Filipinos in the United States Navy

Prepared by: Bureau of Naval Personnel
October 1976

Opportunities Within the Navy Rating Structure
Recent Personnel Actions
Filipinos Enlisted in the Navy
Filipino Officer and Enlisted Distribution by Rank and Pay Grade
Ratings Open to Philippine Nationals
Memorandum for PERS-161


President William McKinley signed an executive order in 1901 allowing the Navy to enlist 500 Filipinos as part of the insular force. Secretary of the Navy John D. Long signed General Order No. 40, 8 April 1901, promulgating the executive order.

Prior to 1946, Filipinos were generally assigned to steward duties. After the granting of independence to the Philippine Islands in 1946, this source of recruitment was closed.

In 1947, the United States concluded an agreement with the Republic of the Philippines which specified that the United States would be permitted to recruit citizens of the Philippines for voluntary enlistment into the United States Armed Forces. Filipinos are recruited into the Navy under the provisions of Article XXVII of the Military Bases Agreement between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines of 14 March 1947. However, there was no requirement for such recruitment prior to the Korean conflict. Expanded personnel requirements at this time resulted in an urgent need for additional stewards in the US Navy. Consequently, an agreement was negotiated in 1952 based upon the 1947 agreement whereby up to 1,000 Filipino citizens could be enlisted in the US Navy each year. This agreement was amended upon the request of the United States in 1954 to raise this number to 2,000 a year. The agreement between the two governments may be terminated by either party on one year’s notice. Pursuant to these agreements, the Commander, Naval Forces, Philippines, under the direction of the Chief of Naval Personnel, is responsible for processing applicants for the US Navy. Annual enlistments of Filipinos are depicted in TAB (A).


Under the Nationality Act of 1940, aliens who served honorably in the armed forces for three years or more could be naturalized as US citizens without having to meet certain normal requirements of naturalization such as lawful admission into the United States for permanent residence. The Nationality Act of 1940, however, was repealed on 27 June 1952, effective 24 December 1952 by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (8 USC 1101 et seq) which contains many provisions similar to those of the 1940 Act, but in the case of an alien who served honorably in the armed forces for three years requires that he shall have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Under this law, aliens are normally admitted for permanent residence under the quota system.

On 26 September 1961, the Immigration and Nationality Act was amended (Public Law 87-301) to grant, among other things, to veterans of the Korean Conflict the same naturalization benefits that had been granted to veterans of World War I and World War II. Under this Act, members of the armed forces who served in World War I, World War II, or the Korean Conflict (25 June 1950 to 1 July 1955) need not be lawfully admitted for permanent residence in order to qualify for naturalization provided they had been enlisted or reenlisted in the United States, Canal Zone, American Samoa, or Swains Island at any time prior thereto. Public Law 90-633, in part, ascends S USC 1440 by extending to servicemen serving during the Vietnam conflict the same naturalization benefits provided by the Act to those who served during the previous wars and armed conflict. This law waives the requirement for lawful entry into the United States for permanent residence in the United States for members who served honorably at any time from 23 February 1961, to the end of the Vietnam conflict.

The 1947 agreement between the US and the Philippine government is still in force because of mutual benefit to both countries.


The inequities regarding minorities in the Navy have been and are a matter of continuing concern. In recognition of this problem, the Navy has initiated programs of equal opportunity and treatment for all its members, regardless of race, creed, religion, or national origin. These programs have enjoyed moderate success in increasing minority population in the Navy as well as broadening career patterns and upward mobility for minority personnel. TAB (B) portrays enlisted and officer distribution by pay grade. Among these programs were specific actions taken to improve the inequities in the Steward (SD) rating where Filipinos were predominate.

