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Chief Petty Officers' Uniforms U.S. Navy


"Grays OK for Sea; CPO Blues Changed." All Hands. 381 (November 1948): 47.

"Navy Uniform Worn by Commissioned Officers, Warrants and CPOs has Long History Too." All Hands. 460 (June 1955): 30-31.

"New Tropical Uniform is Approved for Officers, CPOs." All Hands. 451 (September 1954): 37.

"Officer and CPO Uniforms Available from 200 Retail, 90 Ship's Service Stores." All Hands. 336 (March 1945): 79.

"Officer Uniforms Listed for Regulars, Reserves." All Hands. 354 (August 1946): 71.

"Regs Revised on Uniforms of CPOs, Cooks, Stewards and Naval Personnel Serving with Marine Forces." All Hands. 326 (May 1944): 65.

Shaffer, Larry C. "CPO Uniform Standards" in Military Requirements for Chief Petty Officer. Pensacola, FL: Naval Education and Training Command, 1988.

"Slate Grays Authorized for C.P.O.s." All Hands. 318 (September 1943): 72.

Grays OK for Sea; CPO Blues Changed

Navy personnel on board ship actually at sea may continue to wear gray uniforms until 15 Oct 1949. In stating this, Alnav 61-48 (NDB, 30 Sept 1948) grants the same extension to Naval Reserve personnel for drills and normal periods of training duty not extended. The gray uniform will be worn in general conformance with regulations governing khaki uniforms.

Other rulings regarding uniforms are given in Alnav 63-48 (NDB, 30 Sept 1948):

Half stripes on officers' blue uniforms are no longer authorized.

Dark gray uniform for Navy Nurse Corps is abolished.

Old-style CPOs' blue coat and overcoat are abolished.

The old-style chief petty officers' overcoat can be changed to agree with new regulations by adding a half belt in back and putting new-style buttons on the coat. To alter the blue uniform coat to conform in general to regulations, the two center buttonholes would have to be rewoven and a new buttonhole cut between the upper and lower ones. The three buttonholes then existing must be large enough to accommodate the larger officer-style buttons.

Alnav 63 authorizes senior officer present to permit wearing of khaki working uniform with coat as a liberty uniform on foreign stations by ship-based and advance base personnel when suitable dry cleaning facilities are not available.

Source: "Grays OK for Sea; CPO Blues Changed."All Hands. 381 (November 1948): 47.


Navy Uniform Worn by Commissioned Officers, Warrants and CPOs Has Long History Too

The uniform worn by officers and chief petty officers is, like the bluejacket's outfit, one of the most distinctive in the world.

Down through the years this uniform, which is shared by commissioned officers, WOs and men in the highest enlisted grade, has rated tops in prestige. And like the enlisted uniform, it is immediately recognized as the garb of the sea-faring man, not only in this country but by citizens in all corners of the globe.

While there is a lengthy tradition in the badges and insignia representative of the officer's and CPO's uniform, the uniform itself has undergone a great deal of change over the years, and many of the changes have been major ones which have completely altered the appearance of all concerned.

It is doubtful if a naval officer, vintage 1776, would be recognized if he were to step on aboard one of today's Navy ships. He would be dressed in an outfit made up of a blue coat with red lapels, a standing collar, flat yellow buttons, blue breeches and red waistcoat. This was the first uniform for officers of the Continental Navy as prescribed by the Marine Committee during the Revolutionary War.

In those days of low pay, when a captain made less than a seaman does today, it is doubtful if many of the officers ever gathered together a complete outfit as prescribed. For the most part, in those early days, the captains dressed pretty much as tastes dictated.

Following the British surrender the Navy was put under the office of the Secretary of War and the first official regulations concerning the dress of an officer of the US Navy were issued.

That uniform was described as a blue coat with buff lapels and gold epaulets. The buttons were of yellow metal having a foul anchor and the American eagle on them. The trousers were to be of the same material as the coat. A few years later laced gold, for decoration only and not to denote rank, was added to the uniform and the officers became a colorful group.

Keeping pace with the civilian dress of the time pantaloons were introduced into the Navy in 1813 when warrant officers came in for their first attention, uniformwise. The uniform regulations covering warrant officers said that they should be decked out in a uniform comprised of a short black coat with six buttons on the lapel, and rolled cuffs. They were to wear blue pantaloons, a white vest and a round hat with a cockade. Several years later the warrant's uniform was modified to include a doublebreasted coat with the lapel buttoned back, a white vest and white pantaloons.

A move towards simplicity in the officers' uniforms is recorded in 1841 when the laced gold was removed and the only indication of rank was the number of buttons on a coat. A captain's full dress coat was ornamented only with two rows of nine buttons down the front, four buttons on the top of each cuff and three on the skirt of the coat. Officers with lesser rank wore fewer buttons.

It soon became an acknowledged fact that something else was needed to denote rank as people not familiar with the uniform couldn't decide what rank the officer they were addressing held.

Accordingly, in 1845 epaulets came back to the uniform with varying size stripes for the different ranks. It is interesting to note that the description of the sword belt worn then is the same as that now worn for formal occasions.

When, during the Civil War, the rank of admiral was established, the first gold stripes on the sleeves of all officers' blouses were added to indicate rank. At the same time the uniform was changed completely and was composed of a frock coat with epaulets, a cocked hat, a sword and plain pantaloons. The gold stripes ranged from eight quarter inch stripes for the rear admiral, down to one stripe for an ensign. At that time a star was added on the sleeve of all line officers to distinguish them from staff corps officers.

For some time after that the uniform remained the same, but when a change did come it came in the form of the forerunner of the officers' uniforms worn today. In 1877 the form fitting, single breasted, service blue blouse and trousers with a fly front were adopted. Sleeve stripes remained the same and that uniform became the Navy uniform until after World War I.

Uniform Regulations of 1886 provided for the first enlisted men, as such, to wear a new style of trousers differing from the traditional bell bottoms. First class petty officers (the CPO rating did not exist then) were given authority to be outfitted in a double breasted coat with a rolling collar, five gilt buttons on each breast and trousers the same as the officers.

