia.svg
Title Warrant Officer One Chief Warrant Officer Two Chief Warrant Officer Three Chief Warrant Officer Four Chief Warrant Officer Five
Abbreviation WO-1 CWO-2 CWO-3 CWO-4 CWO-5

Rank categories

In the U.S. Navy, pay grades for officers are:

Rank and promotion system

In the event that officers demonstrate superior performance and prove themselves capable of performing at the next higher pay grade, they are given an increase in pay grade. The official term for this process is a promotion.

Commissioned naval officers originate from the United States Naval Academy, the United States Merchant Marine Academy, other Service Academies (United States Military Academy or United States Air Force Academy), Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), Officer Candidate School (OCS), the since-disestablished Aviation Officer Candidate School (AOCS), and a host of other commissioning programs such as the "Seaman to Admiral-21" program and the limited duty officer/chief warrant officer (LDO/CWO) selection program. There are also a small number of direct commissioned officers, primarily staff corps officers in the medical, dental, nurse, chaplain and judge advocate general career fields.

Commissioned officers can generally be divided into line officers and staff corps:

  • Line officers (or officers of the line) derive their name from the 18th-century tactic of employing warships in a line of battle to take advantage of cannon on each side of the ship. These vessels were dubbed ships of the line and those who commanded them were likewise called "line officers." Today, all United States Navy unrestricted line and restricted line officers denote their status with a star located above their rank insignia on the sleeves of their dress blue uniforms and shoulder boards of their white uniforms; metal rank insignia devices on both collar-points of khaki shirts/blouses; and cloth equivalents on both collar-points of blue NWUs. Officers of the staff corps replace the star (or the left collar-point on applicable shirts/blouses) with different insignias to indicate their field of specialty.[9] Line officers can be categorized into unrestricted and restricted communities.
    • Unrestricted line officers (URL) the most visible and well-known of line officers, due to their role as the Navy's war-fighting command element. They receive training in weapons systems, tactics, strategy, command and control, and are considered unrestricted because they are authorized to command combatant ships, combat aviation squadrons/air groups/air wings, and special operations units at sea, or combat aviation squadrons/air groups/air wings or special operations units deployed ashore.
    • Restricted line officers (RL) concentrate on non-combat related fields, which include marine engineering, aeronautical engineering, ship maintenance, aircraft maintenance, meteorology and oceanography, naval intelligence, information technology, manpower/human resources, public affairs, and a host of other career fields. They are not qualified to command combat units, but can command organizations in their respective specialized career fields. In certain shipboard environments, many unrestricted line officers fill what might be considered restricted line duties, such as the officers in a ship's or submarine's engineering department. Because they maintain their general surface warfare or submarine warfare specialist duties instead of completely specializing in one career area, they maintain their unrestricted line command career path.
  • Staff corps officers are specialists in fields that are themselves professional careers and not exclusive to the military, for example health care, law, civil engineering and religion. There are eight staff corps: Medical Corps, Dental Corps, Nurse Corps, Medical Service Corps, Chaplain Corps, Navy Supply Corps, Judge Advocate General's Corps, and Civil Engineer Corps. They primarily exist to augment the line communities and are able to be assigned to both line and staff commands. One exception to this is the case of Civil Engineer Corps officers, who serve as the both Public Works Officers and Resident Officers in Charge of Construction (ROICC) at naval shore installations, and as officers for Construction Battalion (Seabee) units. This latter role requires them to serve in a command capacity for ground combatants when the Seabees are deployed to combat areas.

Note 2: See also Commodore (United States) — today an honorific title (but not a pay grade) for selected URL captains (O-6) in major command of multiple subordinate operational units, and formerly a rank (O-7).[10]

Note 3: The term "line officer of the naval service" includes line officers of both the Navy and the Marine Corps. All U.S. Marine Corps officers are considered "of the line," including Marine Corps limited duty officers, chief warrant officers, and warrant officers, regardless of grade or specialty.[11]

"Tombstone promotions"

The Act of Congress of March 4, 1925, provided for Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers to be promoted one grade upon retirement, if they had been specially commended for performance of duty in actual combat, known as "tombstone promotions". Officers who received such tombstone promotions, or also known as "tombstone officer", carried the loftier title but did not draw the additional retirement pay of their higher rank. The Act of Congress of February 23, 1942, enabled promotions to three- and four-star grades. Promotions were subsequently restricted to citations issued before January 1, 1947, and finally eliminated altogether effective November 1, 1959.[12]

