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U.S. Coast Guard Rank Insignia Identification Guide

This is an identification guide for the Enlisted rank/rating insignia used by the U.S. Coast Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard was formed in 1915 when the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Lifesaving Service were combined. The U.S. Lifesaving Service did not have a formal enlisted rank structure. To the best of our knowledge, all the examples shown are original manufacture. If anyone has questions or suggestions, please contact [email protected].

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Petty Officer Patch 1871-1900

The enlisted insignia for the U.S. Revenus Service was primarily by rate. Initially, Petty Officers were appointed by the local commander. Symbols of rank were also up to the local commander. In 1871, regulations were published identifying three Petty Officer positions, Master At Arms, Coxswain, and Quartermaster. Official insignias of rank were also specificed. The regulations of 1891 expanded the Petty Officer positions to include Boatswain, Gunner, Carpenter, and Oiler. The regulations also differenated between senior Petty Officer rates with gold insignia and junior Petty Officer rates with white insignia. In 1900, regulations were published making the Master At Arms the only senior Petty Officer position and simplifying the rate structure. A U.S. Navy eagle was added above the rate insignia. The 1908 regulations specified U.S. Navy style enlisted insignia with chevrons, although smaller in size, and identified 8 ratings. The insignia identified positions rather than rank.

1871 Master At Arms

1871 Coxswain

1871 Quartermaster

1891 Master At Arms

1891 Boatswain

1891 Gunner

1891 Carpenter

1891 Quartermaster

1891 Coxswain

1891 Oiler

1900 Master At Arms

1900 Quartermaster

1900 Coxswain

1900 Oiler

1900 Bugler

1908 Master At Arms

1908 Assistant Master At Arms

1908 Wheelman Quartermaster

1908 Quartermaster

1908 Electrician

1908 Electrician First Class

1908 Ships Writer

1908 Signal Quartermaster

1908 First Oiler

1908 Second Oiler

1908 Coxswain

1908 Watertender

Petty Officer Insignia 1915-1920

In 1915, The U.S. Coast Guard was formed by combining the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service and the U.S. Lifesaving Service. Regulations were published for a system of enlisted chevrons using the rate symbol. Initially 14 rates were adopted.

Master At Arms

Assistant Master At Arms

Wheelman Quartermaster


Number 1 Surfman


Assistant Electrician

1st Class Electrician

Assistant 1st Class Electrician

Yeoman/Ships Writer

Assistant Yeoman/Ships Writer





Signal Quartermaster






Petty Officer Insignia 1920-1941

In the 1920 regulations, the number of rates were reduced to 11, and the U.S. Navy rank structure was adopted. The ranks of Chief Petty Officer, 1st Class Petty Officer, 2nd Class Petty Officer, and 3rd Class Petty Officer were used within all rates. The enlisted chevrons were to be the same size as the Navy insignia but used a distinctive eagle.

Chief Petty Officer - Master At Arms

1st Class Petty Officer - Carpenter

2nd Class Petty Officer - Coxswain

3rd Class Petty Officer - Boatswain

2nd Class Petty Officer - Quartermaster

1st Class Petty Officer - Ships Writer

2nd Class Petty Officer - Wireless Operator

1st Class Petty Officer - Engineer Assistant

2nd Class Petty Officer - Electrician

2nd Class Petty Officer - Pharmacist

1st Class Petty Officer - Cook

Petty Officer Insignia 1941-1976

In the 1941 regulations, the Coast Guard adopted the U.S. Navy size rank insignia and eagle. The rating system was expanded to cover additional specialities. Diagonal stripes for Seaman, Seaman Apprentice, and Seaman Recruit were added in 1948. Senior Chief and Master Chief Petty Officer grades were added in 1958. To align with positions created by the Army, Navy, and Marines, the position of Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard was created in 1968. The positions of Command Senior Chief and Command Master Chief Petty Officer were adopted in 2015. They serve as the principal enlisted advisor to the Commanding Officer.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (est. 1968)

Master Chief Petty Officer (est. 1958)

Senior Chief Petty Officer (est. 1958)

Chief Petty Officer (Gold good conduct chevrons)

Chief Petty Officer

1st Class Petty Officer

2nd Class Petty Officer

3rd Class Petty Officer




Seaman Apprentice

Fireman Apprentice

Airman Apprentice

Seaman Recuit

Petty Officer Insignia 1976 to date

The 1976 regulations reorganized the rate structure. The insignia background color was changed from black/navy blue to medium blue. The positions of Command Senior Chief and Command Master Chief Petty Officer were adopted in 2015. They serve as the principal enlisted advisor to the Commanding Officer.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard

Master Chief Petty Officer

Command Master Chief Petty Officer

Master Chief Petty Officer

Senior Chief Petty Officer

Chief Petty Officer

Petty Officer 1st Class

Petty Officer 1st Class (Summer)

Petty Officer 2nd Class

Petty Officer 3rd Class


Seaman with Rating



Seaman Apprentice

Airman Apprentice

Fireman Apprentice

Seaman Recruit

Rating Symbols - 1917 to date

Rating Symbols identify the trade/specialty of the enlisted man. There are 68 symbols in 5 categories that have been used since 1917. The titles associated with the symbols have changed over time. The dates and titles of each symbol are listed in the description.