The rate of chief petty officer was included in the rating structure in 1893 and the new CPOs were given the uniform provided earlier for first class petty officers. The 1st class reverted to bell bottoms at that time.

Since that time the uniforms of the officers and chiefs have grown to be more and more alike, until today the only difference is in the indication of rank and rate.

In 1899 the rank of chief warrant officer was established. The warrants wore the same uniform as other officers by this time, except for sleeve markings, and it became necessary to design a special distinguishing sleeve mark for the chief warrants. The resulting half-inch broken stripe was worn until recently.

The single breasted blouse remained a fixture in the Navy until World War I, when there developed demand for a double-breasted blouse. That was adopted in 1918 and, at the same time, all collar marks on the service coat were eliminated, leaving only the sleeve markings as identification.

Two new specialties that have developed greatly since World War I have been responsible for two additions to officers' uniforms. The aviation branch found that blues were unsuitable for flying, and as a result the green uniform was adopted for duty involving flying. The men of the submarine forces found the blues too warm and bulky for wear while in the boats and khakis supplied the answer. These soon became the official summer uniform for all officers and CPOs.

Recently there have been only minor changes to the officer's and CPO's uniform. What changes have been made were in the interest of comfort or styling and haven't outwardly changed the over-all appearance of the uniform.

Today's officers and CPOs have uniforms for varying needs and different geographical and climatic conditions, outfits that are adaptable to service in any and all parts of the world.

These range from the smart blue uniform, so traditional among all Navies, to the new tropical uniform recently approved by the Uniform Board.

In addition to those two, the officers and chiefs have the service dress and working khaki uniforms; aviation green for those who fly and dress whites for official functions.

The new tropical uniform is a cool and practical outfit composed of white or khaki trousers, with an open-neck, short-sleeve shirt. Shoes, socks and cap cover match the rest of the uniform, either white or khaki.

Before the change shorts had been substituted for the trousers but the long trousers will fill the need for a uniform that is more dress than shorts, yet cooler and more practical in hot weather than either the service khaki or white service.

Added to that list is the dungaree uniform which officers and chiefs often wear when involved in work that would damage or soil their other outfits.

Taking all things into consideration Navymen, officer and enlisted, take a prominent place on the list of the best outfitted men in the world. They wear the uniform of the sea service with the pride that is expected of representatives of the strongest Navy in existence.

Source: "Navy Uniform Worn by Commissioned Officers, Warrants and CPOs has Long History Too." All Hands. 460 (June 1955): 30-31.


New Tropical Uniform is Approved for Officers, CPOs

Relief may be on the way for officers and CPOs who are serving in hot duty stations and have no appropriate summer dress uniforms.

A forthcoming change to Uniform Regulations will authorize commands to prescribe long trousers in lieu of shorts as part of the present Tropical Uniform, either khaki or white.

Thus the new alternate tropical uniform will be open-neck, short-sleeve shirt with collar insignia, long trousers, shoes, socks and cap cover match, in either white or khaki.

The new uniform is considered to be cool and practical; and in white should be good looking enough for summer service dress occasions as well as duty, if considered suitable and appropriate by the prescribing command.

Uniform Regulations currently provide tropical white or khaki (shorts); khaki working uniform, service dress khaki (with or without coat), white service, full dress white for ceremonies, and dinner and evening dress white (or white jacket optional) for social occasions. The new alternate tropical (with long trousers) is expected to fill the need for a uniform that is more dress than shorts, but cooler and more practical than service khaki or white service.

Source: "New Tropical Uniform is Approved for Officers, CPOs." All Hands. 451 (September 1954): 37.


Officer and CPO Uniforms Available from 200 Retail, 90 Ship's Service Stores

Under the Navy Officers' Uniform Plan, which was developed by BuS&A more than two years ago, high-quality ready-made uniforms now are available at reasonable cost to officers and CPOs from 200 retail stores approved by the Navy Department and from 90 ship's service stores.

A complete list of the stores approved by the Navy Department to handle the uniforms for the naval administrative organization, The Naval Uniform Service, Inc., 220 Fifth Avenue, New York 1, N.Y., appears in the February 1945 issue of the Paymaster General's Monthly Newsletter, which has been distributed to all officers of the Supply Corps.

All wool uniforms sold under the plan carry an official Navy label, which bears an embroidered copy of the cap device and states: "This label identifies a garment made and sold under authority of the U.S. Navy. Regulation U.S. Navy Uniform." Alteration prices which may be charged by retailers and ship's service stores are fixed at reasonable levels by agreement with the Navy.

Listed below are descriptions and prices of the uniforms now available through the plan, which no longer includes braid, insignia, devices and caps; prices are the maximum that may be charged, but do not restrict sale at lower figures by such outlets as ship's service stores:

Commissioned or warrant officers' service blue uniforms - price $40; extra trousers, $10. This uniform includes coat and trousers of fine quality 16-ounce, two-ply pure worsted serge. It meets all government specifications regarding wool stock, yarn, weight, dye, shrinkage, finish and tensile strength. This uniform is regulation for officers of the U.S. Coast Guard and Maritime Service when appropriate insignia is affixed.

Commissioned officers' or warrant officers' overcoat - price, $50. This coat is made of beaver-finish cloth, a pliant and durable wool fleece, 30-ounce, Kersey, which meets all Government specifications for wool stock, yarn, weight, dye, shrinkage, finish and tensile strength. When proper insignia are added it is also regulation for U.S. Coast Guard and Maritime Service officers.

Commissioned or warrant officers' raincoat-overcoat with removable lining - price, $38.50. This coat is made of fine quality 16-ounce, two-ply worsted serge, cravenetted and rain-resistant. The button-in "warmer" is of pure wool flannel, and provides excellent insulation against cold. This garment is also regulation for Navy CPOs, U.S. Coast Guard and Maritime Service officers.