As of February 1971, Philippine nationals were recruited as Seaman Recruits Vice Stewardsman, thus providing the opportunity for Filipinos to serve within a much broader range of Navy ratings. In September 1972 the Applicant Qualification Test (AQT) was implemented for pre-enlistment screening of Filipino applicants. The AQT replaced the Philippine Applicant Test (PAT) which was oriented toward the Steward rating. Recruits meeting the minimum AQT scores were offered a conditional school guarantee for one of five ratings open to Filipino recruits—Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (AB), Aviation Machinist’s Mate (AD), Boilerman (BT), Machine Repairman (MM), and Steward (SD). In recruit training, The Basic Test Battery was administered and those maintaining eligibility were then sent to “A” School. The remaining recruits were assigned to the general ratings, they could strike for any of the 30 ratings (see TAB C) open to Filipino recruits. Again, it should be noted that while any of the 30 ratings are technically open, the actual needs of the unit to which to which they are attached will influence the actual rating that they can pursue, e.g., a person on board a destroyer (DD) would have a difficult time qualifying for the PR (Parachute rigger/Aviation equipment technician) rating. Since virtually all of the new Filipino accessions will be Foreign Nationals as defined by the Advancement Manual, they are automatically barred from ratings requiring access to classified information. In the past, Filipinos who were school eligible tended to choose “A” schools or ratings in the administrative and clerical, medical and dental fields. The Advancement Manual does provide that an applicant for US Citizenship may enter any rating (in addition to those listed in TAB C) for which he is qualified to provided that a Background Investigation is completed satisfactorily and that he actually becomes a naturalized citizen within the prescribed interval.


Z-Gram 33 of 25 September 1970 implemented Navy Exchange and Commissary Store Advisory Boards. The composition of these boards was to contain a representative ethnic and minority base. This requirement is now contained in OPNAVINST 1700.2B, Navy Exchange and Commissary Store Advisory Boards.

Z-Gram 66 of 17 December 1970 expedited a program begun by Commander Naval Supply Systems Command, to ensure that major commissaries stock food and produce frequently requested by minority groups. This requirement is now contained within OPNAVINST 5354.1 US Navy Equal Opportunity Manual

OPNAVNOTE 1500 of 12 October 1973 provided for English Language training for Filipinos to aid them with the communication skills that are essential to a successful and rewarding career in the Navy.

In 1975 the combination of the CS (Commissaryman) and the SD (Steward) ratings was approved. This consolidation has improved the prestige of the food service ratings within the Navy as a whole. Menial duties, such bed making, which were formally associated with the steward rating are now handled by general messmen. Advancement opportunities were also improved with the merger of the two ratings into the MS (Mess Management Specialists) rating.



Fiscal Years
1944-1946 2,289
1953-1958 5,525
1959 980
1960 1,169
1961 1,675
1962 644
1963 590
1964 1,248
1965 1,964
1966 1,716
1967 1,845
1968 2,146
1969 1,284
1970 633
1971 422
1972 484
1973 1,496
1974 1,271
1975 1,862
1976 554



FLAG 0 0
CAPT 0 0
CDR 7 0
LCDR 13 3
LT 20 6
LTJG 12 1
ENS 11 1
CWO4 0 0
CWO3 9 0
CWO2 7 0
WO1 1 0
TOTAL 80 11

E-9 35 0
E-8 148 0
E-7 988 0
E-6 3,075 0
E-5 5,005 2
E-4 3,896 19
E-3 2,171 18
E-2 1,353 18
E-1 290 11
TOTAL 16,961 68



27 October 1976


1. The policy of recruiting Philippine nationals into the U.S. Navy exclusively as Stewards, was modified in 1971 by State Department agreement with the Philippine government to allow Filipino's entering the Navy to enter any enlisted rating they were considered qualified for by means of education, prior experience, and security qualifications. Details of this agreement should be requested from State Department sources if desired.

2. The Steward rating was discontinued in December 1974. Members of the former Steward rating were merged with members of the Commissary rating in January 1975 to form the new Mess Management Specialist, (MS) modified. There are currently 17,000+ personnel in the MS rating, composed of 44% Malaysian, 11% Black, and 45% Caucasian. The new MS rating covers most of the responsibilities of both the former CS and SD ratings and is also responsible for Bachelors Enlisted Quarters Management. One exception to this rule, however, was in the area of providing routine housekeeping/cleaning services for officers. In this case these services are now provided to all Navy personnel in a similar manner and are not part of the rating responsibilities for MS personnel.
Very respectfully,


J.S. Hooker

Source: United States Navy, Bureau of Naval Personnel. "Filipinos in the United States Navy." October 1976, "Filipinos" file, Vertical File collection, Navy Department Library. The "Filipinos" vertical file does not contain more current information about Filipinos in the US Navy.