Any officer who served honorably in a grade while on active duty receives precedence on the retirement list over any "tombstone officers" of the same grade, while "tombstone officers" of the same grade rank among each other according to their dates of rank in their highest active duty grade.[13]

Officer specialty devices

Navy officers serve either as a line officer or as a staff corps officer. Unrestricted Line (URL) and Restricted Line (RL) officers wear an embroidered gold star above their rank of the naval service dress uniform while staff corps officers, and chief warrant officers wear unique specialty devices.[14][15]

Type Line officer Medical Corps Dental Corps Nurse Corps Medical Service Corps Judge Advocate General's Corps
Insignia USN Line Officer USN Med-corp USN Dental USN Nurse USN Msc USN Jag-corp
Designator1 1XXX 210X 220X 290X 230X 250X
Chaplain Corps
(Christian Faith)
Chaplain Corps
(Jewish Faith)
Chaplain Corps
(Muslim Faith)
Chaplain Corps
(Buddhist Faith)
Supply Corps Civil Engineer Corps Law Community
(Limited Duty Officer)
USN Chapchr USN Chap-jew USN Chap-mus USN - Chaplian Insignia - Buddhist 2 United States Navy Supply Corps insignia USN Ce-corp USN Law Community
410X 410X 410X 410X 310X 510X 655X

USN Chief Warrant Officer Specialty Devices

1 An officer designator describes their general community or profession. The final (fourth) digit (X) denotes whether the officer has a regular (0), reserve (5), or full-time support (7) commission.[16]

The chief warrant officer and staff corps devices are also worn on the left collar of uniforms.

See also


  1. ^ Rank inactive (awarded to four officers[Note 1] during World War II, but not established as a permanent rank).
  2. ^ Rank inactive (awarded to Admiral George Dewey in 1903 [d. 1917], but not established as a permanent rank). The six star insignia is conjectural, as no Fleet Admirals were appointed while Admiral Dewey was alive.


  1. ^ Fleet Admirals in order of precedence


  1. ^ Rank Insignia of Navy commissioned and warrant officers
  2. ^ a b 10 USC 5501 Navy: grades above chief warrant officer, W–5
  3. ^ a b 37 USC 201 Pay grades: assignment to; general rules
  4. ^ a b 10 U.S. Code § 571. Warrant officers: grades, the President may grant appointments of warrant officers in the grade of W-1 via commission at any time and the Secretary of the Navy may also appointment warrant officers in that grade via commission, through additional regulations.
  5. ^ 10 U.S. Code § 531. Original appointments of commissioned officers
  6. ^ Defenselink.mil
  7. ^ Defenselink.mil
  8. ^ "Public Law 333, 79TH CONG., CHS. 109, 110, 112, MAR. 22, 23, 1946" (PDF). LegisWorks.org. Retrieved 15 September 2016. "This law in 1946 provided that each of the 8 Five-Star officers at the end of WWII was permanently appointed as O-11, and whether retired or not would continue to draw full pay and allowances for the rest of their life, as if on active duty. The same benefit was provided for the serving Commandants of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard (both O-10, 4-star General and Admiral, respectively), who were in office on 14 August 1945. No provisions were made for these officers' successors to have the same benefits; only one more O-11 was appointed, General Omar Bradley was appointed in 1950 as General of the Army, and his benefits followed the model of PL 333. The grade of O-11 itself was temporary in that while Congress provided for appointments to serve in it, once the last appointed officer (Bradley d. 1982) died, there have been no further appointments to O-11.
  9. ^ "Specialty Insignia - Staff Corps".
  10. ^ 14 USC 271: Promotions; appointments (1985—Pub. L. 99–145 substituted "rear admirals (lower half)" for "commodores," repealing 1983—Section 4 of Pub. L. 97–417, Permanent Grades and Titles for Officers Holding Certain Grades on January 3, 1983. After 1985, the O-7 Commodore rank was replaced by O-7 "Rear Admiral (Lower Half)")
  11. ^ "United States Navy Regulations" (PDF). Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  12. ^ "14 United States Code 239 Repealed)". U.S. Govt. Printing Office. Retrieved 15 September 2016. Section 10(b) of Pub. L. 86–155 provided that repeal of this section and section 309 of this title shall become effective on Nov. 1, 1959.
  13. ^ United States Navy Regulations, 1920 with changes up to and including No. 19 1938 Article 1668(3)
  14. ^ U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations, 4102 - Sleeve Designs for Line and Staff Corps, updated 28 January 11, accessed 22 January 12
  15. ^ U.S. Navy Personnel Command, Officer, Community Managers, LDO/CWO OCM, References, LDO/CWO Designators Archived 2013-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, rout page updated 4 October 11, accessed 22 January 12
  16. ^ "Navy Full-Time Support (FTS) Program". Navy.com. Retrieved 16 September 2016. Navy Full-Time Support (FTS) – This program allows Reservists to perform full-time Active Duty service in positions that support the training and administration of the Navy Reserve Force. Members receive the same pay, allowances and benefits as Active Duty members. One advantage of FTS over regular Active Duty is that members typically serve for longer periods at any assigned locations, up to and including a full career on active duty (albeit as a reservist serving on active duty for the specific purpose of providing support and expertise to integrate the active and reserve components.

