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Marks, Specialty Marks and Distinguishing Marks of the Sea Services


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Marks, Specialty Marks, Apprentice Marks and Distinguishing Marks of the Sea Services

By Daniel D. Smith, Sr.

 

In John A. Stacey’s excellent work United States Navy Rating Badges and Marks 1833 to 2008, he included chapters on “Specialty Marks” and “Distinguishing Marks.”

 

The first mention of “marks” for enlisted personnel was in the Navy Regulations of 1833 which proscribed “marks of distinction” for petty officers. An anchor mark worn on the right sleeve for Boatswain’s mates, gunner’s mates, carpenter’s mates, masters at arms, ship’s stewards and ship’s cooks.

 

Quartermasters, quarter gunners, captains of the forecastle, captains of the tops, armorers, coopers, ship’s corporals and captains of the hold to wear the anchor mark on their left sleeve.

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(Photo-1)

 

The 1841 regulations instituted an eagle over the anchor for the petty officer mark.

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(Photo-2)

 

In 1866 eight marks were introduced to be worn with the petty officer mark. These new marks were to distinguish the job function of the wearer. These were the first “specialty” marks. The original specialties were Master at Arms, Gunner’s mates, Coxswains, Boatswain’s mates, Quartermasters, Carpenter’s mates, Captain of the tops and Sailmaker’s mate. The marks were worn on the right or left sleeve depending on which “watch” section the sailor belonged to, either “Port” or “Starboard” watch section.

 

Distinguishing marks were first introduced in the 1905 USN uniform regulations. While a number of these were in use well before 1905, they were called “marks” before 1905. Distinguishing marks (DMs) were utilized to distinguish personnel who had met specific qualifications in addition to qualifications required for their rating. Distinguishing marks were also issued to personnel who were members of crews attaining merit in approved competitions such as gunnery exercises and engineering readiness. Some specialty marks are also used as distinguishing marks examples of this usage are bugler and signalman. The placement of marks and distinguishing marks changed a number of times between 1866 and 1948.

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(Photo-3, 1918 era)

 

This thread is intended to highlight rare, scarce or popular “marks,” “distinguishing marks,” “apprentice marks,” and “specialty marks” of the Sea Services (USN, USCG and USMC).

 

Two examples of the bugler distinguishing mark. On the left is the USN used from 1912-1948 and on the right is the more scarce USCG version used from 1915-1920.

 

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(Photo-4) (Photo-5)

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Rare, early 1900s engineering branch distinguishing mark (not propulsion engineering, more akin to civil/mechanical engineering branch), precursor to the Construction Battallions (SeaBees) or (CBs).

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Fire Fighter Assistant (1949-1975). White on navy blue, summer uniform used navy blue on white background.

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To date, no uniform regulation or navy directive signifying the official use of these two marks can be found. At least two WWII era sailors have stated they wore the "Security Watch" or "Seaman Watch" mark and the same goes for the "Security Guard" or "Seaman Guard" mark.

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Ex-Apprentice mark (1886-1948) Although the Apprentice program was closed in 1904, there were still at least two official ex-Apprentices on active dury during WWII.

Worn by enlisted personnel through the grade of chief petty officer for those having passed through the apprentice training program.

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Enlisted submariner qualified "dolphins" distinguishing mark in never authorized bullion.

 

A quick snap, lighting makes it look yellow:

 

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A quick snap, lighting makes it look yellow:

 

Nice.

Was this on the sleeve of the jumper or on the very short lived over the pocket configuration?

-dan

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You see the bullion dolphins a lot on cpo uniforms and rarely on po1-po3 uniforms,

 

Jason

 

True, the example posted was from a jumper.

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  • 3 months later...

No other rare or interesting USN distinguishing marks out there?

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Sailmakers Mate(1893-1939) and Underwater Mechanic-unauthorized but possibly worn for about two months(02 April 1948- 09 June 1948) before being replaced with Exclusive Emergency Service Rating ESM [underwater Mechanic] Specialist M

-Fritz

 

 

 

 

 

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Choir member DM with photo of usage. WWII and possibly through the 1950s usage.

Anyone have any knowledge of the "Choir" DM? Boot camp only usage maybe?

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Attached is a look at USN enlisted uniform - Unit Identification Marks (UIMs). Also referred to as shoulder tabs. I posted a longer history in the Uniform section.

 

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Various officer and enlisted submarine qualified marks (bullion not officially authorized)

 

post-769-0-43603900-1383241189.jpg

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  • 2 years later...

Does any one have the contact info for John Stacey's book? Trying to find a copy for a friend. Thanks

 

Steve

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