U.S. Navy Ratings in World War II

Enlisted uniform patches seen aboard Abbot

A navy rating refered to an enlisted sailor’s job specialty. Most ratings had a unique symbol that appeared on uniform sleeves, although during World War II some ratings shared a common symbol. For example, shipfitters, molders and metalsmiths all wore an icon of crossed hammers.

Ratings badges shown here are taken from a variety of wartime uniforms, including whites, khakis, grays and navy blues. They represent typical ratings that were billeted aboard Abbot and other destroyers during World War II. Most badges exist in each of the uniform styles shown, although gray uniforms were relatively rare. Sometimes the year of manufacture was sewn or stamped on the back of the patch; this was especially common during World War II.

The unusual Officer’s Steward and Cook rating badge (technically known as a distinguishing mark) was worn on the left sleeve. In 1943, the rating was changed to Steward.

Enlisted pay grades, confusingly known as rates, are explained separately.

Navy Ratings, 1943-1946
Baker navy rating patch
Cook, Ship’s Cook, Baker
(Gray uniform)
Mailman navy rating patch
Storekeeper navy rating patch
Firecontrolman navy rating patch
Fire Controlman, Gun Rangefinder
Yeoman navy rating patch
Sonar operator navy rating patch
Motor Machinist's Mate navy rating patch
Motor Machinist’s Mate
Radar operator navy rating patch
Radio operator navy rating patch
Signalman navy rating patch
Quartermaster navy rating patch
Torpedoman navy rating patch
Electrician navy rating patch
Electrician’s Mate
Shipfitter navy rating patch
Shipfitter, Molder, Metalsmith
Commissary Steward navy rating patch
Chief Commissary Steward
Boatswain navy rating patch
Boatswain’s Mate, Coxswain (BM3c)
Gunner navy rating patch
Gunner’s Mate
(Gold chevrons represented 12 years of honorable service)
Boilermaker navy rating patch
Machinist’s Mate, Water Tender, Boilermaker
Pharmacist navy rating patch
Pharmacist’s Mate
Steward navy rating patch
Until 1943: Officer’s Steward and Cook
After 1943: Steward
Ship’s Serviceman navy rating patch
Ship’s Serviceman

Complete Guide to United States Navy Badges and Insignia, by James G. Thompson