Royal Navy ratings rank insignia
of the British Armed Forces
|History and future|
|No equivalent||No equivalent||No equivalent|
|Warrant officer class 1||Warrant officer class 2
(phased out 2014)
|Chief petty officer||Petty officer||Leading seaman||Able seaman|
|No equivalent||No equivalent||No insignia|
|Warrant officer class 1 WO1.||Warrant officer class 2 WO2.||Colour sergeant CSgt.||Sergeant Sgt.||Corporal Cpl.||Lance Corporal LCpl.||Marine Mne.|
Trade (branch) badges
Ratings in the Royal Navy include trade badges on the right sleeve to indicate a specific job. The information on the left arm is the individual's rate - e.g. a leading rate (commonly called a leading hand). One nickname is "Killick", for the Killick-anchor rate badge. Branch badges include stars and crowns above and below the branch logo, indicating an individual's qualification within their branch. One star indicates they have passed the required exam in order to be eligible to be selected for the Leading Rates course in their respective branch. Two stars indicates they have completed the Leading Rates course and are now eligible to study for the Petty Officers Qualifying Exam (PQE). A crown indicates they have passed the relevant PQE and are eligible to be Petty Officer. The insignia denotes trade and specialty.
Branches and specialities
Trades in the Royal Navy are listed below. Branch sub-specialities are denoted with an abbreviation on the branch badge. Ratings in the Marine Engineering and Medical branches may obtain "Dolphins" (qualify for the Royal Navy Submarine Service). Some personnel have an additional option to pass the All Arms Commando Course and serve attached to the Royal Marines. The branches were reviewed, revised and published in the Royal Navy's June 2013 BR3 (Book of Reference) edition (now the June 2015 edition).
- Qualified submariners (i.e. in the Submarine Service) are denoted by "SM". Ratings and Other Ranks in the Engineering Branch further specialise in either mechanical (M) or electrical engineering (L). For example, a leading marine engineering mechanic specialising in electrical engineering is designated LMEM(L).
- Sub-specialties include Weapon Engineering (WE)
- Sub-specialties are mechanical (M), Electrical (L), Radio (R) and Avionics (Av)
|Catering Services (merges Chef and Steward as of 2019)||CS|
|Medical||Medical Technician Operating Department Practitioner||MT(ODP)|
- MAs who are qualified submariners are designated MASM
|General Service||Warfare Specialist||Abovewater Warfare Weapons (AWW)||WS|
|Abovewater Warfare Tactical (AWT)|
|Underwater Warfare (UW)|
|Electronic Warfare (EW)|
|Communication Information Systems Specialist||CIS|
|Hydrographic & Meteorological Specialist||HM|
|Mine Warfare Specialist||MW|
|Royal Navy Police||Master-at-arms (Chief Petty Officers), Regulator (Other Ratings)||RNP|
|Fleet Air Arm|
|Naval Airman||Aircraft Handler (AH)||NA|
|Aircraft Controller (AC)|
|Survival Equipment (SE)|
|Aircrewman - Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW)||ACMN|
|Submarine Service||Coxswain (Submarine)||Coxn(SM)|
|Communication Information Systems Specialist Submarine||CISSM|
|Warfare Specialist||Tactical Submarine (TSM)||WS|
|Sensors Submarine (SSM)|
- Formerly known as Meteorology & Oceanography (METOC)
- Non-flying Ratings and Other Ranks in the Fleet Air Arm are designated by the general term Naval Airman (NA), followed by their specialty. Also applies to Royal Marines assigned to the Commando Helicopter Force.