Aviation winter working uniform - price, $50; extra trousers, $12. This forestry-green uniform, including coat and trousers, is made of fine 18-ounce pure worsted elastique. It is color-fast to light, crocking and perspiration. The cloth has been pre-shrunk by the London Cold Water Process. The same uniform, with appropriate insignia, is regulation for Navy CPOs.

Chief petty officers' service blue uniform - price, $30; extra trousers, $8. This uniform is made of fine quality 16-ounce two-ply pure worsted serge, which conforms with Government specifications for wool stock, yarn, weight, dye, shrinkage, finish and tensile strength. It is also regulation, with appropriate insignia, for CPOs in the Coast Guard and Maritime Service.

Source: "Officer and CPO Uniforms Available from 200 Retail, 90 Ship's Service Stores." All Hands. 336 (March 1945): 79.


Officer Uniforms Listed for Regulars, Reserves

All USN officers were reminded that they must provide themselves with a complete outfit of prescribed blue, white and khaki or gray uniforms prior to reporting for duty afloat, to be ready for any occasion.

The directive, contained in Alnav 381-46 (NDB, 15 July), states that reserve officers continuing on duty after 1 September shall provide uniforms adequate for the duty assigned. Uniforms which will impose the least hardship will be prescribed by responsible officers for personnel in this category.

Attention is invited to article 19-1, US Navy Uniform Regulations, 1941, which lists the minimum outfit of articles of uniform prescribed for officers of the regular Navy, and article 16-1 which prescribes the articles of uniform required for naval reserve officers which comprise all uniform now in use. Alnav 93-40 which discontinued the wearing of dress clothes during the present emergency remains in effect.

Source: "Officer Uniforms Listed for Regulars, Reserves." All Hands. 354 (August 1946): 71.


Regs Revised on Uniforms of CPOs, Cooks, Stewards and Naval Personnel Serving with Marine Forces

Several changes and additions to Navy Uniform Regulations have just been announced by BuPers.

A miniature cap device approximately three-fourths the size of the present cap device with the same design has been approved for CPO garrison caps, to be worn on the left side of the cap, two inches from the front edge.

The working uniform for chief cooks, chief stewards, and cooks and stewards is the same as that prescribed for CPOs (including both khaki and gray), except these men shall wear blue-black plastic buttons of so-called 30-line size and bearing the anchor design, regulation black bow ties and regular caps with cloth cover matching the color of their uniforms. The present "USN" cap device prescribed for chief cooks, chief stewards, and cooks and stewards remains unchanged.

Naval officers attached to Marine Corps organizations may wear the field uniform prescribed for Marine Corps officers but with the Navy miniature cap device, bronzed, instead of the Marine cap device.

Navy enlisted men with the marines must wear the Marine enlisted field uniform when so ordered and when it is furnished to them at no expense. Rated men will wear naval rating badges and distinguishing marks with blue markings (except for the red cross for hospital corpsmen) on a background to match the color of the uniform. Chief petty officers will wear their miniature cap device, bronzed.

(Detailed in Circ. Ltr. No. 97-44, semi-monthly N. D. Bul., 31 March, 44-383.)

Source: "Regs Revised on Uniforms of CPOs, Cooks, Stewards and Naval Personnel Serving with Marine Forces."All Hands. 326 (May 1944): 65.


Chapter 11 CPO Uniform Standards


The styles of the CPO uniform have changed since the founding days of the U.S. Navy. However, the caliber of the people who wear it and the pride and professionalism they display have not changed.

You undergo one of the most significant changes of your naval career the day you put on the hat. Just as your responsibilities change, your uniform and accessories also change.

This chapter describes the uniforms and accessories you will wear on different occasions. It also tells you how to maintain your uniforms so that they reflect your pride and professionalism in the Navy.

Grooming standards are essentially the same for all personnel; but as a senior petty officer, you must interpret and enforce these standards. This chapter presents these requirements to you as the supervisor rather than you as the worker.

Before actually being advanced or frocked, you will attend the Chief Petty Officer Indoctrination Course. This course provides you with an indepth, up-to-date, and hands-on introduction to your new uniform requirements.


When was the term chief petty officer first used? Where did our uniform styles originate? These questions have generated many discussions in CPO messes over the years.

According to naval records, the first mention of the chief petty officer was on a ship's muster roll in 1775. This brief mention of the CPO title did not resurface in naval history for almost 100 years.

The history and design of our uniform date back to the 18th century Continental Navy of 1776. With the colonization of the new world, a need for a navy became apparent. Many of the people that settled our nation learned their seafaring skills in England. These sailors brought not only their seafaring skills, but also their customs, traditions, and uniform similarities to this country. Many of our uniform styles can be traced to the British Royal Navy. As you can see in figure 11-1 [not included], many of the original uniform styles have remained throughout the years.

In 1865 a Navy regulation reestablished the term chief petty officer. The term was first used for the ship's Master-at-Arms. It made him responsible for preservation of order and obedience to all regulations. An excerpt from an 1865 regulation tasked the senior enlisted person with the following responsibility:

"The Master-at-Arms will be the chief petty officer of the ship in which he shall serve. All orders from him in regard to the police of the vessel, the preservation of order, and the obedience to regulations must be obeyed by all petty officers and others of the crew. But he shall have no right to succession in command, and shall exercise no authority in matters no specified above."

This, however, did not establish the term chief as a rate. It was merely a function rather than a rate. Petty officers were divided into petty officers of the line and petty officers of the staff. Chief referred to the principal petty officer of the ship.

The next reference to the term chief was in U.S. Navy Regulations Circular Number 41 dated 8 January 1885. Here again the term chief refers to a function or title rather than a rate. The men filling these chief billets were actually first and second class petty officers. The classification of these ratings can be seen in figure 11-2 [not included].

