United States Maritime Service Insignia of Rank and Distinctive Devices and Uniforms

Uniformity of Uniforms
With the wearing of the uniform, there are certain responsibilities, the principle of which is that the uniform be worn as designed with no additions or subtractions.
In the armed services, the uniform to be worn is rigidly prescribed by order. Mixed and incomplete uniforms constitute a breech of orders and make the wearer subject to disciplinary action.
Since the rules of the Maritime Service closely follow those of the Navy, the same conditions as to the wearing of uniforms prevail.
Heaving Line, USMS Training Station, Sheepshead Bay, NY, November 27, 1943

Wearing the U. S. Maritime Service UniformCover of Officer's Handbook

Members of the U.S. Maritime Service may be identified by the wreaths on cap and sleeve insignia and on shoulder marks.

Cap device-officer and warrant. --- Eagle standing on shield with fouled anchor superimposed. Anchor and shield enclosed in wreath. Officers' miniature device worn on left side of garrison caps. (Rank device on right side.)

Button. --- Gilt Design, U. S. Maritime Service Corps device, worn by all Officers.

Officers' branch-of-service marks. --- Officers licensed by the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation or the Merchant Marine Inspection Service of the Coast Guard wear fouled anchor inside wreath. Devices for other officers are as illustrated, with the common factor that all are enclosed in a wreath. Medical services are supplied the Maritime Service by U. S. Public health Service, but the Maritime Service has a Hospital Corps to assist in the administrative details of medical care.

Shoulder marks and sleeve stripes. --- Shoulder marks illustrated are worn on khaki uniforms, white dress uniforms, and on bridge coats. [Sleeve stripes on uniforms are not shown below.]

Warrant Officers Specialty Devices
Pin-on rank device worn with khaki work uniforms on right collar tip by all officers. (The collar device in a wreath is worn on left collar tip.)

Licensed officers of the U. S. Merchant Marine who qualify for appointments in Maritime Service may wear Maritime Service shoulder marks and sleeve stripes appropriate to their rank and branch of service. Only in one case is there a difference in the device worn above the stripes: an engineer who holds the rank of captain uses a three-bladed propeller instead of the fouled anchor in a wreath.

Khaki and gray shirts only. Collar device to be worn on wearer's LEFT, miniature rank device on RIGHT; center between top and bottom edges and one inch from inside edge of collar.

United States Maritime Service Warrant Officer Insignia

Boatswain insignia Electrician insignia Machinist insignia Carpenter insignia
Boatswain Electrician Machinist Carpenter


Pay Clerk insignia Photographer insignia  Ship's Clerk insignia  Pharmacist insignia
Pay Clerk Photographer Ship's Clerk Pharmacist

United States Maritime Service Branch-of-Service Specialty Marks

Line Specialty Mark Supply Specialty Mark Hospital Specialty Mark Radio Specialty Mark
Line Supply Hospital Radio


Christian Chaplain Specialty Mark Jewish Chaplain Specialty Mark Steward Specialty Mark Engineer Specialty Mark
Christian Chaplain Jewish Chaplain Steward Engineer

United States Maritime Service Enlisted Specialty Marks

Enlisted Specialty Marks
(left to right):
Cook & Baker, Chief Commissary Steward, Electrician's Mate, Gunners Mate, Hospital Apprentice & Pharmacist's Mate, Metalsmith & Shipfitter, Motor Machinist's Mate


Enlisted Specialty Marks
(left to right):
Musician, Photographer's Mate, Printer, Quartermaster, Signalman, Storekeeper, Yeoman

United States Maritime Service Buttons and CPO Hat Devices


Early USMS button USMS button Early Chief Petty Officer Cap device with stars around shield Later Chief Petty Officer  Cap device (USMS around shield)
USMS button (early) USMS button Chief Petty Officer
Cap device
(early- stars)
Chief Petty Officer
Cap device
(United States Maritime Service)