- Royal Marines other ranks who qualify are designated Commando Aircrew (RMAC)
Current (since 1975)
|Basic device||on entering a sub-branch Able Rate, AB class 2, under training|
|Basic device with star above||on qualifying professionally for Able Rate, AB class 1, operationally trained to carry out basic tasks and expected to train for next level as Leading Hand.|
|Basic device with star above and star below||on qualifying professionally for Leading Rate, able to carry complex tasks and lead others and expected to train for next level as Petty Officer.|
|Basic device with crown above||on qualifying professionally for Petty Officer, able to command, instruct others and carry out more complex tasks.|
|Basic device with crown above worn on the on both lapels on number 1 dress.||Chief Petty Officers attain no additional professional qualification, able to show advanced leadership, training abilities and perform the most complex tasks.|
The Seaman and Naval Airman branches were:
|Basic device||Junior or Basic|
|Basic device with star above||"Star" or third-class part II or specialist qualification (PO and below)|
|Basic device with star above and star below||Second-class part II or specialist qualification (PO and below)|
|Basic device with crown above||First-class part II or specialist qualification (PO and below)|
|Basic device with crown above||Second-class or lower part II or specialist qualification (CPO)|
|Basic device with crown above star below||First-class part II or specialist qualification (CPO)|
|Basic device with crown above two stars below||Chief petty officers, petty officers and confirmed|
Leading rates qualified as instructors in the following branches:
- Radar plot
- Torpedo anti-Submarine,
- Physical training
- Tactical communication
- Radio communication
The instructor rate began to disappear in 1972, when fleet chief petty officers (warrant officers) were introduced.
Other branches, including Naval Air Mechanics, were:
- Basic device: Junior or Basic Technical qualification
- Basic device with star above: Technical qualification for able rate
- Basic device with star above and star below: Technical qualification for leading rate*
- Basic device with crown above: Petty officer qualified for higher rate of pay
- Basic device with crown above: Chief petty officer qualified for lower rate of pay
- Basic device with crown above star below: Chief petty officer qualified for higher rate of pay
.*not applicable to Coder, Supply and Secretariat, Artisan and Sick Birth Branches
Before 1947, each branch developed its own device badges and the crowns and stars of one branch did not necessarily have the same meaning as another. In 1948 and 1951, reforms were implemented to bring the branches into line with each other. A star above the badge normally indicates a person of superior qualifications, and another star below denotes that the person has passed for (and is performing) specific duties; e.g. gunnery, captain of turret, torpedo, torpedo-boat coxswain or signals. The crown is the emblem of authority, and is common in most petty officer, CPO, instructor and police badges.
Warrant officers and above do not wear branch badges. Until the late 1990s, artificer apprentices and leading artificers wore the same uniform as petty officers (with a red beret or cap badge, similar to a petty officer's). Apprentices were the last junior ratings not to be dressed as seamen; they did not wear "square rig".
Badges for naval ratings were first introduced in 1827:
|Petty officer 1st class||Crown above anchor|
|Petty officer 2nd class||Foul anchor|
Both were white, and worn on the upper-left sleeve.
In 1853, two new ranks were introduced and the badges were altered:
|Chief petty officer||Crown above anchor surrounded by laurel wreath|
|Petty officer 1st class||Crown above 2 crossed anchors|
|Petty officer 2nd class||Crown above anchor|
|Leading seaman||Foul anchor|
These were white, or gold on the dress uniform, or blue on white uniforms. In 1860, the badges changed from white to red on ordinary uniforms.
In 1879 Chief Petty Officers received a fore-and-aft uniform similar to that of the officers, with a cap badge of an anchor within a cord surmounted by a crown. In 1890, they ceased to wear an arm badge. In 1913, the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class was abolished but the other badges remained the same.
In 1920, petty officers with four years' standing also received the fore-and-aft rig with the cap badge formerly worn by CPOs. The CPOs added a wreath to their cap badge, making it similar to the earlier arm badge.
In 1970 a new rank of Fleet chief petty officer was introduced, with insignia of the royal coat of arms on the lower arm (identical to a warrant officer class 1 in the army and RAF, to which the new rank was equivalent). This rank was renamed warrant officer, and then warrant officer class 1.
In 2004 the rank of warrant officer class 2 was formed from those CPOs holding the appointment of charge chief petty officer. The insignia is a crown within a wreath, also worn on the lower arm. The badges are now worn on the shoulders of 3A/B and 4A/B. Chevrons on the left sleeve, below the rank badge, are for long service and good conduct (one for each four-year period; no more than three may be worn). A chief petty officer in the blue uniform wears three buttons on their sleeves to indicate rank, the same rank insignia (but topped with a star) used by Chilean Navy midshipmen. The WO2 rank began to be phased out in April 2014, with no new appointments; existing holders of the rank retain it until they are promoted or leave the service.
