Royal Navy ratings rank insignia


United Kingdom
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
Abbreviation WO1 WO2 CPO PO - LR - AB -
United Kingdom
(Royal Marines)

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.
Abbreviation WO1 WO2 CSgt Sgt - Cpl LCpl - 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.[2] 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).


Branch Titles Designator
Weapon Engineering Engineering Technician ET
Marine Engineering[fn 1]
Engineering TechnicianET[fn 2]
Marine Engineering ArtificerMEA
Marine Engineering MechanicMEM
Air Engineering[fn 3]
Air Engineering TechnicianAET
Air Engineering ArtificerAEA
Air Engineering MechanicAEM[3][4][5]
  1. 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).
  2. Sub-specialties include Weapon Engineering (WE)
  3. Sub-specialties are mechanical (M), Electrical (L), Radio (R) and Avionics (Av)


Branch Titles Designator
Logistics Logistician WriterWtr
Supply ChainSC
Catering Services (merges Chef and Steward as of 2019)CS[6]


Branch Titles Designator
Medical AssistantMA[fn 1]
Medical TechnicianMT
MedicalMedical Technician Operating Department PractitionerMT(ODP)
QARNNSNaval NurseNN[7][8]
  1. MAs who are qualified submariners are designated MASM


Branch Titles Designator
General Service Warfare Specialist Abovewater Warfare Weapons (AWW)WS
Abovewater Warfare Tactical (AWT)
Underwater Warfare (UW)
Electronic Warfare (EW)
Intelligence (INT)[9]
Communication Information Systems SpecialistCIS
Communications Technician[10]CT
Hydrographic & Meteorological SpecialistHM[fn 1]
Mine Warfare SpecialistMW
Royal Navy PoliceMaster-at-arms (Chief Petty Officers), Regulator (Other Ratings)RNP
Survey RecorderSR
Weapons AnalystWA
Fleet Air Arm
Naval Airman Aircraft Handler (AH)NA[fn 2]
Aircraft Controller (AC)
Survival Equipment (SE)
Aircrewman - Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW)[fn 3]ACMN
Submarine ServiceCoxswain (Submarine)Coxn(SM)
Communication Information Systems Specialist SubmarineCISSM
Warfare SpecialistTactical Submarine (TSM)WS[12][13][14][15]
Sensors Submarine (SSM)
  1. Formerly known as Meteorology & Oceanography (METOC)
  2. 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.
  3. Royal Marines other ranks who qualify are designated Commando Aircrew (RMAC)

Current (since 1975)

Insignia Description
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:

Insignia Description
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,
  • Gunnery
  • 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 classCrown above anchor
Petty officer 2nd classFoul 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 officerCrown above anchor surrounded by laurel wreath
Petty officer 1st classCrown above 2 crossed anchors
Petty officer 2nd classCrown above anchor
Leading seamanFoul 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.[16]

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)
  • Sergeant
  • 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

See also


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