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U.S. Navy Enlisted Military Ranks

The United States Navy is not only the most powerful Navy in the world, but it is also one of the most powerful military forces that exist. When conflict arises, one of the first questions asked by the President of the United States is, “Where are my aircraft carriers?” The quick-strike ability and the formidable makeup of a Carrier Strike Group (CSG) makes them the most intimidating and powerful forces in modern warfare.

The enlisted force of the United States Navy has been the backbone of this branch since the creation of it on 13 OCT 1775. The mission of the Navy is, “to maintain, train and equip combat-ready Naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.” This mission would not be possible without the highly-trained and dedicated men and women of the United States Navy.

Many sailors enlist in the Navy prior to attending college. One of the great benefits that sailors have at their disposal is the education benefits. A college degree is a great way to broaden a skill-set and become more promotable. For example, a degree is highly recommended for those with a desire to become a Warrant Officer, and it is required to become a commissioned Officer. To find schools that support your drive to earn a degree, click on the "Find A School" button below:

Navy Seaman Recruit (SR)
Seaman Recruit (SR)

Seaman Recruit (SR), which was formerly known as Seaman Third Class, is the lowest rank in the Navy. An SR does not wear any insignia. The insignia to the left was the SR rank designation prior to 1996.

Navy Seaman Apprentice (SA)
Seaman Apprentice (SA)
A sailor is promoted to Seaman Apprentice (SA) from SR after nine months of service and is tasked with becoming proficient at his/her position. The title and insignia depends upon the job. For example, those in engineering and hull personnel, or Fireman Apprentice, wear red stripes.
Navy Seaman (SN)
Seaman (SN)
A sailor that has completed all of the requirements of his/her specialty is assigned a rating. The rating is acknowledged by the Bureau of Naval Personnel in a process known as “striking,” and the recipient is known as a Designated Striker. This process is typical at the rank of Seaman (SN).
Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class (PO3)
Petty Officer 3rd Class (PO3)
Petty Officer 3rd Class (PO3) is the first NCO rank in the United States Navy. This rank is not given automatically, but is achieved through performance evaluations and rate examinations. However, certain technical ratings do carry automatic promotion to PO3. A PO3 is a technical expert and a leader.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2)
Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2)
A Petty Officer 2nd Class (PO2) is promoted through a combination of time in service, performance evaluations, and rate examinations. Like a PO3, a PO2 is a technical expert and performs leadership duties.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1)
Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1)
Petty Officer 1st Class (PO1) always has the designation “First Class” added to his rating, such as Fire Control Technician First Class, and these sailors are technical experts and leaders. A PO1 must secure a promotion to Chief Petty Officer prior to the 20 year enlistment mark, or the PO1 will be involuntarily separated from the Navy.
Navy Chief Petty Officer (CPO)
Chief Petty Officer (CPO)
Promotion to Chief Petty Officer (CPO) includes the requirements of time in service, exceptional evaluation scores, specialty examinations, and the additional caveat of peer review. Promotion to Chief brings more leadership and administrative duties and the level of respect comes with it. A Chief’s uniform is the same as an officer’s, with the exception of the insignia.
Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer (SCPO)
Senior Chief Petty Officer (SCPO)
The rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer (SCPO) is very similar to that of a Chief Petty officer. The promotion process is basically the same, and the responsibilities, which include both leadership and administrative duties.
Navy Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO)
Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO)
Only 1% of the Navy’s enlisted force consists of individuals wearing the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer (MCPO). An MCPO is better known as “Master Chief.” A MCPO may choose to become a Command Master Chief Petty Officer (CMC), which makes him/her the senior enlisted person in a command and is the liaison between the Commanding Officer and the enlisted personnel. On a sub, the CMC is called the Chief of the Boat, or “COB.”
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy
The Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) is the highest enlisted post in the Navy. Only one individual at a time may hold this post. He/She is selected by the Chief of Naval Operations to oversee and address the issues of the Navy’s enlisted force.
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