View Full Version : Marine Captains on ship

09-22-2003, 09:02 PM
What are Marine Corps Captains called when aboard a Naval Vessle? I heard once that they were called Major as not to confuse them with Navy Captains. Is this true?

09-22-2003, 10:02 PM
If this one isn't answered by tomorrow, I will ask some classmates. There are several Navy guys, and I'm sure one of them can answer it.

Mr. Moto
09-22-2003, 10:19 PM
They are addressed as captains, never as major. Confusing them with a Navy captain isn't much of an issue, as that specimen is rare indeed aboard ship. Our ship only had one; I've seen, even on aircraft carriers, less than a dozen at a time aboard a ship.

There's a whole level of protocol for Navy captains (O6) and higher that doesn't apply to a lowly Marine captain (O3, or equivalent to a Navy lieutenant).

Hope this helps.

09-22-2003, 10:22 PM
You're going to ask some Navy guys what Marines are called? You're in for an entertaining day. :)

(Note: I'm suggesting you'll hear colorful phrases from Navy people. I, myself, am not saying anything one way or the other.)

Harvey The Heavy
09-23-2003, 08:07 AM
The Navy captains are usually called "Skipper" anyway. Everyone knows who he is.

Mr. Moto
09-23-2003, 09:12 AM
Redsland, you'll get no name calling from me. I love Marines. I see them every day and have great conversations with them.

Why, just the other day a young lance corporal was telling me how one of his favorite movies was Apollo 13. I agreed with him that it was very exciting and moving.

He couldn't figure out, though, how he missed movies 1 through 12.

09-23-2003, 09:42 AM
AFAIK they are indeed addressed as Captain So-and-So. The CO of the vessel may be referenced in casual speech as just plain "Captain" with no further naming, but that's rank-independent.

In any case one of the top duties of any servicemember is to thoroughly familiarize himself with the chain-of-command that applies to him. The only opportunities for confusion would arise if having short-tour or visiting officers of Captain (either service) rank, whom the complement may not know, is a common ocurrence. At the most, it would be a question of having the complement never use the phrase "THE Captain" to refer to anyone but the ship's CO.

09-23-2003, 09:43 AM
The Navy Captains who are familiarly referred to as "Skipper" are only those who are in command. "Skipper" also is used to refer to those of other ranks who are in command.

A Captain of whatever Service has the courtesy title of Captain even aboard a Naval vessel.

Feel free to go to bupers.navy.mil and click on "instructions." Once there, look up the Correspondence Manual to read the appendix which provides a listing of courtesy titles.

09-23-2003, 11:04 AM
Marine Captains aboard ship are called by their rank, "Captain". If they are in a command position, the can also be called "Skipper" at times (a practice I personally don't love). It is in the spoken context that the person and/or rank (O-3 vs. O-6) is clear.

Monty, it would be nice for you to provide a link to the actual page within that monster of a bupers website to support your statements, you are very likely much more adept at navigating it and understanding the lingo that most everyone else out here. There is no link saying "Correspondence Manual" after you click "Instructions", and no search function on that page. I am interested in this, since I see "courtesy title" as a bit odd when it is the actual US Military Rank in the other active services.

09-23-2003, 11:43 AM

Although I'm a PN1 (Ret), I thoroughly despise that disgusting crud known as the BUPERS webpage. (Know why they changed the name to BUPERS from NAVPERS? So it would rhyme with BLOOPERS!) I'm fairly certain they've managed to hit all ten of the top ten internet sins and a few they created all by themselves to boot.

But you're one of the cooler posters here, so I'll navigate it and post the links to the (don't blame me!) *()&)&(*&*&)*&& PDF file they decided to use there instead of something useful.

Anyway, the thing to do is to click on the link on the left margin that says "instructions" and then follow the trail to http://bupers.navy.mil/cdrom/cdrom.html. The next step is to click on OPNAV/SECNAV Instructions & click OK on the popup warning. That'll take you to http://neds.nebt.daps.mil/ (same rant about pdf, different-but related-people). From there, click on the big Cub Scout...er, Navy Blue & Gold button that says "Navy Directives INDEX." Click on "Table 47" and that'll take you to http://neds.nebt.daps.mil/Directives/table47.html. From there, you need to scroll down to SECNAV 5216.5D where you'll have the option of abusing your computer by clicking on the silly circle provided as a link that'll take you to http://neds.nebt.daps.mil/Directives/5216_5d.pdf.

On the positive side for BUPERS: they did manage to get intelligent with the MILPERSMAN just a few years ago and renumber its sections in line with the Standard Subject Identification Code so people could actually find information in it.

09-23-2003, 01:30 PM
And then THAT is a 144 page poorly scanned monster. Jeez!

I may check it out tonight. Thanks.

09-23-2003, 04:17 PM
The question has been answered, but I did ask some guys today. Basically the answers I got were, "What do you mean? Why would they be called something else. I've never heard of anything like that. What are you talking about..." :rolleyes:
They really rub it in.

09-23-2003, 04:56 PM

It's unwise to bait a Marine 0-3. There are few things more aggressive than a Marine LCPL, a Marine Sgt. Major, or a Marine Captain, unless you count rottweilers and pit bulls.

The first is too inexperienced to know when to quit, the second is too mean to ever quit, and the third would just as soon shoot you and get it over with.

You can always tell a Marine...but you can't tell him much.

09-23-2003, 05:07 PM
Jeez, if y'all weren't on the same side we'd have fought WWIII, WWIV, WWV, and WWVI anyplace Naval personnel and Marines were together.