A significant change to uniforms and rating badges occurred in 1886. The first class petty officer wore a double-breasted sack-style jacket, while petty officers second class and below retained the traditional jumper-style uniform. The first class rating badge consisted of an eagle, three chevrons, and a specialty mark. The Master-at-Arms rating badge, however, consisted of an eagle, three chevrons, a specialty mark, and three arcs or rockers. This jacket along with the Master-at-Arms rating badge falsely led many people to believe this was a chief petty officer uniform.

On 25 February 1893, President Benjamin Harrison issued an executive order outlining the pay scale for Navy enlisted personnel. This executive order was issued to the Navy as General Order Number 409. This general order divided the pay scale into rates and for the first time listed CPOs. Both General Order Number 409 and U.S. Navy Regulation Circular Number 1 listed chief petty officers as distinct rates. These documents went into effect on 1 April 1893. All evidence indicates this as the date the chief petty officer rate was actually established.

So, what is the answer to the question, When was the term chief petty officer first used in the Navy? Based on U.S. Navy Regulation Circular Number 1, the majority of first class petty officer ratings were automatically reclassed as chief petty officer ratings.

On 24 September 1894 General Order Number 431 was issued. This general order changed the three rockers on the Master-at-Arms rating badge to one rocker. We know this as the rating badge of the CPO today. This general order also changed first, second, and third class chevrons to their present-day form.


You should consider a neat, clean uniform to be a tool of your trade. As a CPO, your trade has changed to the business of getting things done by your subordinates. A CPO who presents a sharp military appearance usually gets things done better than the nonprofessional who presents a poor appearance. Think about who receives the most respect: the person who presents a sloppy appearance or the one who wears the uniform with pride. A person who rates respect looks the part.


The uniforms prescribed for you as a CPO are divided into four separate categories. They are dinner dress, ceremonial, service dress, and working uniforms.

Figure 11-5 [not included] shows dinner dress uniforms. You normally wear these uniforms to the types of official functions that are equivalent to your civilian counterpart's black tie function. The dinner dress blue jacket and dinner dress white jacket uniforms are optional. If the official function calls for this type of uniform, you should wear it if you have one. If you do not have the uniform, you may wear another prescribed uniform. You should already have combinations of the dinner dress blue, dinner dress white, and tropical dinner dress blue uniforms. Although you may not always wear the same components for these functions, you will wear the same basic uniform.

Full dress blue and full dress white are variations of the service dress blue and service dress white uniforms. You wear medals on these uniforms instead of the ribbons that you wear on service dress uniforms.

You normally wear full dress uniforms on ceremonial occasions. Such occasions include change of command, official visits with honors, and visits to foreign men-of-war and official dignitaries.

Figure 11-6 [not included] shows service dress white and service dress blue uniforms. You normally wear this uniform to official functions that do not prescribe formal dress, dinner dress, or full dress uniforms. The civilian equivalent would be a coat-and-tie function. Service dress blue yankee, an optional uniform made up of components from required uniforms, may be prescribed for official functions. The service dress blue uniform is authorized for travel during any uniform season unless civilian clothing is required for safety.

Figure 11-7 [not included] shows summer white, winter blue, summer khaki, and tropical white uniforms. You normally wear these uniforms for office work, watch standing, liberty, and business ashore. These uniforms may be prescribed as the uniform of the day. You normally wear the tropical white uniform in tropical climates. You may also wear it for the same occasions as the other service uniforms. Females do not have an equivalent tropical white uniform.

Figure 11-8 [not included] shows the working uniforms - working khaki, winter working blue, and tropical khaki. You wear these uniforms when working conditions for service uniforms are unsafe or the service uniform would become unduly soiled. You normally wear the tropical khaki uniform in tropical climates. Females do not have an equivalent tropical khaki uniform.

If you are assigned to an aviation command, you have the option of wearing the aviation working green uniform. You may wear this uniform, if authorized, when working at aviation activities, flying, or aboard vessels servicing aircraft. You may also wear this uniform at advanced bases when prescribed by the senior officer present.


As a member of the United States Navy, you should set and maintain the highest standards of uniform appearance. Your attention to detail reflects the Navy's image to the public. You should keep your uniform scrupulously clean. The gold bullion lace, devices, and insignia should be bright and free from tarnish and corrosion. When you are in uniform, no articles, such as pencils, pens, jewelry, combs, large wallets, cigarettes, or pipes, should protrude or be visible on your uniform. If you wear a cross, pendant, or some other emblem, you should ensure that it is not visible. You may wear wristwatches, bracelets, and rings while in uniform, but they should be in good taste. You may wear tie clasps, cuff links, and shirt studs as outlined in U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations(Uniform Regs).

When wearing jewelry you should not wear something that would create a safety hazard for you or one of your workers. You should avoid wearing any eccentric or faddish articles that may bring attention to you in either a negative or positive manner.

You may wear sunglasses when not in military formation, but they should be conservative in style.

You should wear undergarments that preserve the dignity and appearance of your uniform.


The most dramatic change to your uniform is your cap. As a CPO, you wear a combination cap similar to the type worn by commissioned officers except with minor changes. One of these changes is the cap device, the CPO insignia. This insignia is a fouled anchor with the silver letters "USN" superimposed on the anchor shank. Instead of a gold chin strap, as on the officer's cap, the chin strap on the CPO cap is leather, covered with black vinyl. This black vinyl gives the appearance of patent leather. The strap adjusts by two adjusting loops, one on either end. The chin strap attaches to the cap with two small Navy eagle gilt buttons. When you wear the cap, the eagles on these buttons should be upright. When assembling the combination cap, you should ensure the rivet (centered in the adjustment Loop) is to your left when wearing the cap. You wear the cap squarely on the head, 1 ½ inches above the eyebrow. You may also wear a garrison cap or tropical helmet if it is prescribed by proper authority. You wear a tropical helmet with a miniature cap device centered on the front of the helmet in tropical climates. Women CPOs may wear either a tiara or the combination cap with the formal dinner dress white and blue uniform.

