Navy Rank Abbreviations

+11 votes

US Navy Rank Abbreviations - complete listing (source: Veterans Administration)

in The Tree House by Russ Gunther G2G6 Mach 8 (83.3k points)
Just successfully used this listing for an abbreviation I could not locate anywhere via google search! CDCN was a new rank/rate I have never seen before!

3 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer
This is very helpful! I will add this to the Military and War Resource Pages. There are a lot of them!!
by Paula J G2G6 Pilot (247k points)
selected by Russ Gunther

I put it under resources on the main project page here:

I understands we are encouraged to use abbreviations in the title data field (Col. rather than Colonel), but I think this would add immense confusion unless it were explained somewhere in the narrative.  The pdf file of Navy title abbreviations would print out to 69 (Sixty-nine) pages!  

Furthermore, modern abbreviations were not used by people in prior periods, and WikiTree policy is to favor the usage of the people in their own time.  So a Revolutionary war colonel was probably indeed abbreviated Col., but when I spent my three years in the army, my abbreviation was CPT, because the army was making all title abbreviations 3 digit.  But I suspect a Revolutionary War Army captain would simply be Capt.
A Navy Captain has almost always been a Capt. or CAPT
Yes.  As an Army captain I had to stay overnight on a Navy base on a trip once and when I called up in the morning and said, "This is Captain Day, I need a ride to the airport," I got VERY prompt service.  Difference between an 0-3 and an 0-6!
I thought we were supposed to spell out the whole word in the prefix and not abbreviate.

The problem obviously is the limited number of letters available in the field  making an abbreviation necessary.  Is the 'adoption' of the list being done in conjunction with the data doctor project

I'm unlikely to have anything much to do with a US naval profile but I can see problems, if not . It  appears to me  that these quite complicated sets of letters and numbers may not 'comply' with the algorithms used for the suggestions list at the moment.

  A profile I worked on yesterday was for,  a woman who was a member of the services during WW2.Lets call her,

''3rd Officer Sarah Louise Cynthia Jones WRNS'' (the abbreviation stands for Women's Royal Naval Service; now obsolete)

The original PM had only managed to spell out 3rd Office in the prefix  field .They may not have noticed that the 'r' was dropped.  A 'corrector' transferred the 3rd from the prefix to suffix field (it seems it isn't allowed there) They then got rid of WRNS .( and  to add to the 'insult' they also moved her 2nd middle name to the nickname field) The  lady was left with the nonsensical name and title of ''Office Sarah Louise (Cynthia) Jones 3rd'' I've  now made her 3rd Off...WRNS and will be interested to see if this causes an error.(debated whether to use 3/O which I have seen used but suspect problem with the backslash)
+4 votes
Thanks for sharing this Russ! :)
by Charlotte Shockey G2G6 Pilot (944k points)
+3 votes
Just make sure you are using the proper terminology for some of the technical rates - I started out as at CTSN (R Branch) - Communications Technician (Collection). At some point in 1970, the branch was incorporated into the rate so we became CTR with our rank attached (CTR1). Then they eventually decided to come clean with what we did and changed CT to Cryptologic Technician with Branch and Rank. i.e. CTR1. this all happened between 1967 and 1975, and I actually held all of those Ratings and Ranks so it looks like I changed jobs several times, but actually worked in the same electronic intelligence area.

There are other ratings that went through this, EW became OS, etc.
by Roy Lamberton G2G6 Mach 4 (44.0k points)

Roy raises a good point--the bottom line is that Navy titles combine both their rating (job field) and their rank. A CTR1 and a BN1 are both Petty Officers First Class.

As an Army vet (i.e., not Navy, so I'm probably biased), I think the rank is more important overall to the public. After all, we're not using this info to figure out the best candidate for a given position on a ship. In the above case, if I were documenting a sailor, I'd put PO1 (Petty Officer First Class) in for their title, to make it more analogous to the other service branches.