External links

Commander (United States)

In the United States, commander is a military rank that is also sometimes used as a military billet title—the designation of someone who manages living quarters or a base—depending on the branch of service. It is also (sometimes) used as a rank or title in non-military organizations; particularly in law enforcement.

Fleet admiral (United States)

Fleet admiral (abbreviated FADM) is a five-star flag officer rank in the United States Navy. Fleet admiral ranks immediately above admiral and is equivalent to General of the Army and General of the Air Force. Although it is a current and authorized rank, no U.S. Navy officer presently holds it, with the last U.S. Navy fleet admiral being Chester W. Nimitz, who died in 1966.

List of United States Navy enlisted rates

In the United States Navy, a rate is the military rank of an enlisted sailor, indicating where an enlisted sailor stands within the chain of command, and also defining one's pay grade. However, in the U.S. Navy, only officers carry the term rank, while it is proper to refer to an enlisted sailor's pay grade as rate. A similar term is rating, which 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. All E-1 through E-3 are known as Seamen. E-4 through E-6 are called petty officers. All E-7s are called chief petty officer, E-8s senior chief petty officer, and E-9s master chief petty officer. 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.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 on-the-job training (OJT) in the Fleet. Some sailors 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 hospital 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.

List of United States Navy enlisted warfare designations

The United States Navy enlisted warfare designations represent the achievement of a qualification and entitles the member to wear the associated insignia. When awarded in accordance with appropriate guidelines, enlisted sailors are authorized to place the designator in parentheses immediately after the member’s rate abbreviation, for example, MM1(SW) Smith, HM2(CAC) Jones. In cases of multiple designators, the designators are separated by a slash enclosed in parentheses, for example, MM1(SW/AW) Smith, HM2(FMF/CAC) Jones. Although commissioned officers have warfare pins and designations, such as Surface Warfare Officer, they do not use warfare designators in their titles.

List of United States Navy ratings

United States Navy ratings are general enlisted occupations used by the U.S. Navy from the 18th century, which consisted of specific skills and abilities. Each naval rating had its own specialty badge, which is worn on the left sleeve of the uniform by each enlisted person in that particular field. Working uniforms, such as coveralls and the camouflage Naval Working Uniform, bear generic rate designators with no rating insignia attached. For a brief period from September 2016 to December 2016, ratings were not used. However, they were reintroduced in December 2016 and remain in use. U.S. naval ratings are the equivalent of military occupational specialty codes (MOS Codes) used by the United States Army and the United States Marine Corps, the ratings system used by the United States Coast Guard, and Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC) used by the United States Air Force.

Just as a naval officer has rank, not a rate, an officer's occupation (if drawn more narrowly than an officer of the line) is classified according to designators for both officers of the line (e.g., line officers) and those of the professional staff corps.Ratings should not be confused with rates, which describe the Navy's enlisted pay-grades and ratings. Enlisted sailors are referred to by their rating and pay-grade. For example, if a sailor's has the pay-grade of E-5 (petty officer second class) and the rating of boatswain's mate, then combining the two—boatswain's mate second class (BM2)—defines both pay-grade and rating in formal address or epistolary salutation. Thus, boatswain's mate second class (BM2) would be that sailor's rate. A member that is E-1, E-2, or E-3 that belongs to a general occupational field (airman, constructionman, fireman, hospitalman, or seaman) is considered nonrated. A striker is a nonrated person who is working for promotion towards a specific rating. Example: BMSN, MMFA, AOAR.

