Navy Acronyms and Abbreviations: From Rank to Assignments

By , Staff Writer
Naval Officer in Uniform
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    Naval Officer in Uniform
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The United States Navy uses special acronyms to indicate ranks, assignments and other important information in an efficient manner. When they’re in the heat of the moment, Navy personnel need acronyms and abbreviations to share information quickly without sacrificing precision.

Navy Rank Abbreviations

As with all other branches of military, the Navy has inherent ranks and levels. This creates a line of command, ensuring that you know exactly who you’re reporting to, but it also outlines your roles and responsibilities. Here are the U.S. Navy ranks in lowest to highest order:

  • SR - Seaman Recruit
  • SA - Seaman Apprentice
  • SN - Seaman
  • PO3 - Petty Officer Third Class
  • PO2 - Petty Officer Second Class
  • PO1 - Petty Officer First Class
  • CPO - Chief Petty Officer
  • SCPO - Senior Chief Petty Officer
  • MCPO - Master Chief Petty Officer
  • CWO2 - Chief Warrant Officer 2
  • CWO3 - Chief Warrant Officer 3
  • CWO4 - Chief Warrant Officer 4
  • CWO5 - Chief Warrant Officer 5
  • ENS - Ensign
  • LTJG - Lieutenant Junior Grade
  • LT - Lieutenant
  • LCDR - Lieutenant Commander
  • CDR - Commander
  • CAPT - Captain
  • RADM - Rear Admiral
  • VADM - Vice Admiral
  • ADM - Admiral
  • FADM - Fleet Admiral

Abbreviations for Navy Assignments

Along with the above ranks, each person in the Navy has a specific job or assignment on the field (or the open seas).

  • AOW - Auxilliaryman of the Watch
  • ASWO - Antisubmarine Warfare Officers
  • AMDO - Aviation Maintenance Duty Officer
  • BM - Boatswain's Mate
  • CNATRA - Chief of Naval Air Training
  • COMSUBLANT - Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic
  • DAPA - Drug and Alcohol Programs Advisor
  • DCA - Damage Control Assistant
  • DCO - Direct Commission Officer
  • DCAG - Deputy Air Wing Commander
  • HM - Hospital Corpsman
  • LSO - Landing Signal Officer
  • NAVTRA - Chief of Naval Training
  • NFO - Naval Flight Officer
  • OOD - Officer of the Deck
  • OPSO - Operations Officer
  • POOW - Petty Officer of the Watch
  • RIO - Radar Intercept Officer
  • RL - Restricted Line Officer
  • SecDef - Secretary of Defense
  • SECNAV - Secretary of the Navy
  • URL - Unrestricted Line Officer
  • WSO (pronounced “Wizzo”) - Weapon Systems Operator

Navy Units and Facilities Abbreviations

While the Navy is known for protecting the seas, it has numerous facilities and bases on land that house units, train soldiers and provide resources.

  • AUTEC - Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center
  • BUPERS - Bureau of Naval Personnel
  • COMNAVAIR - Commander, Naval Air Forces
  • COMNAVAIRPAC - Commander, Naval Air Forces, Pacific
  • COMNAVSEASYSCOM - Commander, Naval Sea Systems Command
  • COMNAVSECGRU - Commander, Naval Security Group Command
  • COMPACFLT - Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet
  • DEVGRU - Naval Special Warfare Development Group
  • DCC - Damage Control Central
  • FMF - Fleet Marine Force
  • FMSS - Field Medical Service School
  • FRS - Fleet Replacement Squadron
  • MSC - Military Sealift Command
  • NAVSECGRU - Naval Security Group
  • NAVSTA - Naval Station
  • NAWCWD - Naval Air Warfare Center, Weapons Division
  • NBSD - Naval Base San Diego
  • NCDU - Navy Combat Demolition Unit
  • NCIS - Naval Criminal Investigative Service
  • OPNAV - Office of the Chief of Naval Operations
  • PriFly - Primary Flight Control
  • PSNS & IMF - Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility
  • RTC - Recruit Training Command
  • TOPGUN - United States Navy Fighter Weapons School
  • USNA - United States Naval Academy 
  • USPACFLT - United States Pacific Fleet 
  • VFA - Fighter Attack Squadron
  • VRC - Fleet Logistics Support Squadron

Miscellaneous Navy Abbreviations

Even on top of rankings, unit names and assignments, the Navy has other miscellaneous abbreviations to refer to commands, instructions and more.

  • AMCM - Airborne Mine Countermeasures
  • ASUW - Anti-surface Warfare
  • ASW - Anti-submarine Warfare
  • ASW - Auxiliary SeaWater System
  • COMPTUEX - Composite Training Unit Exercise
  • COMSEC - Communications Security
  • DE - Destroyer Escort
  • FOD - Foreign Object Damage
  • GQ - General Quarters (Call to battle stations)
  • HELO - Helicopter
  • JBD - Jet Blast Deflector
  • JTF - Joint Task Force
  • JTFEX - Joint Task Force Exercise
  • LES - Leave and Earnings Statement
  • MSW - Main Seawater System
  • NAVSUP - Naval Supply Systems Command
  • PT - Physical Training
  • RMD - Restricted Maneuvering Doctrine
  • SCBA - Self-contained Breathing Apparatus
  • SCWS - Seabee Combat Warfare Specialist Insignia
  • SLBM - Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile
  • TF - Task Force
  • TG - Task Group
  • TU - Task Unit
  • USN - United States Navy
  • VTU - Volunteer Training Unit
  • WTD - Watertight Door

You Can Sail the Seven Seas

Acronyms and abbreviations allow for smooth, efficient communication when you’re giving or taking orders and protecting the Seven Seas.