The whole Rating/Rate issue was behind the insane attempt by the previous administration to get rid of all "Rating" info and try to get everyone to be a PO3-PO1, CPo, etc.

But we old Sailors (Squids) are proud of our Ratings. They put those in the know into a frame of reference - kinda quickly answers "What did you do in the Navy" question very quickly - at least for those who know the ratings.

so... I will continue to put the Actual Rating information on any Profiile I write - and don't try to make me a SCPO - I am a by God - Senior Chief Cryptologist, something I worked hard to earn.
From one Squid to another a completely agree with the "PC  incorrect" naming system.  In that time frame SCPO &  ETR2 we're the correct rating.  E-5 was a Rate and SCPO was a Rating.

Oh, to make it clear, I would never change a profile back just because I think ranks make more sense as titles. And if I had the rating, I'd include both, like perhaps the rank in the title and the rating as part of the bio. After all, a squid's title (form of address) is the rank. I don't see a PO2 and say, "Good morning, ETR2." I say, "good morning, Petty Officer", especially when I don't know their rating.

I'm not trying to get Navy vets riled up or to disrespect them, so apologies if that happened.

Back in the old Navy (1965-95) Officers were addressed by their Rank, altho Lt. Commanders were usually called Commander.

Enlisted people were almost always called by their last name, (or nickname among their division). In a slightly more formal setting, they were addressed as "Seaman Jones" or "Petty Officer Jones." The Bosuns were almost always called "Boats" Gunners Mates were almost always "Gunner."

Once you put on Khaki, you were Chief, Senior Chief (or Senior) and Master Chief. In the Chief's Mess (called the Goat Locker) Chiefs would use first names or nicknames but in public is would always be Chief, Senior or Master Chief.

Now, if you were talking about a guy in another division, you might refer to him as "that first class ET" but if you knew his name you always referred to him (or her) by name. Within a division, most guys were the same rating.

The only time your actual Rating and Rank came into play was on citations, or in the Plan of the DayDuty Rosters.

But to get to the crux of the discussion, in listing a person's formal Navy Rank/Rate, you would use the correct Rating - CTRCS,CTTC, CTR1, BM2, QM3, BTSN, etc.If they changed Rate during a career, you would list their early service as whatever, make a note that they cross rated to the new rating and use that for the remainder of the bio.

In 2016 a few misguided senior officers (and a roundly criticized Master Chief of the Navy) tried to sell the Navy on using Petty Officer instead of their actual Rating, claiming that the Sailor's MOS was more important. I did 5 different jobs in 4 years, my MOS never changed. If I had been assigned based on my MOS, I would have been sitting side saddle on a low level position after 4 years even though I was a CTR2. Fortunately, the new Navy Brass realized they had rally screwed it up, and changed it back.

In doing a Bio for an old Navy guy, getting the Rating is as important as the Rank because it tells every other Sailor what he did, and in most cases how well he (or she) did it. In the Prefix space, I put the full Rating/Rank for people who actually retired from the Navy, because that is how the Navy would refer to him (or her) in correspondence.

You can see how the Official Navy does it on the CHINFO site: Here's a press release about an award upgrade:
This subject came up at the Legion post the other day - talking with a GMC (Chief Gunner's Mate) and he was one of those retired guy who was outraged at the attempt to take about the Rating part of our rank.

If we put him in Wikitree - he darn better be in there as a GMC and not a CPO!

Now this could confuse the issue even more - back in WW II, Chiefs had their rate/rank listed as Cxx, so a Chief Radioman would be listed as a CRM, the C was moved to the back of the Rating when they created the E-8 and E-9, Senior and Master Chief Petty Officers. At that time they moved the C, CS and CM to after the Rate designator, as in RMC/RMCS/RMCM.

Are we good and fused now? <g>
I respect all who earned their rank and rate, and wish to include as much as possible to recognize their achievement and their role that they served!

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