Ensign (rank)

Last updated

Ensign ( /ˈɛnsən/ ; [1] Late Middle English, from Old French enseigne (transl.mark, symbol, signal; flag, standard, pennant), from Latin insignia (plural)) is a junior rank of a commissioned officer in the armed forces of some countries, normally in the infantry or navy. As the junior officer in an infantry regiment was traditionally the carrier of the ensign flag, the rank acquired the name. This rank has generally been replaced in army ranks by second lieutenant. [2] Ensigns were generally the lowest-ranking commissioned officer, except where the rank of subaltern existed. [3] In contrast, the Arab rank of ensign, لواء, liwa' , derives from the command of units with an ensign, not the carrier of such a unit's ensign, and is today the equivalent of a major general.

Contents

In Thomas Venn's 1672 Military and Maritime Discipline in Three Books, the duties of ensigns are to include not only carrying the color but assisting the captain and lieutenant of a company and in their absence, have their authority. [4]

"Ensign" is enseigne in French, and chorąży in Polish, each of which derives from a term for a flag. The Spanish alférez and Portuguese alferes is a junior officer rank below lieutenant associated with carrying the flag, and so is often translated as "ensign". Unlike the rank in other languages, its etymology has nothing to do with flags, but instead comes from the Arabic for "cavalier" or "knight". Fähnrich in German comes from an older German military title, Fahnenträger (flag bearer); however, it is an officer cadet rank, not a junior officer – the same applies to the Dutch vaandrig , which has a parallel etymology. In the German Landsknecht armies (c. 1480), the equivalent rank of cornet existed for those men who carried the troop standard (known as a "cornet"). It is still used in the artillery and cavalry units of the Netherlands (kornet).

Estonia

In Estonian Defence Forces the equivalent of “ensign” is lipnik. It is used mainly as a rank for reserve officers.

French speaking countries

During the Ancien Régime in France, as in other countries, the ensign (enseigne) was the banner of an infantry regiment. [5] As in other countries, the name began to be used for the officers who carried the ensign. It was renamed sub-lieutenant (sous-lieutenant) at the end of the 18th century. The Navy used a rank of ship-of-the-line ensign (enseigne de vaisseau), which was the first officer rank. It was briefly renamed ship-of-the-line sub-lieutenant (sous-lieutenant de vaisseau) in the end of the 18th century, but its original name was soon restored.

Within many French speaking countries, the rank is still used in the naval forces. The ranks are usually split into a first and second class (Enseigne de vaisseau de 1re classe and Enseigne de vaisseau de 2e classe respectively).

New Zealand

The Royal New Zealand Navy, unlike the Royal Navy – whose uniforms, insignia, and traditions it inherited – created the ensign grade to equal the lowest commissioned RNZAF grade of pilot officer and the New Zealand Army grade of second lieutenant. It ranks above the grade of midshipman. Like the grade of pilot officer, it uses a single thin strip of braid.

The fact that the Royal Navy has no real equivalent to the lowest commissioned Royal Air Force and British Army grades was one of the driving factors behind the RNZN's decision to create the ensign grade. Another was that, at the time, New Zealand was actively involved with the United States Armed Forces, so it made sense to balance the rank system out with that used by the United States Navy.

United Kingdom

Until 1871, when it was replaced by second lieutenant, ensign was the lowest rank of commissioned officer in infantry regiments of the British Army (except fusilier and rifle regiments, and the Marines, which always used second lieutenant). It was the duty of officers of this rank to carry the colours of the regiment. In the 16th century, "ensign" was corrupted into "ancient", and was used in the two senses of a banner and the bearer of the banner. Today, the term "ensign" is still used by the Foot Guards regiments, for instance during the ceremony of trooping the colour. The equivalent cavalry rank was cornet, also being derived from the name of a banner.

