United States Navy officer rank insignia

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In the United States Navy, officers have various ranks. Equivalency between services is by pay grade.

Commissioned officer ranks[edit]

Commissioned officer rank structure of the United States Navy[1]
Pay gradeO-1O-2O-3O-4O-5O-6O-7O-8O-9O-10SpecialSpecial
InsigniaUS Navy O1 insignia.svgUS Navy O2 insignia.svgUS Navy O3 insignia.svgUS Navy O4 insignia.svgUS Navy O5 insignia.svgUS Navy O6 insignia.svgUS Navy O7 insignia.svgUS Navy O8 insignia.svgUS Navy O9 insignia.svgUS Navy O10 insignia.svgUS Navy O11 insignia.svgUS Admiral of Navy insignia.svg
(junior grade)
LieutenantLieutenant CommanderCommanderCaptainRear Admiral (lower half)Rear Admiral [2][3]Vice AdmiralAdmiralFleet Admiral1Admiral of the Navy2
NATO CodeOF-1OF-1OF-2OF-3OF-4OF-5OF-6OF-7OF-8OF-9OF-10Special Grade
1 Rank Inactive (awarded to four officers during World War II, but not established as a permanent rank).
2 Rank Inactive (awarded to Admiral George Dewey in 1903, but not established as a permanent rank).

Commissioned warrant officer ranks[edit]

Commissioned warrant officer rank structure of the United States Navy
Pay gradeW-2W-3W-4W-5
InsigniaUS Navy CW2 insignia.svgUS Navy CW3 insignia.svgUS Navy CW4 insignia.svgUS Navy CW5 insignia.svg
TitleChief Warrant Officer TwoChief Warrant Officer ThreeChief Warrant Officer FourChief Warrant Officer Five

Rank categories[edit]

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

Rank and promotion system[edit]

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, 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:

See also commodore (United States)—today a title for selected URL captains (O-6) in major command of multiple subordinate operational units, and formerly a rank (O-7).

The Act of Congress of March 4, 1925, allowed officers in the Navy, marine corps, and coast guard to be promoted one grade upon retirement if they had been specially commended for performance of duty in actual combat. Combat citation promotions were colloquially known as "tombstone promotions" because they conferred all the perks and prestige of the higher rank including the loftier title on their tombstones but no additional retirement pay. The Act of Congress of February 23, 1942, enabled tombstone promotions to three- and four-star grades. Tombstone promotions were subsequently restricted to citations issued before January 1, 1947, and finally eliminated altogether effective November 1, 1959. The practice was terminated in an effort to encourage senior officer retirements prior to the effective date of the change to relieve an overstrength in the senior ranks.

Any officer who actually served in a grade while on active duty receives precedence on the retirement list over any tombstone officer holding the same retired grade. Tombstone officers rank among each other according to the dates of their highest active duty grade.[7]

Officer specialty devices[edit]

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.[8][9]

TypeLine officerMedical CorpsDental CorpsNurse CorpsMedical Service CorpsJudge Advocate General's Corps
InsigniaUSN Line Officer.pngUSN Med-corp.gifUSN Dental.gifUSN Nurse.gifUSN Msc.gifUSN Jag-corp.gif
Chaplain Corps
(Christian Faith)
Chaplain Corps
(Jewish Faith)
Chaplain Corps
(Muslim Faith)
Chaplain Corps
(Buddhist Faith)
Supply CorpsCivil Engineer CorpsLaw Community
(Limited Duty Officer)
USN Chapchr.gifUSN Chap-jew.gifUSN Chap-mus.gifUSN - Chaplian Insignia - Buddhist 2.jpgUnited States Navy Supply Corps insignia.gifUSN Ce-corp.gifUSN Law Community.png

USN Chief Warrant Officer Specialty Devices.png

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.

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rank Insignia of Navy commissioned and warrant officers
  2. ^ a b [1] 10 USC 5501. Navy: grades above chief warrant officer, W–5
  3. ^ a b [2] 37 USC 201. Pay grades: assignment to; general rules
  4. ^ http://www.defenselink.mil/prhome/poprep2000/html/chapter4/chapter4_2.htm
  5. ^ http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/insignias/officers.html
  6. ^ "Specialty Insignia - Staff Corps".
  7. ^ United States Navy Regulations, 1920 with changes up to and including No. 19 1938 Article 1668(3)
  8. ^ U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations, 4102 - Sleeve Designs for Line and Staff Corps, updated 28 January 11, accessed 22 January 12
  9. ^ U.S. Navy Personnel Command, Officer, Community Managers, LDO/CWO OCM, References, LDO/CWO Designators, rout page updated 4 October 11, accessed 22 January 12

External links[edit]