Royal Navy ratings rank insignia
of the British Armed Forces
|History and future|
| United Kingdom
|No equivalent||No equivalent||No equivalent||No equivalent|
|Warrant Officer Class 1||Chief Petty Officer||Petty Officer||Leading Rate||Able Seaman|
| United Kingdom
|No equivalent||No insignia||No equivalent|
|Warrant Officer Class 1||Warrant Officer Class 2||Colour Sergeant||Sergeant||Corporal||Lance Corporal||Marine|
Trade (Branch) Badges
Ratings in the Royal Navy also carry trade badges on the right sleeve to indicate their specific job (the information carried on the left arm is the individual's rate - e.g. a leading rate, commonly called a leading hand).
A colloquial nickname is "Killick" as their rate badge (worn on the left arm) is a Killick Anchor.
Variances with branch badges include stars and crowns above and below the logo of the branch to symbolise the rate of the person in possession of the badge. The insignia denotes the person's trade and specialty.
Branches and Specialisations
Trades in the Royal Navy are listed below. Branch sub-specialities are denoted with its appropriate abbreviation on the branch badge. Ratings in the Marine Engineering and Medical Branches may opt to obtain their "Dolphins" (qualify to serve in the Royal Navy Submarine Service). Medical personnel have an additional option to pass the All Arms Commando Course and serve in the Commando Logistic Regiment Medical Squadron attached to the Royal Marines.
The Branches were reviewed and revised and was published in the Royal Navy's BR3 (Book of Reference) June 2013 edition, now June 2015 edition.
|Marine Engineering Artificer||MEA|
|Marine Engineering Mechanic||MEM|
|Air Engineering Technician||AET|
|Air Engineering Artificer||AEA|
|Air Engineering Mechanic||AEM|
- 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)
|Medical||Medical Technician Operating Department Practitioner||MT(ODP)|
|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 and above the left breast pocket on working dress||Chief Petty Officers attain no additional professional qualification, able to show advanced leadership, training abilities and perform the most complex tasks.|
1951 to 1975
For the Seaman and Naval Airman branches were as follows:
|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 as follows:
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 had developed its own device badges in its own way and the crowns and stars of one branch did not necessarily have the same meaning as another. In 1948 and 1951 reforms were put in place to bring the branches into line with each other.
A star above the badge normally indicates a man of superior qualifications, and another star below denotes that this man has passed for and is performing certain specific duties e.g.: Gunnery, captain of turret, Torpedo, torpedo-boat coxswain, Signals, passed for highest grade.
The crown is the emblem of Authority, and is common with most Petty Officer, CPO, Instructor and Police badges.
Warrant Officers and above do not wear branch badges as well as Artificers (also known as "Tiffs"). Until the late 90s, Artificer Apprentices and Leading Artificers wore the same uniform as Petty Officers but 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, i.e. they did not wear "square rig".
Badges for naval ratings were first introduced in 1827 and were as follows:
|Petty Officer 1st Class||Crown above anchor|
|Petty Officer 2nd Class||Foul Anchor|
Both were white and to be worn on the upper left sleeve
In 1853 two new ranks were introduced and the badges were altered as follows:
|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 also white, or in 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 their arm badge.
In 1913 the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class was abolished, but the other badges remained the same.
In 1920 Petty officers of 4 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, the same as a Warrant Officer Class 1 in the army and RAF, to which the new rank was exactly equivalent. This rank was later renamed Warrant Officer, and later still 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.
Nowadays the badges are worn on the shoulders of 3A/B and 4A/B.
Chevrons on the left sleeve below the rank badge are for long service & good conduct (one for each 4-year period; no more than 3 may be worn).
Chief Petty Officer within the Royal Navy when dressed in the Blue Uniform wear three buttons on their sleeves to indicate rank, the same rank insignia (but topped with a star) that is used by Chilean Navy midshipmen.
Royal Marines Other Ranks
As the Royal Marines share the ranks of British Army, the other ranks are similar, but in red and gold (in the full dress) or green and gold (in the duty uniform) chevrons from Lance Corporals to Staff Sergeants and sharing the same warrant officer insignia as the RN's. Formerly the insignia for the all ORs were red save for senior NCOs.
History of the RM other ranks
Formerly, RM other ranks were the same as the Army's even as the RM (then the His Majesty's Marine Forces) moved to the Royal Navy in the middle of the 18th century. In the 19th century as the service split into two, the basic ranks were Private for the RM proper (RM Light Infantry) and Gunner for the artillery branch (Royal Marine Artillery), and while both had Lance corporals and Corporals the RMA also had Lance Bombardiers and Bombardiers, but the senior NCO ranks stayed on. But in 1881 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 1910 the services introduced RN styled warrant officer ranks, 1915 was when the RMLI and RMA joined the Army in adopting the Warrant Officer ranks (WO Class II and WO Class I) and 5 years later the warrant officer ranks were merged and were given the same status as their counterparts in the Royal Navy (WOIIs who had them before the 1920 abolition retained them). With the merger of the services in 1923 into today's Royal Marines all other ranks were merged, and Marine became the basic rank. In 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.
Sergeant majors and warrant officers of the RM in the 1930s were divided into regular and commissioned sergeant majors, regular and commissioned warrant officers and their equivalents, in a similar way to the RN's warrant officers, and were saluted as officers. As the same case with the RN WOs, they were transformed into branch officers in 1949 and special duties officers in 1956, formally losing their status. The WOs were reinstated in 1972 formally replacing the Quartermaster Sergeant and SM and their equivalents.
Full list of past and present RM other ranks (past ranks indicated in italic)
- 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
- Regimental Sergeant Major
- Warrant Officer Class 2
- Warrant Officer Class 1
- Warrant Officer
- Commissioned Warrant Officer
- Ranks and Insignia of NATO Navies enlisted
- Royal Navy officer rank insignia
- RAF other ranks
- British Army Other Ranks rank insignia
- 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
- BR3 - Chapter 85 - LOGISTICS BRANCH
- BR3 - Chapter 89 - MEDICAL BRANCH – QUEEN ALEXANDRA ROYAL NAVAL NURSING SERVICE
- BR3 - Chapter 87 - MEDICAL BRANCH – MEDICAL ASSISTANT AND TECHNICIAN
- 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.