United States

Ensign
US Navy O1 insignia.svg USCG O-1 insignia.svg
Navy and Coast Guard insignia
US PHS O1 insignia.svg US NOAA O1 insignia.svg
PHS and NOAA insignia
CountryFlag of the United States.svg  United States
Service branch
AbbreviationENS
Rank group Junior officer
NATO rank code OF-1
Pay gradeO-1
Formation1789 (Army)
1862 (Navy)
Abolished1815 (Army)
Next higher rank Lieutenant (junior grade)
Next lower rank Master chief petty officer
Equivalent ranks Second lieutenant

Army

The rank of ensign was established in the U.S. Army by the act of September 29; 1789, (the first act of legislation after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution); each of the eight companies in the Regiment of Infantry was authorized one captain, one lieutenant and one ensign. [6] :560 With the passage of the act of April 30, 1790, the number of companies in the regiment of infantry was increased to 12 and each of the companies was authorized the same number of officers. [6] :560 The act of March 3, 1791 added a second regiment to the Army strength, doubling the total number of ensigns. [6] :561

With the organization of the Legion of the United States authorized by the act of March 5, 1792, ensigns were retained in the companies of infantry and were included in the authorized strength of companies of rifles; in addition, cornets were added to the companies of dragoons. [6] :562

The ranks of ensign and cornet were abolished in the United States Army in the Army Organization Act of 1815. [7]

In the United States Navy, the rank of ensign superseded passed midshipman in 1862. Ensign is the junior commissioned officer rank in the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps. This rank is also used in the U.S. Maritime Service and the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. Ensign ranks below lieutenant junior grade, and it is equivalent to a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, the Marine Corps, and the Air Force.

Where a newly commissioned ensign is assigned in the Navy is dependent on status as either an unrestricted line, restricted line, or staff corps officer. For unrestricted line officers, depending on assignment to which warfare community, prospective Surface Warfare Officers (SWO) will spend 22 weeks at Surface Warfare Officer School followed by assignment to a warship for qualification as a SWO. [8] Prospective Submarine Warfare Officers will attend Naval Nuclear Power School for 26 weeks, followed by Nuclear Power Training Unit (Prototype) for 24 weeks and Submarine Officer Basic Course for 12 weeks before reporting to their first submarine. [9] Prospective Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers have a 12 to 18 month flight training track to earn their wings, followed by a six to nine-month training track in a Fleet Replacement Squadron before being assigned to fly combat aircraft in a deployable Fleet aviation squadron. [10] Sea-Air-Land (SEAL) Special Warfare Officers attend a 6-month Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) course followed by a 4-month SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) course before assignment to a SEAL Team. [11] Finally, Special Operations Officers, primarily Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) / Diver officers will have a training track similar in length to that of SEAL officers, to include schools for EOD, SCUBA, hard hat diving, airborne (parachutists) and combat arms skills training before assignment to their first operational assignment.

Restricted Line officers, depending on designator, may train, qualify and be assigned as naval intelligence officers, naval cryptographic officers, aircraft maintenance duty officers, meteorologists/oceanographers, information professionals, human resources professionals, public affairs officers, or a host of other specialties.

Still others may become staff corps officers in the Supply Corps, Civil Engineering Corps, Nurse Corps, Medical Service Corps, or be law school students or medical or dental school students in the Judge Advocate General's Corps, Medical Corps or Dental Corps, respectively.

Coast Guard

While the Coast Guard does not categorize its officers as unrestricted line, restricted line or staff corps, a similar career sorting and training process also takes place, ranging from those in operational fields such as cuttermen aboard Coast Guard cutters, Naval Aviators in Coast Guard Aviation, specialists in maritime safety and inspections, and a host of other Coast Guard officer career fields.

All ensigns will become branch officers or division officers in their first operational assignments, responsible for leading a group of petty officers and enlisted men in one of the ship's, squadrons, team's or other organization's branches and divisions (for example, engineering, navigation, communications, sensors or weapons aboard a warship, or similar functions in the operations, aircraft maintenance, administrative or safety/NATOPS departments in a flying squadron) while at the same time receiving on-the-job training in leadership, naval systems, programs, and policies from higher-ranking officers and from senior enlisted men and women in the Chief Petty Officer rates.

Navy and Coast Guard ensigns wear collar insignia of a single gold bar and because of this share the nickname "butterbars" with Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps second lieutenants, who wear the same insignia.

Within the U.S. Public Health Service, those wearing the rank of ensign are part of a commissioned officer student training, and extern program (COSTEP), either junior, for those with more than a year remaining of education in a commissionable degree (JRCOSTEP), or senior, for those within one year of graduating with a commissionable degree (SRCOSTEP). [12] Some officers may hold a permanent rank of ensign based on their experience and education, but then can hold the temporary rank of lieutenant, junior grade.

