Description: RAN – Petty Officer (PO) Rank Badge – Mess Dress (Single)

Maker’s Name: Unknown

Condition: Very Good Plus

Comments: Royal Australian Navy – Petty Officer (PO) Rank Badge – Mess Dress (Single).

A petty officer is a senior non-commissioned officer in many navies and are given the NATO rank denotation 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 Forces.

The modern petty officer dates back to the Age of Sail. Petty officers rank between naval officers (both commissioned and warrant) and most enlisted sailors. These were men with some claim to officer rank, sufficient to distinguish them from ordinary ratings without raising them so high as the sea officers. Several were warrant officers, in the literal sense of being appointed by warrant, and like the warrant sea officers, their superiors, they were usually among the specialists of the ships’ company.

Two of the petty officer’s rates, midshipman and master’s mate, were a superior petty officer with a more general authority, but they remained no more than ratings. However, it was quite possible for a warrant officer, such as the armourer, to be court-martialed for striking a midshipman as his superior officer. The reason why was both were regarded as future sea officers, with the all-important social distinction of the right to walk the quarterdeck. Midshipmen wore distinctive uniforms, master’s mates dressed respectably, and both behaved like officers. Master’s mates evolved into the rank of sub-lieutenant, and midshipmen evolved into a naval cadet.