Aviation Ratings

Aviation Electricians Mate - 1956-1999

Avionics Electrical Technician - 2004-present
Avionics Technician - 1999-2003
Aviation Electronics Technician - 1948-1998

Aviation Electronicsman - 1948-1965
Aviation Radioman - 1943-1948

Aviation Maintenance Technician - 1999-present
Aviation Machinists Mate - 1921-1999

Aviation Metalsmith - 1940-1999

Aviation Carpenter's Mate - 1921-1940

Aviation Survival Technician - 1999-2004
Aviation Survivalman - 1968-1999

Parachute Rigger - 1942-1968

Aviation Ordnanceman - 1943-1968

Enlisted Aircraft Pilot - 1930-1979

Enlisted Airplane Pilot - 1930-1948

Aviation Rigger - 1922-1924

Deck Ratings

Boatswains Mate - 1920-present

Quartermaster - 1920-2003

Signalman - 1920-1948

Operations Specialist - 2003-present

Radarman - 1942-1948

Telecommunications Specialist - 1994-2003
Radarman - 1942-1994

Sonar Technician - 1970-1993
Radioman - 1921-1970

Gunners Mate - 1920-present

Fire Control Technician - 1955-2003
Fire Controlman - 1942-1955

Torpedomans Mate - 1943-1945

Engineer Ratings

Machinery Technician - 1974-present
Engineman - 1947-1974

Machinists Mate - 1920-1974

Motor Machinists Mate - 1920-1948

Boilerman - 1920-1974

Watertender - 1920-1948

Electricians Mate - 1921-present

Information System Technician - 2003-present
Telephone Technician - 1960-2003

Electronics Technician - 1948-2004
Electronics Technician Mate - 1945-1948
Radio Technician - 1942-1945

Damage Controlman - 1948-present

Carpenters Mate - 1920-1948

Shipfitter/Blacksmith/Boilermaker - 1920-1942

Administrative Ratings

Yeoman - 1920-present

Storekeeper - 1920-present

Ships Serviceman - 1942-1946

Health Services Technician - 1983-present
Hospital Corpsman - 1948-1983

Dental Technician - 1949-1983

Pharmacists Mate - 1920-1948

Public Affairs Specialist - 1972-present

Journalist - 1948-1972

Photographers Mate - 1939-1972

Printer - 1944-1970

Bandmaster - 1924-present

Diver - 2015-present

Food Service Specialist - 1996-present
Subsistance Specialist - 1973-1996

Commissaryman - 1948-1973
Commissary Steward - 1920-1948

Steward - 1948-1964
Ships Cook - 1920-1948

Steward - 1964-1973

Marine Science Technician - 1968-present

Aerographers Mate - 1942-1968

Intelligence Specialist - 2008-present

Maritime Enforcement Specialist - 2010-present

Reserve Ratings

Data Processing Technician - 1971-1999

Port Security Patrolman - 1943-1982

Port Securityman - 1982-1999

Port Security Specialist - 1999-2010

Port Security Specialist - 1999-2010

Costal Forceman - 1963-1967

Investigator - 1982-present

Firefighter - 1954-1982

Fire and Safety Specialist - 1982-1993

Classification Interviewer - 1943-1947

Dog and Horse Handler - 1943-1951

Tanker Loading Inspector - 1957-?

Chemical Warfareman - 1943-?

Public Relations - 1943-1948

Transportationman - 1943-?

U.S. Shipping Board

The United States Shipping Board (USSB) was established as an emergency agency by the 1916 Shipping Act. The United States Shipping Board task was to increase the number of US ships supporting the World War I efforts. United States Shipping Board program ended on March 2, 1934. Provisions were included to provide a standardized training program for officers. The act was amended in 1917 to include training and qualifications for Petty Officers. Three categories were established, Deck Crew, Engin Room, and Cooks/Stewards. Four levels of qualification were defined. Examples are shown below.

Chief Petty Officer

1st Class Petty Officer

2nd Class Petty Officer

3rd Class Petty Officer

U.S. Merchant Marine Service

The Merchant Marine Act of 1936 was enacted to further the development and maintenance of an adequate and well-balanced American merchant marine, to promote the commerce of the United States, and to aid in the national defense. Specifically, the Act established the United States Maritime Commission and required a United States Merchant Marine that consisted of U.S.-built, U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed, and U.S.-owned vessels capable of carrying all domestic and a substantial portion of foreign water-borne commerce which could serve as a naval auxiliary in time of war or national emergency. Provisions were included to provide a standardized training program for officers and enlisted. Enlisted chevrons and ratings are shown below.

Chief Petty Officer (1936-1940)

1st Class Petty Officer (1936-1940)

2nd Class Petty Officer (1936-1940)

3rd Class Petty Officer (1936-1940)

Chief Petty Officer (1940 to date)

1st Class Petty Officer (1940 to date)

2nd Class Petty Officer (1940 to date)

3rd Class Petty Officer (1940 to date)

1st Class Petty Officer - Summer White Uniform

2nd Class Petty Officer - Tan Working Uniform

Merchant Marine Ratings

Bosons Mate

Carpenters Mate


Commissary Steward

Electricians Mate

Gunners Mate

Hospital Assistant


Machinists Mate

Motor Machinists Mate


Photographers Mate