Rating Badges

The CPO rating badge is similar to the first class rating badge. The basic difference is the position of the eagle. On the CPO badge, it is perched on the center point of the rocker or arc. The chevrons on the male rating badge measure 3 ¼ inches across; on the female rating badge, they measure 2 ½ inches across or about ¾ the size of the male rating badge. The color of the rocker and chevrons depends on each particular uniform.

The rating badge worn on the dress blue uniform has a navy blue background with the eagle and specialty mark embroidered in silver thread. The rating badge and service stripes are either scarlet or gold, depending on the length and type of service. Service stripes are discussed later in this chapter.

The white dress dinner jacket rating badge has a white background. The rating badge and service stripes are blue or gold, depending on the length and type of service. The specialty mark is silver. The aviation working green uniform rating badge has a forest green background. The rating badge, service stripes, and specialty mark are navy blue. You do not wear a rating badge on the tropical dinner dress blue, summer white, service dress white, full dress white, dinner dress white, or khaki uniforms.

Senior and Master Chief Petty Officers

The rating badge of a senior or master chief petty officer varies only slightly from the chief petty officer's rating badge. The senior chief petty officer rating badge has a silver star centered about 1 inch above the head of the eagle. On the cap and collar devices, the star is in the ring of the stock. The master chief petty officer rating badge has one star placed about 1 inch above each wing tip. The stars on the cap and collar devices are placed on the upper edge of the stock. The stars for senior and master chief are made of embroidered silver thread. When a master chief petty officer is assigned as the command master chief, the specialty mark is replaced with a silver star. If assigned to a billet as fleet or force master chief, the stars will be of embroidered gold thread. The Master Chief of the Navy wears three gold stars in a line above the eagle. A gold star replaces the rating specialty mark. The collar and cap devices also have three stars, but the center star is slightly higher than the other two.

Collar Devices

Figure 11-12 [not included] shows the CPO collar device. On short-sleeved shirts, wear the device with the crown pointing toward the corner of the collar. Center the device on a vertical axis intersecting the USN insignia 1 inch from the front and lower edges of the collar. Figure 11-13 [not included] shows an example of the collar device on short-sleeved khaki and summer white shirts.

You position collar devices differently on long-sleeved shirts. On these shirts wear the collar device parallel to the forward edge of the collar. Center it at a point 1 inch from the forward edge and 1 inch down from the top. Figure 11-13 [not included] shows an example of the positioning of the collar devices on the blue and long-sleeved khaki shirts.

Service Stripes

You wear service stripes, or hash marks, for each 4 years of service. The service stripe for the male CPO is 7 inches long and 3/8 inch wide. The female CPO's service stripe is 5 ¼ inches long and ¼ inch wide. When you wear more than one service stripe, position them ¼ inch apart. The color of the service stripe differs with various uniform requirements and the years of service. CPOs wear scarlet service stripes when they have less than 12 years' total military service or have a break in their good conduct eligibility requirements. Receiving the Navy's Good Conduct Medal, the Reserve Meritorious Service Award, or the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal depends on your conduct, performance, and reliability. Gold hash marks require that you have at least three service stripes. To continue wearing the gold hash marks requires that you continue to meet the eligibility requirements throughout your career. If you fail to maintain the eligibility requirements for the continued wearing of gold, the 12-year eligibility requirement will be reestablished. A courts-martial conviction also terminates your eligibility to wear gold hash marks.

A person who was authorized to wear gold hash marks upon transfer to the Fleet Reserve may retain this right if recalled to active duty. Personnel recalled to active duty from the Fleet Reserve may retain the requirement to wear gold, provided they were authorized to wear gold hash marks upon transfer to Fleet Reserve. In this case, Fleet Reserve time is considered neutral time for determining additional service stripe.


An award is a term used to denote any decoration, medal, badge, ribbon, or attachment given to a person. Personnel wear all awards in a certain precedence or order as part of the uniform. Precedence indicates relative importance of the award. Awards are divided into the following five categories:

Military decorations
Unit awards
Non-military decorations
Campaign and service awards
Foreign decorations and non-U.S. service awards

PRECEDENCE: You may wear all awards according to their order of precedence as shown in chapter 10 of Uniform Regs. Awards and United States decorations received from other services may be worn below all naval awards.

MILITARY DECORATION: A person receives this award for an act of exceptional bravery or heroism or for particularly meritorious service. These awards receive the highest precedence and include the following decorations:

Medal of Honor
Navy Cross
Purple Heart
Navy Commendation Medal
Navy Achievement Medal

UNIT AWARDS: These awards are similar to military decorations. You may receive these awards for a particular time period specified in a citation. They are usually worn by all personnel who were attached to a unit or command during a particular time period specified in the citation. You may wear unit awards below military decorations. They include the following decorations:

Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon
Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Navy "E"

NON-MILITARY DECORATIONS: You receive these decorations for various personal actions. If you are awarded more than one non-military decoration, the dates the awards are accepted will establish their precedence. One exception to this rule is when two or more awards from the same agency are authorized. The rules for precedence established within that agency will then apply. Additionally you may wear a non-military award on your uniform only if you wear it with at least one military award. Non-military decorations rank next in line after unit awards in order of precedence. A partial listing of non-military decorations follows:

Presidential Medal of Freedom
Gold Lifesaving Medal
Silver Lifesaving Medal
Medal of Merit

CAMPAIGN AND SERVICE AWARDS: You may receive these awards for participation in a war, campaign, or expedition, or to denote creditable service requirements. The following are some of the service awards:

Good Conduct Medal
Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal
Expeditionary Medals
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
Armed Forces Reserve Medal
Naval Reserve Medal

FOREIGN DECORATIONS and NON-U.S. SERVICE AWARDS: You are authorized to accept military decorations from foreign governments. You may wear these decorations in the order you receive them below all other U.S. awards, provided these awards are listed in chapter 10 of Uniform Regs. If unlisted, you may request permission to wear the award from the Navy Board of Awards and Decorations or the Navy Uniform Matters Office. The country awarding the decoration determines the precedence of the awards if you have earned two or more. The following examples are authorized decorations awarded by Vietnam:

National Order of Vietnam
Military Merit Medal
Army Distinguished Service Order
Air Force Distinguished Service Order
Navy Distinguished Service Order

Foreign Unit Awards are awards that do not require individual legislative authorization. You wear them below all other foreign personal decorations. The following lists Foreign Unit Awards in order of precedence:

Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation
Korean Presidential Unit Citation
Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation

You wear non-U.S. service awards immediately below all foreign unit awards. Some of them are as follows:

Philippine Defense Ribbon
United Nations Service Medal
United Nations Medal

You wear foreign service awards below non-U.S. service awards. You wear at least one U.S. award when wearing a foreign service award.

