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Navy Officer Ranks

Commissioned officers do not enlist. They serve indefinitely at the pleasure of the President of the United States. They hold a commission charging them with the duties and responsibilities of their specific rank. Officer ranks consist of commissioned officers and warrant officers (specialists and experts in certain military technologies or capabilities). Promotion of officers are confirmed by the Senate.

Navy Officers

Warrant Officer (CWO2, CWO3 CWO4, CWO5)

These positions involve an application of technical and leadership skills versus primarily management functions. Only senior enlisted personnel (paygrades E6 & above) may apply for the Navy’s Warrant Officer program. With a minimum of 13 enlisted service years prior to commissioning, they possess a wealth of technical and leadership experience, allowing them to work closely with, and fully understand, the requirements of enlisted technicians in their charge.

At sea, the Navy relies heavily on them to supervise the maintenance and repair of all types of equipment, from well-worn to state-of-the-art electronic equipment during extended deployments. In addition to providing technical and managerial skills, Warrant Officers perform a vital function in supporting communications at all levels within the chain of command. The ranks range from Chief Warrant Officer (CWO2) to Chief Warrant Officer 5 (CWO5). CWO2 is the most junior Commissioned Officer rank in the U.S Navy. In the Navy, Warrant Officers to Lieutenant Commanders are junior officers.

Navy O1 insignia
Ensign (ENS, O1)
The initial Commissioned Officer rank held by graduates of the United States Naval Academy (USNA), Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), Officer Candidate School (OCS) and other commissioning sources. Generally, most Ensigns are in various schools training for their respective warfare or staff specialties. Others, serving in the Fleet, are Division Officers.

Navy O2 insignia
Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LTJG, O2)

Promotion occurs approximately two years after commissioning as an Ensign. Some officers may still be in schools training for their warfare or staff specialty. Others may be serving in the Fleet as Division Officers.

Navy O3 insignia
Lieutenant (LT, O3)

Usually a Division Officer or service head on some smaller ships, in aircraft squadrons, submarines, and ships, Lieutenants serve as Division Officers. In some commands, senior LT are Department Heads. FOr SEAL Teams, LT, LTJGs and ENS serve as Platoon Leaders.

Navy O4 insignia
Lieutenant Commander (LCDR, O4)

A Department Head or Executive Officer on a ship, aircraft squadron, or submarine. On SEAL Teams LCDR serve as Executive Officers. Some officers serve as a Commanding Officer of a Minesweeper or a Patrol Craft.

Navy O5 insignia
Commander (CDR, O5)

A Senior Officer, a CDR may command a Frigate, Destroyer, Fast Attack Submarine, Smaller Amphibious Ship, Aviation Squadron, SEAL Team, or shore installation.

Navy O6 insignia
Captain (CAPT, O6)

Serves as Commanding Officers of Major Commands such as Aircraft Carriers, Amphibious Assault Ships, Cruisers, Destroyer Squadrons, Carrier Air Wings, Ballistic Missile Submarines, Submarine Squadrons, SEAL Groups and major shore installations.

Navy Admirals

Navy O7 insignia
Rear Admiral Lower Half (RDML,O7)

A one-star rank, it is the first of the Flag Ranks. At sea commands include commanding an Amphibious Group, Carrier-Cruiser Group, Carrier or Expeditionary Strike Group. Flag Officers also may be assigned as deputies to larger commands.

Navy O8 insignia
Rear Admiral Upper Half (RADM, O8)

A two-star rank. At sea commands include commanding an Amphibious Group, Carrier-Cruiser Group, Carrier or Expeditionary Strike Group. Flag Officers also may be assigned as deputies to larger commands.

Navy O9 insignia
Vice Admiral (VADM, O9)

A three-star rank. Commands numbered fleets, holds positions as deputies for regional commands.

Navy O10 insignia
Admiral (ADM, O10)

The most senior Flag Rank. Assignments for Admirals include Commanders of Regional Commands, Joint Commands, Chief of Naval Operations, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Five Star insignia
Fleet Admiral (FADM)

A war-time designation that has not been assigned since World War II when five stars were awarded to William D. Leahy, Ernest King, Chester Nimitz and William Halsey.