French speaking countries

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Military rank</span> Element of hierarchy in armed forces

Military ranks are a system of hierarchical relationships, within armed forces, police, intelligence agencies or other institutions organized along military lines. The military rank system defines dominance, authority, and responsibility in a military hierarchy. It incorporates the principles of exercising power and authority into the military chain of command—the succession of commanders superior to subordinates through which command is exercised. The military chain of command constructs an important component for organized collective action.

A lieutenant is a commissioned officer rank in the armed forces of many nations.

Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces, comparable to NATO OF-1 rank.

First lieutenant is a commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces; in some forces, it is an appointment.

Lieutenant , commonly abbreviated as LTJG or, historically, Lt. (j.g.), is a junior commissioned officer rank of the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps. LTJG has a US military pay grade of O-2, and a NATO rank code of OF-1. The rank is also used in the United States Maritime Service. The NOAA Corps's predecessors, the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey Corps (1917–1965) and the Environmental Science Services Administration Corps or ESSA Corps (1965–1970), also used the rank.

In the United States Navy, officers have various ranks. Equivalency between services is by pay grade. United States Navy commissioned officer ranks have two distinct sets of rank insignia: On dress uniform a series of stripes similar to Commonwealth naval ranks are worn; on service khaki, working uniforms, and special uniform situations, the rank insignia are identical to the equivalent rank in the US Marine Corps.

Listed in the table below are the insignia—emblems of authority—of the British Army. Badges for field officers were first introduced in 1810 and the insignia was moved to the epaulettes in 1880. On ceremonial or parade uniforms these ranks continue to be worn on the epaulettes, either as cloth slides or as metal clips, although on the modern 'working dress' they are usually worn as a cloth slide on the chest. Although these insignia apply across the British Army there is variation in the precise design and colours used and it can take some time to become familiar with them all.

Sub-lieutenant is a junior military officer rank.

A field officer, field-grade officer, or senior officer is an Army, Marine, or Air Force commissioned officer senior in rank to a company officer but junior to a general officer. In most armies this corresponds to the ranks of major, lieutenant colonel and colonel, or their equivalents. Some countries also include brigadier in the definition.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ranks in the French Navy</span>

The rank insignia of the French Navy are worn on shoulder straps of shirts and white jackets, and on sleeves for navy jackets and mantels. Until 2005, only commissioned officers had an anchor on their insignia, but enlisted personnel are now receiving them as well. Although the names of the ranks for superior officers contain the word "Capitaine", the appropriate style to address them is "Commandant", "Capitaine" referring to "lieutenant de vaisseau", which is translated as lieutenant. The two highest ranks, Vice-amiral d'escadre and Amiral (Admiral), are functions, rather than ranks. They are assumed by officers ranking Vice-Amiral (Vice-Admiral).

Finnish military ranks form a system that incorporates features from Swedish, German, and Russian armed forces. In addition, the system has some typically Finnish characteristics that are mostly due to the personnel structure of the Finnish Defence Forces. The ranks have official names in Finnish and Swedish languages and official English translations. The Swedish forms are used in all Swedish-languages communications in Finland, e.g. in Swedish-speaking units of Finnish Defence Force. The system of ranks in the Swedish Armed Forces is slightly different.

A subaltern is a primarily British military term for a junior officer. Literally meaning "subordinate", subaltern is used to describe commissioned officers below the rank of captain and generally comprises the various grades of lieutenant.

Aspirant is a rank in the Royal Canadian Navy, Estonian Defence Forces, French military, Brazilian military, Portuguese military, Swiss military, Italian Air Force, Argentinian Armed Forces, Romanian Navy, Polish Policja and Państwowa Straż Pożarna.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Officer Candidate School (United States Navy)</span> US Navy officer commissioning program based at Newport, RI

The United States Navy's Officer Candidate School provides initial training for officers of the line and select operational staff corps communities in the United States Navy. Along with United States Naval Academy (USNA) and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), OCS is one of three principal sources of new commissioned naval officers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Warrant officer (United States)</span> Ranks in the U.S. Armed Forces

In the United States Armed Forces, the ranks of warrant officer are rated as officers above all non-commissioned officers, candidates, cadets, and midshipmen, but subordinate to the lowest officer grade of O‑1. This application differs from the Commonwealth of Nations and other militaries, where warrant officers are the most senior of the other ranks, equivalent to the U.S. Armed Forces grades of E‑8 and E‑9.