Some foreign awards are attached to long ribbons or sashes that you wear around your neck; others are designed as pins that attach to your uniform. You may wear these types of awards on service dress or full dress uniforms while serving in that country. You are not authorized to wear foreign awards after completion of that tour of duty.

MARKSMANSHIP AWARDS: If authorized to wear marksmanship awards, you wear them immediately above the left pocket. You should arrange them according to their seniority, from inboard to outboard, except for the President's Hundred Award, which you wear on the left shoulder. You may wear up to three authorized badges in a row. You may wear only two Excellence in Competition Badges for a specific weapon if you have not earned the Distinguished Badge for the same weapon. You may wear Distinguished Badges or Excellence in Competition Badges received while in another service. When wearing ribbons, place the badges directly below the bottom row of ribbon. If you are wearing large medals, place the badges immediately below the bottom row of medals so that only the medallion of each badge is visible. You should not wear badges with miniature medals. The order of precedence for marksmanship badges is listed below:

U.S. Distinguished International Shooter Badge
Distinguished Marksman Badge
Distinguished Pistol Shot Badge
National Trophy Match Rifleman Excellence in Competition (Gold) Badge

IDENTIFICATION BADGE AND BREAST INSIGNIA: In addition to your awards and decorations, you may have qualified for a specialty insignia or be assigned to a special unit or duty. The specialty insignia is awarded for a warfare specialty or other specialties in which you may have qualified. Identification badges represent the present unit or job to which you are assigned. An identification badge might identify a special command or a function within a command. (For example, if you are assigned to recruiting duty, you would wear a Recruiting Command badge. Another example could be a command career counselor or command chief petty officer badge.) A complete listing of badges and insignias, and the guidelines for wearing them, may be found in chapter 10 of the Uniform Regs. The following special rules apply to the wearing of badges and insignia:

You may not wear a breast insignia or a badge awarded by another armed service or nation unless authorized by the Secretary of the Navy.

You may wear only one warfare specialty insignia. If more than one is earned, you have the option to choose the one you will wear.

You may wear a maximum of two awards, one warfare specialty insignia and one other insignia, such as the Aircrewman, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, or Underwater insignia. (A badge may also be worn in addition to the two insignias.)

Consult chapter 10 of Uniform Regs for the proper wearing and positioning of badges and insignia.

Wearing of Awards

You should wear any decoration, medal, badge, ribbon or attachment awarded to you in the order of precedence and in the manner described in U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations. You should proudly display all awards presented to you.

You should be constantly aware of the appearance of your awards. Are the awards frayed? Do they present an unsightly appearance? It is a good idea to have an extra set of ribbons for inspections and routine replacement. Remember - you're a professional - look the part!

RIBBONS: You wear one, two, or three ribbons in a single row. When authorized more than three ribbons, you wear them in horizontal rows of three each. If not in multiples of three, the uppermost row contains the lesser number. Arrange the center of this row over the center of the one below it. Wear your ribbons without intervals between ribbons or rows of ribbons. Arrange the lower edge of the bottom row centered ¼ inch above the left breast pocket and parallel to the floor. To prevent covering the ribbons by the coat lapel, align them so that their border aligns with the left side of the pocket. The upper rows may also contain two ribbons each. Align these two rows with the left border of the lower rows to prevent covering them by the coat lapels also. Arrange ribbons on the right breast with the lower edge of the bottom row centered ¼ inch above the right breast pocket and parallel o the floor. On uniforms with no right breast pocket, arrange ribbons in the same relative position as if there were a pocket.

You may sew ribbons to uniforms or arrange them on bars to be attached to the uniform. Do not impregnate ribbons with preservatives that change their appearance or enclose them with a transparent cover of any sort.

Arrange ribbons in order of precedence in rows from top down and inboard to outboard within rows. If you possess three or more ribbons, wear the three senior ribbons; you may wear all if desired. If you only wear one row of ribbons, wear the three senior ribbons.

WEARING OF RIBBONS WITH MEDALS: When large medals are prescribed, center ribbons not having medals on the right breast. Place them in the same relative position as the holding bar of the lowest row of medals. If awarded more than one ribbon of this type, wear the senior ribbon.

Ribbons without medals include: Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Navy "E," Combat Action Ribbon, foreign unit awards, and marksmanship ribbons. Arrange these ribbons in order of precedence in rows from top down and inboard to outboard within rows. If you possess three ore more ribbons, wear a minimum of three; you may wear all if desired. If you wear only one row of ribbons, wear the three senior ribbons.

When miniature medals are prescribed, do not wear ribbons for which no medals are provided.

LARGE MEDALS: You may wear large medals on your full dress uniforms. When you wear more than one medal, suspend them from a holding bar of metal or other material of sufficient strength to support their weight. Locate the holding bar of the lowest row of medals in the same position as was previously described for the lowest ribbon bar. The bar is 4 1/8 inches wide; each row of medals is 3 ¼ inches long from the top of the ribbons to the bottom of the medals. The bottom of the medals dress in a horizontal line. When you wear more than one row, no row should contain a lesser number of medals than the row above. Except for the uppermost row, all rows should contain the same number of medals - three medals side by side or up to five medals overlapping.