Now, is there anything like a Navy-Marines football game... :D

09-23-2003, 05:47 PM
In "Starship Troopers" Heinlein mentioned the bit about Marine Captains being called Major. I asked my Dad, and he said he heard it *once* (and that is from Dec 1941 until he mustered out in 1946, and also many years in the National Gd), when there was a real possibility of confusion.

What *is* true is that if you are in charge of a craft-.you are called "Captain". As my dad, despite the fact he was only an E5 in WWII was briefly in command of a small army vessel used to run messages, supplies & such, and all the Navy guys called him "Captain" (or "capt'n) or "skipper". Most often "skipper", sure. He remembered some Navy Lt (Army Cap't) giving a Navy Ensign hell because the Ensign didn't ask Dad "permission to come aboard, Sir?", even tho the Ensign well outranked an Army Sgt. My Dad worked in HQ for the entire N. Pacific front, thus he ran into Marines & Navy more than a line soldier would of.

09-23-2003, 08:59 PM
More recently than Heinlein, David Weber's _On Basilisk Station_ repeats this bit of information. It seems to be standard operating procedure in most Space Navies...

09-24-2003, 01:28 AM
Just since nobody's brought it up yet, the Navy has strange officer ranks:

Navy = Marines/Army/Air Force

Ensign = Second Lieutenant
Lieutenant Junior Grade = First Lieutenant
Lieutenant = Captain
Lt. Commander = Major
Commander = Lt. Colonel
Captain = Colonel
Various degrees of Admirals = Various Generals (I never bothered to memorize all the Admiral ranks)

Equivalent ranks have the same insignia; e.g. a Navy Captain and a Marine Colonel wear eagles on their collar, a Navy Lt. and a Marine Captain both have a pair of gold bars, etc.

I would think, if it ever came up in a situation where it wasn't clear from context, the Navy guys would simply say something along the lines of "Our beloved Naval Captain" or "That damned jarhead captain" to differentiate*. :D

* --Note: No offense intended, I'm just poking fun at the rivalry from an Army-biased standpoint. :p

09-24-2003, 11:53 AM
Originally posted by Gunslinger
Just since nobody's brought it up yet, the Navy has strange officer ranks...
Actually, all of the other services have strange officer ranks. :D (Except for the Coast Guard; don't forget them!)

Originally posted by Gunslinger
...a Navy Lt. and a Marine Captain both have a pair of gold bars, etc.
silver (http://defenselink.mil/pubs/almanac/almanac/people/insignias/officers.html)

Originally posted by Gunslinger
Various degrees of Admirals = Various Generals (I never bothered to memorize all the Admiral ranks)
See above link (http://defenselink.mil/pubs/almanac/almanac/people/insignias/officers.html).

09-24-2003, 01:47 PM
The bars and other "junior" officer rank pins used by the Marines are different than those used by the Army, Navy, or Air Force. The bars are slightly smaller for the Marines. Makes buying them on other non-USMC bases a PITA. This was the case ten years ago, and I do not believe it has changed. The defenselink.mil cite is incorrect.

09-24-2003, 01:51 PM
I should clarify I am talking about the insignia for the utility uniform.

09-24-2003, 02:23 PM
Seing as this has wandered off-topic slightly, can I show my ignorance and ask "what is a 'Bird Colonel?' I really haven't a clue (goddam Limey!)

09-24-2003, 02:37 PM
It's just a slang term for a colonel. In the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Marines, the rank insignia for a colonel is an eagle (a "bird"). The next lower rank is lieutenant colonel. To distinguish a colonel from a lieutenant colonel, a colonel is sometimes referred to as a "full colonel," a "bird colonel," or a "full bird colonel."

09-24-2003, 02:40 PM
The size of the insignia may be different; howver, the form & color of same do not vary among the Services. A fun thing to know is that the Commissioned Corps of the PHS uses Navy rank abbreviations but not the Navy rank names for their ranks.

A "bird Colonel" is one who wears the Eagle insignia. That's why (s)he's also called a "Full Colone"l or a "Full Bird Colonel" as opposed to a Liuetenant Colonel who is sometimes called a "Telephone Colonel."

09-24-2003, 02:46 PM
What is the PHS and what rank names do they use then?

09-24-2003, 04:11 PM
Public Health Service (http://usphs.gov/html/uniforms.html).

09-24-2003, 04:41 PM
Originally posted by Monty
...as opposed to a Liuetenant Colonel who is sometimes called a "Telephone Colonel." I'd not heard that one, but another term is "Light Colonel". Other odd terms are the "Bull Ensign" or "Bull Lieutenant", who is the senior Ensign/2ndLt in a command, and can wear a larger bar with the text "BULL" enscribed on it. The other bar may or may not have "SHIT" on it. This is not official, to my knowledge, but is/was practice in the Navy and Marines.

09-24-2003, 04:54 PM
Thanks guys, enlightenment at last, I've wondered about this for years.

09-24-2003, 05:33 PM
UncleBill: don't forget the George!

09-24-2003, 10:15 PM
Originally posted by Monty

I thoroughly despise that disgusting crud known as the BUPERS webpage.

Great. Thanks for suggesting the link.

Former USN checking in, attached to a USMC command.

He's still captain. No one confuses him with the skipper. It's just a title.

I had a dog named King once. Good dog. Called him King. Never thought he was monarch potential.

09-24-2003, 11:21 PM
I'll bet HE thought so, though.

09-25-2003, 01:56 AM
stockton: I suggested the link because that's where BUPERS puts their online information--oddly enough on their webpage.

Plus, I bet your dog is a heck of a lot better monarch material than more than a couple of actual monarchs!

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