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NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom United Kingdom (Navy)
RN WO1 Sleeve Badge cropped.jpg No equivalent Chief Petty Officer Badge.png Petty Officer Badge.png No equivalent Leading Rate Badge.png No equivalent Able Rating Badge.png No equivalent
Warrant Officer Class 1 Chief Petty Officer Petty Officer Leading Rate Able Seaman
Abbreviation WO1 WO2 CPO PO LH AB1 AB2
United Kingdom United Kingdom (Marines)
RN WO1 Sleeve Badge cropped.jpg RN WO2 cropped.jpg OR7 RM Colour Sergeant.svg OR5n6 RM Sergeant.svg No equivalent OR4 RM Corporal.svg OR3 RM Lance Corporal.svg No insignia No equivalent
Warrant Officer Class 1 Warrant Officer Class 2 Colour Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Lance Corporal Marine
Abbreviation WO1 WO2 CSgt Sgt Cpl L/Cpl Mne


Trade (Branch) Badges[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

Trades in the Royal Navy are listed below. Branch sub-specialities are denoted with its appropriate abbreviation on the branch badge.[2] 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.

Engineering[edit | edit source]

Branch Titles Designator
Marine Engineering[fn 1]
Engineering Technician ET[fn 2]
Marine Engineering Artificer MEA
Marine Engineering Mechanic MEM
Air Engineering[fn 3]
Air Engineering Technician AET
Air Engineering Artificer AEA
Air Engineering Mechanic AEM


  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)

Logistics[edit | edit source]

Branch Titles Designator
Logistics Logistician
Writer (Wtr), Supply Chain (SC) Log
Catering Services - Chef, Steward (Std)


Medical Branch[edit | edit source]

Branch Titles Designator
Medical Assistant MA[fn 1]
Medical Technician MT
QARNNS Naval Nurse NN
  1. MAs who are qualified submariners are designated MASM


Warfare[edit | edit source]

Branch Titles Designator
General Service
Warfare Specialist
Abovewater Warfare Weapons (AWW) WS
Abovewater Warfare Tactical (AWT)
Underwater Warfare (UW)
Electronic Warfare (EW)
Communication Information Systems Specialist CIS
Communications Technician[9] CT
Diver[10] D
Hydrographic & Meteorological Specialist HM[fn 1]
Mine Warfare Specialist MW
Royal Navy Police Master-at-arms (Warrant Officers), Regulator (Other Ratings) RNP
Seamanship SEA
Survey Recorder SR
Weapons Analyst WA
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 Service Coxswain (Submarine) Coxn(SM)
Communication Information Systems Specialist Submarine CISSM
Warfare Specialist Tactical Submarine (TSM) WS
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)[edit | edit source]

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.

Chief Petty Officers attain no additional professional qualification and wear the basic device with crown above, however above the left breast pocket, able to show advanced leadership, training abilities and perform the most complex tasks.

1951 to 1975[edit | edit source]

For the Seaman and Naval Airman branches were as follows:

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 Pilots,
  • 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 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'.

History[edit | edit source]

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.

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[edit | edit source]

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[edit | edit source]

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 commmisioned 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)[edit | edit source]

  • 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
  • Regimental Sergeant Major
  • Warrant Officer Class 2
  • Warrant Officer Class 1
  • Warrant Officer
  • Commissioned Warrant Officer

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

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