List of United States naval officer designators

This is a list of naval officer designators in the United States Navy. In the United States Navy, all active and reserve component officers are assigned to one of four officer communities, based on their education, training, and assignments: Line Officers (divided into Unrestricted Line or URL, Restricted Line or RL, and Restricted Line Special Duty or RL SD), Staff Corps Officers, Limited Duty Officers (LDO), or Warrant Officers (WO/CWO). Each community is further subdivided by primary occupation. Each occupation is identified by a designator.

Major general (United States)

In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general. A major general typically commands division-sized units of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers. Major general is equivalent to the two-star rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, and is the highest permanent peacetime rank in the uniformed services. Higher ranks are technically temporary and linked to specific positions, although virtually all officers promoted to those ranks are approved to retire at their highest earned rank.

Star Trek uniforms

Star Trek uniforms are costumes worn by actors portraying personnel from the fictitious organization Starfleet in the Star Trek science fiction franchise. Costume design often changed between various television series and films, especially those representing different time periods, both for appearance and comfort. Deliberately mixing styles of uniforms from the various series was occasionally used to enhance the sense of time travel or alternative universes.

Uniforms of the United States Navy

The uniforms of the United States Navy include dress uniforms, daily service uniforms, working uniforms, and uniforms for special situations, which have varied throughout the history of the navy. For simplicity in this article, officers refers to both commissioned officers and warrant officers.

United States Navy staff corps

In the United States Navy, commissioned officers are either line officers or staff corps officers. Staff corps officers are specialists in career fields that are professions unto themselves, such as physicians, lawyers, civil engineers, chaplains, and supply specialists. For example, a physician can advance to become the commanding officer (CO) of a hospital, the medical (hospital) on a hospital ship or large ship, or a medical school or the chief of the Medical Corps or of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, while a supply officer can become the CO of a supply depot or a school or the head of the Naval Supply Systems Command.

The eight staff corps fall under different organizations throughout the navy. The four medicine-related corps (Medical Corps, Dental Corps, Nurse Corps, and Medical Service Corps) all fall under the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED). The Civil Engineer Corps and Supply Corps fall under two of the Navy's systems commands, respectively Naval Facilities Engineering Command and Naval Supply Systems Command. The Judge Advocate General's Corps and Chaplain Corps are directly under the Navy Secretariat.Staff Corps officers wear their specialty insignia on the sleeve of the dress blue uniforms and on their shoulder boards, in place of the star worn by line officers. On Winter Blue and Khaki uniforms, the specialty insignia is a collar device worn on the left collar, while the rank device is worn on the right.

United States Uniformed Services rank and rate insignia
History and
Operations and history
United States uniformed services commissioned officer and officer candidate ranks
Pay grade / branch of service Officer
O-1 O-2 O-3 O-4 O-5 O-6 O-7 O-8 O-9 O-10 O-11 Special
alt=alt=Officer Candidate[1] alt=alt=Second lieutenant / Ensign alt=alt=First lieutenant / Lieutenant (junior grade) alt=alt=alt=Captain / Lieutenant[6] alt=alt=Major / Lieutenant commander alt=alt=Lieutenant colonel / Commander alt=alt=Colonel / Captain alt=alt=Brigadier general / Rear admiral (lower half) alt=alt=Major General / Rear admiral[6] alt=alt=Lieutenant general / Vice admiral[6] US-O10 insignia[6] alt=alt=General of the Air Force / General of the Army / Fleet Admiral alt=alt=General of the Armies / Admiral of the Navy[2]
Midn / Cand 2ndLt 1stLt Capt Maj LtCol Col BGen MajGen LtGen Gen [5] [5]
Cadet / OT / OC 2nd Lt 1st Lt Capt Maj Lt Col Col Brig Gen Maj Gen Lt Gen Gen GAF[3] [5]
W-1 W-2 W-3 W-4 W-5
USMC WO1.svg
US Navy WO1 insignia.svg
US Navy CW2 insignia.svg
US Navy CW3 insignia.svg
US Navy CW4 insignia.svg
US Navy CW5 insignia.svg
USAF CW5.png
USCG WO1 insignia.svg
USCG CW2 insignia.svg
USCG CW3 insignia.svg
USCG CW4 insignia.svg
[2] [2] [2] [2]
Military ranks and insignia by country
Post-Soviet states
Commonwealth of Nations


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