United States Maritime Service Miniature Rank Devices


Commodore Miniature Rank Device Captain Miniature Rank Device Commander Miniature Rank Device Lieutenant Commander Miniature Rank Device  Lieutenant Miniature Rank Device Lieutenant (JG) Miniature Rank Device Ensign Miniature Rank Device 
Commodore Captain Commander  Lieutenant Commander Lieutenant Lieutenant (JG) Ensign 

United States Maritime Service Shoulder Marks (shoulder boards)

USMS Shoulder Marks or Boards
(left to right):
Commodore, Captain, Commander, Lieut. Commander, Lieutenant, Lieutenant (JG), Ensign, Chief Warrant, Warrant Officer

United States Maritime Service Caps

USMS Service Caps
(left to right): Officers cap device [also below], Trainee cap, Captain and Commander, Lower rank

Officer's Cap Device metal
Maritime Service Device embroidered

Sheepshead Bay patch (embroidered)
USMS trainee uniform patch on navy blue (embroidered)
Officer's Cap Device Maritime Service Device (embroidered) Sheepshead Bay patch (embroidered) USMS trainee uniform patch on navy blue (embroidered)

Maritime Service Patrol Armband Officer collar insignia Walt Disney Merchant Marine Emblem United States Naval Reserve insignia
Maritime Service Patrol Armband Officer collar insignia Disney emblem Insignia worn by Cadets and Merchant Marine officers who were Merchant Marine Reserve, United States Naval Reserve

White or gray shirts are worn with blue dress uniforms.
Black shoes and black socks are worn with blue dress uniforms.
Blue or white cap covers (depending on "uniform of day") can be worn with blue dress uniform.
Khaki shirts only with khaki work uniforms.
Black shoes and black socks or brown shoes and brown socks are worn with khaki uniforms.
Khaki cap cover with khaki uniforms.
White shoes and white socks only with white dress uniforms.
Only white cap cover with white dress uniforms.
Black shoes and black socks, slate gray shirt, black tie and slate gray cap cover are worn with slate gray uniform.
Uniform of the day for inactive officers of the U. S. Maritime Service can be obtained usually from the Port Director's office or by telephone call to the Enrolling Office. While aboard ship, this information can be obtained from the Master.
As you know, shipboard dress is usually informal. However, the above rules of dress should be strictly observed ashore.



This pamphlet is issued to officers of the U. S. Maritime Service (active and inactive) in order to acquaint them with the insignia and uniform of the service.

signature of A.B. Randall Commandant
A.B. Randall

The Administration of the U. S. Maritime Service is carried on by Merchant Marine officers who desire most to see the personnel of the U. S. Merchant Marine receive the recognition deserved by their splendid and outstanding performance of duty under hazardous and arduous conditions. The U. S. Maritime Service is proud to offer these officers its benefits. It asks only, in return, that its uniform and insignia be worn with pride and that the conduct and bearing of the Officers wearing it be in accordance with the accepted standard for officers.

Rank shown on your identification card is the maximum that can be worn. Regardless of your position aboard ship, while wearing U. S. Maritime Service insignia, it is unlawful to wear rank other than shown on your current identification card. Attention is also called to the fact that you should not wear the insignia of a higher rank than called for by your position aboard ship, regardless of your official designation.

CUSTOMS and ETIQUETTE of the Service

The U. S. Maritime Service is anxious to publish a book on customs and traditions of the U. S. Merchant Marine. With this in view, the cooperation of the officers and men of the U. S. Merchant Marine is requested. It is suggested that they send into Headquarters, U. S. Maritime Service, Washington 25, D. C., any tradition or custom which they believe should be incorporated in such a book, and at the same time, if information is available, give in a few words the origin of the custom. As you no doubt will realize, any Service or Corps will be successful only if the members exhibit an enthusiastic interest and cooperation. The Service expects and desires these things from each member and suggestions for the improvement of the Service are enthusiastically welcomed. The Service is administered by Merchant Marine officers and the Service is anxious to be of assistance to the personnel of the U. S. Merchant Marine.

