Petty Officer 3rd Class

Good Conduct Variation


Petty Officer Third Class is the fourth enlisted rank in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, just above Seaman and below Petty Officer Second Class, and is the lowest form of non-commissioned officer, equivalent to a Corporal in the U.S. Army and Marines or the now-obsolete rank of Sergeant (now Senior Airman) in the Air Force.

Unlike the Seaman and lower ranks, advancement to Petty Officer Third Class is not automatic given time in service, but is also contingent on performance evaluations by their superiors and rate examinations (test of speciality knowledge). The advancement cycle is currently every 6 months. Only a certain number of billets (job openings for this rank) open up biannually and all Seamen compete. The top scorers are chosen for advancement, but only in sufficient quantities to fill the billets available.

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 an MOS in other branches). A petty officer's full title is a combination of the two. Thus, a Petty Officer Third Class, who has the rating of Machinist's Mate would properly be called a Machinist's Mate Third Class. The term petty officer is, then, only used in abstract, the general sense, when referring to a group of petty officers of different ratings, or when the petty officer's rating is unknown.

Each rating has an official abbreviation, such as MM for Machinist's Mate, BT for Boiler Technician, or YN for Yeoman. When combined with the petty officer level, this gives the short-hand for the petty officer's rank, such as BM3 for Boatswain's Mate Third 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 refered to by the short hand designation, without using the surname. Thus MM3 Miller would just be called MM3.

The rating insignia for a Petty Officer Third Class is an eagle with spread wings above a cheveron. On more formal uniforms (summer whites and winter working blues or above), the symbol for the petty officer's rating will be placed between the two. On white uniforms, the eagle, rating, and cheveron will be black (this has lead to the eagle being refered to as the "crow" in common practice, and often the entire rating badge is simply refered to as the crow). On navy blue, the crow and rating are white, and the cheveron is red. Working uniforms and metal rank devices have the rating symbol ommitted.