The 0-1 Navy

A navy is a specialized force that uses ships to protect its homeland or serve in support of overseas missions. Its vessels are designed to withstand damage and inflict it on enemy ships.

A navy is a seagoing force composed of commissioned and reserve ships and personnel. The ships are combined into squadrons, flotillas, and fleets to form a task force for operational purposes.


The Navy’s officers are ranked, or designated, by their pay grade. Those who demonstrate exceptional performance are given a higher pay grade, which is called a promotion.

Seaman Fleet E-3s are accountable leaders who can take charge of daily tasks. They are responsible for the most complicated and challenging work in their Divisions. They also help junior petty officers and seamans with their duties. They may attend advanced schools to start building supervisory skills.

Officers compete for promotions based on sustained superior performance in a variety of assignments. There are no quotas for specific grades, but the number of officers allowed in each rank is limited. Projected vacancies for each grade are derived from authorized billets minus projected losses (retirements, redesignations and reversions). Officers who are “above zone” have been considered by a selection board but were not selected for the next rank.


The Navy makes a major effort to prevent discrimination in promotions, using formal rules and a complex evaluation process. This process is based primarily on objective criteria, including performance marks and examination scores. However, one element of the process is subjective: an evaluation by a sailor’s superior. This factor has a large impact on promotion and retention rates by race/ethnicity and sex, particularly in higher pay grades.

A sailor’s base pay depends on her pay grade, occupation and seniority. The Navy also pays bonuses for certain jobs and skills. Sailors compare their base pay with what they think they could earn in the civilian labor market, and they consider how much time they have spent in a particular rank to decide whether to stay.


Sailors in the Navy are grouped into 83 ratings. Over time, the Navy has created new ratings and consolidated old ones to reflect changes in technology and the military’s personnel needs. For example, during the Second World War, the Navy consolidated nearly 200 emergency service ratings into 48 general service ratings. In 2016, at Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Steven’s request, Mabus looked into how changing rating titles like Yeoman and Legalman could better reflect our diverse Navy.


The Navy has a number of specialized positions that require both leadership and technical expertise. These positions are called ratings and are marked by a combination of rate (pay grade) and rating badge, worn on the left upper arm of uniforms in pay grades E-4 through E-6. For example, the sonar technician second class from the book and movie The Hunt for Red October is Petty Officer Second Class Ronald “Jonesy” Jones, or ST2 Jones.

Those with technical expertise and significant leadership experience can apply for the Navy’s warrant officer program, which is available for pay grades E-6 and above. Warrant officers typically serve as division or commanding officers aboard ships, aircraft squadrons and submarines, and in land-based roles at naval shore installations and SEAL teams.


The 0-1 rank in the Navy, Marine Corps and Army is equivalent to an ensign in the Air Force and Coast Guard. The ensign rank is an entry-level position in the military, and it is a basic pay grade. Service members advance from the ensign rank to higher ranks based on their expertise and years of service in the military.

E-3 petty officers are accountable leaders with substantial responsibilities in their Divisions. They have learned to lead junior petty officers and seamans and can take charge of tasks without their superiors. They can also attend advanced schools to start supervisory training.

The rank of admiral is the highest in the U.S. Navy, with a five-star symbol, but it is only used in wartime. It is held by graduates of the United States Naval Academy, the Maritime Service Academies and the NROTC or Officer Candidate School.

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