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U.S. Navy Enlisted Rank Structure

Updated on August 31, 2014
Customized U.S. Navy Pewter Belt Buckle.  This belt buckle is not authorized in uniform.
Customized U.S. Navy Pewter Belt Buckle. This belt buckle is not authorized in uniform.

Given my military history, I've decided to post a series of articles related to the rank structure of the United States Military.  To begin with, I will start with the one i'm most familiar; the United States Navy.  Having served proudly with both Officer and Enlisted ranks in a variety of ways, I have a great feeling for both ends of the service.  I will begin with the Enlisted ranks and insignia, and slowly progress through the Officer branch and other services as well.  Finally, thank you for your interest and support for the military!

U.S. Navy Enlisted Rank Insignia
U.S. Navy Enlisted Rank Insignia

The Breakdown

The above graphic depicts the insignia that are present on US Navy dress blue uniforms.

E-1 through E-3 in the Navy are of the "Seaman" group. From E-1 to E-3, all sailors will be addressed as Seaman or Seaman (Last Name). These are the total worker bee force of the US Navy.

E-4 through E-6 are known as "Petty Officers". There's a large jump in responsibility and recognition from E-3 to E-4. Additionally, from Second Class Petty Officer to First Class Petty Officer, there's a line that is drawn. An E-6 is typically in a completely supervisory role with total accountability for those below him or her. They have the opportunity to delegate authority to an E-5, depending on the size of the unit.

E-7, E-8, and E-9 are different levels of total supervisor, known as Chiefs. What they supervise depends on their rank and experience, and can range from a small 20 man shop, to a Command Master Chief, overseeing all of the E-7+'s in the command. Receiving your "Anchors" (the collar device for a Chief) is seen as a big event in any Sailor's career and highly celebrated.

The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy is an E-9, but is a special duty assignment and is considered the most senior enlisted position in the Navy. The MCPON is appointed by the Chief of Naval Operations to address issues of the Enlisted personnel to the officials who are capable of changing policy.


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