Royal Marines other ranks
Since the Royal Marines share the ranks of British Army, the other ranks are similar but in red and gold (in full dress) or green and gold (in the duty uniform) chevrons from lance corporals to colour sergeants and sharing the same warrant-officer insignia as the RN's. The insignia for the other ranks were formerly red, except for senior NCOs.
History of RM other ranks
RM other ranks were formerly the same as the army's, although the RM (then the His Majesty's Marine Forces) moved to the Royal Navy in the mid-18th century. During the 19th century, as the service split in two, the basic ranks were private for the RM proper (RM Light Infantry) and gunner for the artillery branch (Royal Marine Artillery). Although both had lance corporals and corporals, the RMA also had lance bombardiers and bombardiers; the senior NCO ranks remained. Warrant rank was given to all regimental sergeant majors, all other sergeant majors and other senior NCOs in the same manner as their army counterparts in 1881. In 1910, the services introduced RN-style warrant officer ranks. In 1915, the RMLI and RMA joined the army in adopting the warrant officer ranks (WO classes II and I). Five years later, the warrant-officer ranks were merged and received the same status as their Royal Navy counterparts; WOIIs before the 1920 abolition retained the rank. In the 1923 merger of the services into the present Royal Marines, all other ranks were merged and marine became the basic rank. During the 1940s, RM WOs wore dark blue shoulder boards with the WO lettering surrounded by a wreath while commissioned WOs shared the same insignia as RM second lieutenants.
RM sergeant majors and warrant officers in the 1930s were divided into regular and commissioned sergeant majors, regular and commissioned warrant officers and their equivalents (similar to the RN warrant officers), and were saluted as officers. Like the RN WOs, they became branch officers in 1949 and special duties officers in 1956 (formally losing their status). The WOs were reinstated in 1972, replacing the quartermaster sergeant, SM and their equivalents.
Other ranks (former ranks in italics)
- Marine, Private (RMLI), Gunner (RMA)
- Lance corporal, Lance bombardier (RMA)
- Corporal, Bombardier (RMA)
- Colour sergeant, Company quartermaster sergeant
- Quartermaster sergeant
- Sergeant major
- Staff sergeant major
- Gunnery sergeant major
- Company sergeant major
- Regimental sergeant major
- Warrant officer class 2
- Warrant officer class 1
- Warrant officer
- Commissioned warrant officer
- The Dress of the British Sailor HMSO 1957 Badges and Insignia if the British Armed Services published by Adam & Charles Black London 1974 BRD 81 Naval Service Uniform Regulations Chapter 3 (0317) 2009 Naval and Marine Badges and Insignia of World War 2 Guido Rosignoli, Blandford Press
- BR3 - Annex 39E - ILLUSTRATIONS OF RN & QARNNS BADGES OF RANK/RATE & OTHER INSIGNIA
- BR3 - Chapter 74 - ENGINEERING BRANCH – MARINE ENGINEERING
- BR3 - Chapter 76 - ENGINEERING BRANCH – AIR ENGINEERING
- BR3 - Chapter 75 - ENGINEERING BRANCH – WEAPON ENGINEERING
- "Catering Jobs | Royal Navy Careers in the Surface Fleet". www.royalnavy.mod.uk. Retrieved 2019-11-12.
- BR3 - Chapter 89 - MEDICAL BRANCH – QUEEN ALEXANDRA ROYAL NAVAL NURSING SERVICE
- BR3 - Chapter 87 - MEDICAL BRANCH – MEDICAL ASSISTANT AND TECHNICIAN
- "https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/careers/roles-and-specialisations/services/surface-fleet/warfare-specialist-intelligence". External link in
- BR3 - Chapter 84 - WARFARE BRANCH – COMMUNICATIONS TECHNICIAN
- BR3 - Chapter 78 - WARFARE BRANCH – DIVER (GENERAL SERVICE)
- BR3 - Chapter 77 - WARFARE BRANCH
- BR3 - Chapter 81 - WARFARE BRANCH – FLEET AIR ARM
- BR3 - Chapter 80 - WARFARE BRANCH – ROYAL NAVY POLICE
- BR3 - Chapter 79 - WARFARE BRANCH – SUBMARINE SERVICE
- "201401 Navy News Jan 14". Content.yudu.com. 2014-04-02. Retrieved 2015-12-27.