The United States Maritime Service as an organization is a comparative newcomer, particularly when compared to the Army and Navy. However, the background of the profession from which the members of the Maritime Service are drawn and for which they are trained is as old, as historic, as full of the traditions of heroism and honest service to the Nation as any service and, on that score, the Merchant Marine which includes the Maritime Service needs apologize to no one.

The Maritime Service, as such, was established in 1938 and administered under the direction of the Maritime Commission. As a new project it was necessary to do a great deal of experimentation and to move slowly and cautiously. Until the onset of the war (and this onset was, for the Merchant Marine, prior to Pearl Harbor) the training was largely concentrated on men already in the industry. The sinking of merchant vessels and the rapid expansion of shipbuilding facilities necessitated a shift of emphasis to provide the new men and officers for the fleet. From its establishment to January 1, 1944, the Maritime Service gave training to 71,087 men.

On July 11, 1942, Executive Order No. 9198 was signed by the President, transferring all Merchant Marine training functions to the War Shipping Administration. The War Shipping Administration accepted responsibility on September 1, 1942, and assistance was provided by the Navy in ordering to key Maritime Service positions a number of Merchant Marine officers on active duty with the Navy.

On January 7, 1943, the Administrator of the War Shipping Administration approved Supplement No. 1 to General Order 23 which provided for the enrollment in the Maritime Service on inactive duty of those officers of the Merchant Marine who desired to wear the uniform of a recognized statutory Government Service. Without much publicity except by word of mouth among the ships, 20,863 officers have been commissioned to January 31, 1944. This number constitutes over 60 percent of the active officers of the United States Merchant Marine with the number rapidly growing.

The Maritime Service exists only because of and for its members. It is hoped that every officer will take upon himself responsibility for the development of that esprit de corps which is the common factor of pride binding all members of any service together. An organization with a high degree of that common spirit cannot fail. Without it, success is doubtful. It must be a part of the duties of each Maritime Service officer to develop within himself that feeling of common pride in his own service and to work toward a development of the Maritime Service. If each officer does so, then the Service, which exists for the benefit of the personnel of the United States Merchant Marine, will steadily and surely rise in value and prestige and in that rise carry with it its membership.

COMMISSION in the U. S. Maritime Service

Present yourself at the nearest Maritime Service Enrolling Office with the following documentary evidence qualifying you for a commission:

(a) License. In the case of members of the Staff Department (Purser and Medical) present certificate of registry as Staff Officer. Steward Department officers present certificate of service issued or endorsed as Chief Steward (F. H.) Radio officers present license issued by F. C. C.
(b) Valid certificates of discharge or continuous discharge book or,
(c) Letter from a recognized official in the company or companies for which you have been working for the past year of licensed service (or all licensed service if less than one year) substantiating your sea service, stating capacities served in and the names of ships.
(d) State Department Seaman's Passport or,
(e) Birth certificate. Presented by stewards and radio operators if certificate or license does not show birth date.

The Enrolling Officer must certify to the dates contained on your license and it is, therefore, necessary that he see it.

You will be given a physical examination conducted by an officer of the U. S. Public Health Service attached to a Maritime Service Enrolling Office or training unit. The physical standards prescribed for the Maritime Service shall be the same as those prescribed for the license held. Defects considered not to be sufficient to disqualify an officer from the performance of the duties of his rank may be waived by the Commandant. Due consideration will be given age and the type of duty to be performed.

The application, with accompanying papers, will be forwarded to Maritime Service Headquarters, acted upon promptly and, if accepted, your appointment will be forwarded to you via the Enrolling Office through which you applied, or through any Enrolling Office you indicate. This procedure is believed to be as simple and as free from "red tape" as possible.
Any questions or inquiries regarding promotions should be brought to the attention of the Enrolling Officer. If you are eligible for promotion to a new rank do not delay in applying for it.

Officers' Handbook: United States Maritime Service War Shipping Administration 1944
The National Geographic Magazine, December 1943
Disney Emblem contributed by Mark Gleeson of Pennsylvania


United States Maritime Service
Disney Merchant Marine emblem



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