The U.S. Navy has 10 commissioned line officer ranks. An 11th rank, fleet admiral, is reserved for wartime; the last fleet admirals served in World War II. Navy officer ranks are indicated by collar pins on khaki work uniforms, by gold stripes on blue dress uniform sleeves and by gold or silver devices on the shoulder boards of white dress uniforms.
Ensign to Lieutenant
The U.S. Navy's lowest line officer rank is ensign (O-1, ENS), indicated by a single vertical gold collar bar and single wide gold stripe and gold star on outer ends of blue shoulder boards or lower end of the sleeves. The next rank is lieutenant junior grade (O-2, LTJG), indicated by a single vertical silver collar bar and one wide and one narrow gold stripe, plus gold star on shoulder boards or sleeves. Then comes lieutenant (O-3, LT), indicated by a pair of vertical silver collar bars and by two wide gold stripes and a gold star on the shoulder boards or sleeves.
Commanders and Captains
The normal command ranks start with lieutenant commander (O-4, LCDR), indicated by a gold oak leaf collar pin and wide-narrow-wide gold stripes with gold star on outer ends of blue shoulder boards or lower end of the sleeves. Next is commander (O-5, CDR), indicated by a silver oak leaf collar pin and by three wide stripes and a star on shoulder boards or sleeves. Then comes captain (O-6, CAPT), indicated by a silver heraldic spread eagle collar pin and by four wide gold stripes with gold star on shoulder boards or sleeves.
Above a captain is lower rear admiral (O-7, RDML), indicated by a silver, star-shaped collar pin, by gold shoulder boards with a single silver star below a silver anchor, or by a broad gold stripe with gold star on the sleeves. An upper rear admiral (O-8, RADM) is indicated by a pair of stars in line on the collar, by gold shoulder boards with two stars below an anchor and by one broad and one wide gold stripe with gold star on sleeves. Next comes vice admiral (O-9, VADM), indicated by three silver stars in line on the collar, by gold shoulder boards with three silver stars in a triangle below an anchor and by one broad gold stripe and two wide gold stripes with gold star on the sleeves.
At the top is admiral (O-10, ADM), indicated by four silver stars in line on the collar, by gold shoulder boards with four silver stars in a diamond below an anchor and by one broad and three wide gold stripes with gold star on the sleeves.The gold star on a Navy line officer’s shoulder board and sleeve insignia indicates he is in the “line of command” of a ship or shore installation. The Navy also has staff officers with the same 10 ranks that do not have a command responsibility. Staff officers are specialists in professional careers such as medicine or law. Instead of a star, staff officers wear a symbol of their profession with their rank.
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