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Petty Officer First Class

Petty Officer First Class

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Good conduct
U.S. Navy Good Conduct Variation
In the United States Navy, enlisted members in pay grades E-4 to E-9 are authorized to wear gold rate insignia instead of red if the individual meets the requirements for good conduct service.-Gold Rating Badge and Service Stripes:...


12 years or more

of good conduct

Petty officer
first class
U.S. Navy &
U.S. Coast Guard

Petty officer, first class is the sixth enlisted rank in the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and U.S. Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

, just above petty officer, second class and below chief petty officer
Chief Petty Officer
A chief petty officer is a senior non-commissioned officer in many navies and coast guards.-Canada:"Chief Petty Officer" refers to two ranks in the Canadian Navy...

, and is a non-commissioned officer
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...


Each rating has an official abbreviation, such as ET for electronics technician, STS for sonar technician submarines, or FT for fire control technician. When combined with the petty-officer level, this gives the short-hand for the petty officer's rank, such as ET1 for electronics technician, first class. It is common practice to refer to the petty officer by this short hand in all but the most formal correspondence (such as printing and inscription on awards). Often, the petty officer is just referred to by the short-hand designation, without using the surname. Thus ET1 Jones would just be called "ET1". A first-class petty officer may be generically referred to as PO1 when the sailor's rating is not known, although some prefer to be called simply "Petty Officer".

Similar to petty officer, second class and third class, advancement to petty officer, first class is contingent upon the following conditions:
  • Completed a period of time-in-rate (three years time-in-rate as a second-class petty officer, or two years if the second-class petty officer received a promotion recommendation of "early promote" (EP) on their latest periodic performance evaluation and the second-class petty officer's commanding officer authorizes a one year time-in-rate waiver).
  • Recommended for advancement by the commanding officer.
  • Have an established performance mark average.
  • No pending request for voluntary transfer to the fleet reserve.

The advancement cycle is currently every 6 months (March and September). Only second-class petty officers that achieve a passing score on the biannual advancement examination are eligible to be advanced to first-class petty officer. Once the examination is complete, a quota is established based upon the needs of the Navy with respect to the specific rating the sailor holds. Using the rating ET (electronics technician
Electronics technician
Electronics Technicians help design, develop, test, manufacture, and install electrical and electronic equipment such as communication equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and computers. They may be employed in product evaluation and testing, using measuring and...

) as an example:
  • 1,000 ET2 (electronics technician, second class) eligible to be advanced after passing the advancement examination
  • 100 are allowed to be advanced to ET1 (electronics technician, first class) by the Navy (a 10% quota)
  • The 100th eligible ET2 received a 219.5 final multiple score
    Final Multiple Score
    Final Multiple Score, or FMS, is a calculation used by the United States Navy to determine whether or not enlisted sailors of the paygrades E-3, E-4, E-5, or E-6 are eligible to advance to the next paygrade...

    ,, therefore 219.5 is the lowest possible final multiple allowed to advance to ET1.

The Navy's high year tenure policy imposes a maximum enlistment of 20 years to a petty officer, first class. If a petty officer, first class fails to make chief petty officer within those 20 years, the petty officer is honorably retired from the United States Navy.

The rate insignia
United States Navy enlisted rate insignia
A United States Navy enlisted rate indicates where an enlisted sailor stands within the chain of command, and also defines one's pay grade. An enlisted sailor's rate is similar conceptually to a naval officer's rank. The word rate refers to an enlisted sailor's pay grade, while the word rating...

 for a petty officer, first class is a perched eagle above three chevrons. On more formal uniforms (dress white and dress blue uniform), the symbol for the petty officer's rating will be placed between the eagle and the chevrons. On white uniforms, the eagle, rating, and chevrons are dark blue (almost black- this has led to the eagle being referred to as the "crow" in common practice, and often the entire rating badge is simply referred to as the crow). On navy blue (black) uniforms, the eagle and rating are white, and the chevrons are red, unless the sailor has served in the Navy for 12 years or more with good conduct- then that sailor wears gold chevrons on the dress blue uniform. Gold chevrons are also worn on the collars of the Navy blue coveralls uniform, and on the black garrison cap (only) worn with the Navy service working uniform (often called "peanut butters"). The Coast Guard does not use golden chevrons. Working uniforms (all variations of the camouflage uniform) and metal rank devices do not have the rating badge symbol.

First-class petty officers normally serve as a leading petty officer (LPO) of a division, and direct the activities of a division. LPO experience for a first-class petty officer is not officially required for advancement to chief petty officer; however, it is generally accepted that at least one documented tour as an LPO (preferably at sea) is a vital step for advancement.

First-class petty officers often form associations at their commands. Membership in these associations are voluntary.

Petty officers serve a dual role as both technical experts and as leaders. Unlike the sailors below them, there is no such thing as an "undesignated petty officer." Every petty officer has both a rate (rank) and rating (job, similar to a Military Occupation Specialty (MOS) in other services. A petty officer's full title is a combination of the two. Thus, a petty officer, first class, who has the rating of electronics technician would properly be called an electronics technician petty officer, first class, or ET1. The term "petty officer" is only used in the general sense when referring to a group of petty officers of different ratings, when the petty officer's rating is unknown, or when someone who is E-3 or below addresses a petty officer while in basic training or "A" school.

See also

  • Petty Officer
    Petty Officer
    A petty officer is a non-commissioned officer in many navies and is given the NATO rank denotion OR-6. They are equal in rank to sergeant, British Army and Royal Air Force. A Petty Officer is superior in rank to Leading Rate and subordinate to Chief Petty Officer, in the case of the British Armed...

  • U.S. Navy enlisted rate insignia
  • Comparative military ranks
    Comparative military ranks
    This article is a list of various states' armed forces ranking designations. Comparisons are made between the different systems used by nations to categorize the hierarchy of an armed force compared to another. Several of these lists mention NATO reference codes. These are the NATO rank reference...