In the United States uniformed services, captain is a commissioned-officer rank. In keeping with the traditions of the militaries of most nations, the rank varies between the services, being a senior rank in the naval services and a junior rank in the ground and air forces. Many fire departments and police departments in the United States also use the rank of captain as an officer in a specific unit.

Lieutenant is a commissioned officer rank in many nations' navies and coast guards. It is typically the most senior of junior officer ranks. In most navies, the rank's insignia may consist of two medium gold braid stripes, the uppermost stripe featuring an executive curl in many Commonwealth of Nations; or three stripes of equal or unequal width.

In the United States Army (USA), U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), U.S. Air Force (USAF), and U.S. Space Force (USSF), captain is a company-grade officer rank, with the pay grade of O-3. It ranks above first lieutenant and below major. It is equivalent to the rank of lieutenant in the Navy/Coast Guard officer rank system and should not be confused with the Navy/Coast Guard rank of Captain. The insignia for the rank consists of two silver bars, with slight stylized differences between the Army/Air Force version and the Marine Corps version.

Major in France, is a senior superior military rank across various military and security institutions with history dating back well beyond the 18th century.

References

  1. "ensign". Merriam-Webster Dictionary . Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  2. "Subaltern". Ranks. Southern Gunners. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  3. Troy, Michael. "Rank of Ensign in Revolutionary Army". All Experts: U.S. History. About.com. Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  4. Venn, Thomas; Tacquet, Andrew & (tr) Lacey, John (translator) Military and Maritime Discipline in Three Books R. Pawlet, 1672
  5. The cavalry regiments used the term cornette (cornet) and the dragoon regiments used guidon.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Heitman, Francis B. (1903). Historical register and dictionary of the United States Army : from its organization, September 29, 1789, to March 2, 1903. Vol. 2 (1 ed.). p. 1. Retrieved 9 October 2021. This is the unofficial work of a private compiler, purchased and published by direction of Congress
  7. p. 970 Tucker, Spencer C. The Encyclopedia Of the War Of 1812 ABC-CLIO, 25/04/2012
  8. "New Navy Career Path for Surface Warfare Officers Stresses Fundamentals -". 28 June 2018.
  9. "Become a Navy Nuclear Submarine Officer – Navy.com". www.navy.com.
  10. "Navy Pilot & Flight Officer (NFO) Careers – Navy.com". www.navy.com.
  11. "How to Become a SEAL Officer". Navy SEALs.
  12. "Student Opportunities". Archived from the original on 24 July 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2010.
  13. "Naval Service Rank Markings". military.ie. Defence Forces (Ireland). Archived from the original on 25 April 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  14. "Defense Act of 2008" (PDF). 3 September 2008. p. 8. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  15. "Government Notice" (PDF). Government Gazette of the Republic of Namibia. Vol. 4547. 20 August 2010. pp. 99–102. Retrieved 20 December 2021.
  16. "Badges of Rank". nzdf.mil.nz. New Zealand Defence Force. Archived from the original on 3 July 2020. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  17. "Rank Insignia". navy.mil.za. Department of Defence (South Africa). Archived from the original on 18 May 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  18. "U.S. Military Rank Insignia". defense.gov. Department of Defense. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  19. 1 2 "Ranks and appointment". canada.ca. Government of Canada. 23 November 2017. Retrieved 28 May 2021.
  20. 1 2 "Instruction n°1 DEF/EMM/RH/CPM relative aux uniformes et tenues dans la Marine du 15 juin 2004" (in French). 15 June 2004. pp. 3793–3867. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
  21. 1 2 "LOI N° 96-029 portant Statut Général des Militaires" (PDF). defense.gov.mg (in French). Ministry of Defence (Madagascar). 15 November 1996. p. 2. Retrieved 10 July 2021.