Arrange medals in order of precedence in rows from top down and inboard to outboard within rows. If you possess five or more medals, wear a minimum of five; you may wear all if desired. If you wear only one row of medals, the row should consist of the five senior medals.

MINIATURE MEDALS: You may wear miniature medals with all formal dress uniforms and dinner dress uniforms. On the male dinner dress jackets, position the holding bar of the lowest row of miniature medals 3 inches below the notch and centered on the lapel.

On the male's blue or white service coats, center the holding bar for the miniature medals immediately above the left breast pocket. On the women's blue or white coats, center the holding bar immediately above the left pocket flap. On the women's dinner dress jacket uniforms, place the holding bar in the same relative position that it would be placed on the male's dinner dress jackets. Each row of miniature medals is 2 1/4 inches long from the top of the ribbons to the bottom of the medals. The bottom of the medals dress in a horizontal line. Position upper rows of medals so that they cover the ribbons of the medals below. Arrange medals in order of precedence in rows from top down and inboard to outboard within rows. If you possess five or more medals, wear a minimum of five medals; you may wear all if desired. If you only wear one row of medals, the row should consist of the five senior medals.


The principal source of guidance regarding uniforms is always the U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations, NAVPERS 15665G. This is the "how to" book of uniforms. Regional coordinators and subregional coordinators provide other uniform guidance; however, their decisions are based on U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations.


Uniform Regs consists of 12 chapters and outlines the required uniforms, the optional uniforms, the items that may be worn on each uniform, and how these items should be worn on various uniforms. Chapter 1, "General Uniform Requirements," introduces you to the basics applicable to all naval uniforms. Chapter 2, "Grooming Standards," devotes the entire chapter to grooming standards. It includes pictures of what the hair should look like on a well-groomed male or female Navy service member. It also explains how to properly clean and maintain uniforms and uniform items, which enables you to present a correct and proper image. Chapters 3 through 8 deal exclusively with basic uniforms. Chapter 3 is titled "Officer, Men"; chapter 4 is "Officer, Women"; chapter 5 is "CPO, Men"; and so on to chapter 8, which is titled "E-1 to E-6, Female." Chapter 9, "Rank and Rate Insignia," explains the correct wearing of, and describes, officer and enlisted insignias. Chapter 10 explains the precedence of wearing awards and lists the different awards and attachments to each award. You will also find a detailed description of the authorized breast insignia and how each insignia should be worn, including a section on name tags. Chapter 11, "Special Uniforms Situations," answers specific questions about when you may wear a particular type of uniform; for example, special ceremonial uniforms, weddings, Reserve personnel. Chapter 12, "Civilian Clothing," gives you guidelines for wearing civilian clothing both on and off duty.


Regional coordinators are usually the commanders of major naval regions, for example COMNAVBASE, Charleston, S.C.; COMNAVBASE, Norfolk, Va.; or CNET, Pensacola, Fla. These regional coordinators issue and control uniform policy within their regions. The regional coordinators usually determine the summer and winter uniform period.


The senior officer present enforces the uniform directives prescribed by the regional coordinator and for uniform policy afloat. This includes uniforms worn by liberty parties and commands operating ashore.


As a worldwide representative of the U.S. Navy, you should present the appearance of a professional sailor. This not only pertains to your personal actions, but how others perceive you while you are in their country. You are the direct representative of the Navy and the United States.

The following information will help you to present a proper appearance to the community, the Navy, and the people of the ports you may visit.


You should keep your hair neat, clean, and well groomed. The hair should be tapered around your ears and neck, from a lower hairline upward to a length of at least 3/4 inch. It should be tapered outward to a length of not greater than 3/4 inch. This taper should blend into the natural cut of the hairstyle. Your hair should not be more than 4 inches long. It should not touch your ears or collar or extend below the eyebrows when your headgear is removed. Your hair should not interfere with the proper wearing of military headgear. The bulk of your hair, which is defined as the distance the hair protrudes above the scalp, should not exceed 2 inches. If you use hair coloring, it should look natural and compliment you. Faddish or outrageous multicolor hair is not authorized for male or female personnel.

The Navy recognizes the unique quality and texture of curled, kinked, waved, and straight hair. In some case the 3/4-inch taper at the back of the neck may be difficult to attain. In these cases your hair should present a graduated appearance; therefore, the taper may combine with a line at the back of the neck. You may wear varying hairstyles, including an Afro, if the styles conform to grooming standards. All hairstyles should conform to standard maximum length and bulk and be tapered at the neck and sides. You may not wear braided or plaited hair either while in uniform or while in a duty status. You should neatly trim and tailor your sideburns to the haircut style. Sideburns should not extend below the earlobe. You should tailor sideburns to an even width, not flared. Mutton chops, ship's captain, or similar grooming styles are not authorized.

Your face should be clean-shaven, however; you may wear a mustache. If you wear a mustache, it should be neatly and closely trimmed. No portion of your mustache may extend below the lip line of the upper lip or go beyond a horizontal line extending across the corners of the mouth. Your mustache may only extend ¼ inch past an imaginary line drawn upward vertically from the corner of the mouth. The length of your mustache should not exceed ½ inch. Handlebar mustaches, goatees, and other such eccentricities are not allowed. For guidelines on hair and mustache standards, refer to figure 11-16 [not included].

You may temporarily wear a beard for health reasons if a shaving waiver is authorized by the commanding officer. Authorizations are based on advice from a medical officer. Treatment is monitored to provide control of the waiver program and prevent its abuse. An authorized beard should not exceed ¼ inch in length. The following personnel are not authorized facial hair, including mustaches:

Brig prisoners

Personnel in a disciplinary status (for example, serving restriction, extra duties, or hard labor without confinement as a result of a court-martial or NJP)

Personnel assigned to a transit personnel unit awaiting separation for a court martial sentence or when in the best interest of the service

Personnel awaiting a recommendation or waiver of an administrative board for misconduct (for example, a pattern of misconduct, failure to pay debts, failure to support dependents, or the commission of serious offenses)

Active-duty personnel may wear hairpieces or wigs for cosmetic reasons. You may wear a wig to cover natural baldness or a physical disfiguration. A hairpiece or wig should be of good quality and fit properly. The hairpiece should present a natural appearance and conform to grooming standards outlined earlier in this section. Wearing a hairpiece or wig should not interfere with the proper performance of duties or present a safety or foreign object damage (FOD) hazard.

