Royal Navy ratings rank insignia

Royal Navy ratings rank insignia
NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
United Kingdom Royal Navy
No equivalent No equivalent OR2 RN Able Rate.gif No equivalent
Warrant Officer Class 1 Warrant Officer Class 2 Chief Petty Officer Petty Officer Leading Rate Able Seaman First Class Able Seaman Second Class
Abbreviation WO1 WO2 CPO PO LH AB1 AB2
United Kingdom United Kingdom (Royal Marines)
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
United Kingdom
Surface fleet
Fleet Air Arm
Submarine Service
Royal Naval Reserve
Nursing Service (QARNNS)
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Royal Marines Reserve
Special Boat Service
History and future
History of the Royal Navy
History of the Royal Marines
Customs and traditions
Future of the Royal Navy
Current fleet
Current deployments
Historic ships
The Admiralty
Senior officers
Officer rank insignia
Ratings rank insignia
Related civilian agencies of
the Ministry of Defence
Royal Maritime Auxiliary Service
(now privatised)
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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).

As a nickname they are known as 'Killick' as their rate badge (worn on the left arm) is a Killick Anchor) who is also in the marine engineering department is known as a "Leading Marine Engineering Mechanic" (LMEM), whereas someone of the same rate who specialises in gunnery (LS(AWW)) (which would also make them responsible for certain seamanship aspects on the upper deck) will be known as "Leading Seaman" (LS).

An overview of trade badges is given on the Royal Navy's website.

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

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.

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

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'.


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.


  1. ^ The Dress of the British Sailor HMSO 1957 Badges and Insignia if the British Armed Services publishe by Adam & Charles Black London 1974 BRD 81 Naval Service Uniform Regulations Chapter 3 (0317) 2009 Naval and Marine Badges and Insignia of WW2 Guido Rosignoli, Blandford Press

External links

See also

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