You may wear jewelry if it does not present a safety or an FOD hazard. Male service members are authorized to wear one ring on each hand, in addition to a wedding ring. You may wear a watch or bracelet on either wrist. If you wear a necklace or choker while in uniform, it should not be visible. Men may not wear earrings or ankle bracelets. Additionally, you may not wear articles attached to or through the ear or nose.


Your hair should be kept clean, neatly shaped, and arranged in an attractive, feminine, and professional style. When you are in uniform, the hair on the back of your neck may touch your collar but should never fall below the bottom edge of it. Your hair should not show under the front brim of your combination, garrison, or command ball cap. Long hair should be inconspicuously pinned or fastened to your head in an attractive style. The use of conspicuous rubber bands, combs, and pins is not allowed. You may wear your hair in a natural bouffant, or a similar style, including an Afro. You may wear two braids if they are neatly pinned up. You may not wear exaggerated and faddish styles or styles that do not allow the proper wearing of military headgear. If you color your hair, it should appear natural and complimentary. Hair color should never be faddish or an outrageous multicolor. Ensure the ends of pinned up hair do not dangle. If you work in areas such as hospitals and galleys, you may be required to wear visible hair nets. As stated earlier in the grooming standards for men, you may wear hairpieces or wigs provided they are of good quality and fit, present a natural appearance, and conform to all previously stated grooming standards. The use of hairpieces or wigs and hair ornaments to secure your hair should not present a safety or an FOD hazard. Their use also should not interfere with the proper performance of your military duties. Figure 11-17 [not included] shows an example of grooming standards for women.

The cosmetics that you use should blend with your natural skin tone to enhance natural features. You should try to avoid an artificial appearance. You should wear a conservative lipstick color that compliments your naval uniform. False eyelashes are considered inappropriate and should not be worn when you are in uniform. Your fingernails should not exceed ¼ inch in length. Nail polish should compliment your natural skin tone.

You may wear jewelry, including earrings, provided it does not present a safety or an FOD hazard. However, the earrings are 6mm in diameter (approximately ¼-inch), of a plain ball design, with a brushed matte finish. You may wear either screw-on or post-type earrings. When you wear dinner or formal dress uniforms, you may wear small pearl earrings. You may wear only one earring per ear. Nose rings are never allowed. While in uniform, you may wear one watch and one bracelet but you may not wear ankle bracelets. If you wear a necklace, it should not be visible. You may wear one ring per hand in addition to wedding and engagement rings.


To obtain the maximum service from your uniforms, you should maintain and care for them properly. Even new, properly fitted uniforms will not continue to look their best or keep their shape unless you properly care for them. Carrying large or heavy items in your pockets quickly destroys the shape of your uniform. When not wearing your uniform, you should store it on a hanger. Clean and store unused uniforms in plastic, airtight bags. For maximum preservation, place a small packet of desiccant (drying agent) inside the plastic bag with the uniform.

You may find that the plating on your buttons wears off. When this happens the copper base becomes exposed to moist air and a green copper carbonate may develop. This is especially true if the salt content of the air is high. To remove this green carbonate, gently rub the buttons with an acetic acid or a solution containing acetic acid, such as vinegar or worcestershire sauce. Commercial products are also available for this purpose. After rubbing with acetic acid solution, thoroughly wash the buttons with clean water. To keep your embroidered insignia clean and bright, occasionally scrub it with a nail brush and a diluted solution of ammonia. You should do this as soon as tarnish or corrosion appears, as once it has gained a foothold, the device may not be restorable.

Gold bullion lace tarnishes rapidly and may deteriorate when placed in contact with, or hung near, any substance containing sulphur. Some items that may contain sulphur are rubber and ordinary manila or kraft paper. Gold bullion should be cleaned by an experienced tailor. If you clean it yourself, you can use commercial nontoxic preparations and liquid cleaners. For best results when using these commercial preparations or cleaners, follow the manufacturer's instructions on the label.

Clean the gold-filled and sterling silver rhodium finished parts of the metal insignia by washing with soap and water.


In this chapter you learned a brief history of the CPO rate and uniform. U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations is the principal governing publication regarding uniforms and uniform accessories. You should maintain a smart and militarily correct uniform as the Navy's representative to the civilian community. You should strive to become a positive example to the lower rated personnel who work for you. The Navy requires you to follow grooming standards prescribed. You should maintain, and instill in your subordinates, the importance of presenting a neat, clean, military appearance.

The information contained in this chapter is only a guide to the uniform requirements and grooming standards. Specific guidelines are listed in Uniform Regs and the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual.

Source: Shaffer, Larry C. "CPO Uniform Standards" in Military Requirements for Chief Petty Officer. Pensacola, FL: Naval Education and Training Command, 1988.


Slate Grays Authorized for C.P.O.s

Chief petty officers now are authorized to wear the new slate gray working uniform, identical (except for insignia) with that recently approved for wear by commissioned officers and warrant officers.

During the necessary transition period, chief petty officers may follow the same regulations promulgated for commissioned officers and warrant officers regarding wearing of the khaki working uniform. That is, they may wear khaki uniforms now in their possession, or manufactured, until the supply of these uniforms is exhausted, or those in possession are worn out.

Until such time as gray cloth rating badges are available, chief petty officers may wear the blue rating badge on gray uniforms. (Full details appear in R-1327, Navy Department Bulletin[semimonthly], dated 15 August 1943.)

Source: "Slate Grays Authorized for C.P.O.s."All Hands. 318 (September 1943): 72.

Published: Thu Jan 12 06:31:05 EST 2017