Ensign (rank)


Ensign (rank)

Ensign (IPA2|ˈɛnsən) is a junior rank of commissioned officer in the militaries 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 itself acquired the name.

"Ensign" is "ensigne" in French, "Fähnrich" in German, and "chorąży" in Polish, each of which derives from a term for a flag. The Spanish "alférez" is a junior officer rank below lieutenant associated with carrying the flag, and so is often translated as "ensign", although unlike the rank in other languages it has no etymological link to flags, instead deriving from the Arabic for horseman.

Argentina

In Argentina, the rank of ensign is used by both the air force and the gendarmerie. It is, however, used differently in the two services. The air force uses the rank for newly qualified officers, while the gendarmerie uses "ensign" ranks as an equivalent for the army's "lieutenant" ranks.

Poland

The Polish Army equivalent of "ensign" is "chorąży" (the Polish for "ensign" or "flag" being "chorągiew").

Romania

The Romanian Navy equivalent of "ensign" is "aspirant".

Russia

The present-day Russian-Army equivalent is the NCO rank of "praporshchik" ("пра́порщик");and the Russian-Navy equivalent, "Mitshman" ("ми́чман").

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, 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

In the United States Navy, the rank of "Ensign" superseded in 1862 that of "Passed Midshipman". It is the most junior commissioned officer in the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps and the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps ranking below lieutenant junior grade. It is also equivalent to a second lieutenant in the United States Army, United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force. A typical Ensign is at specialty training for up to two years after receipt of the commission, depending on specialty, and after that is a division officer, leading a group of petty officers and enlisted personnel in a "division". Even this billet, however, is for training purposes, as the division officer's duties and responsibilities are specifically designed to familiarize the "Div-O" with the appropriate naval systems, programs, and polices. U.S. Navy and Coast Guard Ensigns wear a collar insignia of a single gold bar, hence their nickname of "butterbars" (shared with Army, Air Force and Marine 2nd lieutenants).

Until achieving the rank of lieutenant commander, it is customary to address naval officers as "Mister." For example, Ensign Smith might also be addressed as "Mister Smith".

The most senior U.S. Navy ensign on board ship or in a naval aviation squadron, receives an enlarged collar insignia, often engraved with the word "BULL", and is known as the "Bull Ensign". However, this is usually confined to within the command, as it is not recognized as regulation uniform devices. By tradition, this officer is responsible for guiding and mentoring the other ensigns of a ship or squadron's wardroom. In some wardrooms, the Bull Ensign must don a bull-horned hardhat to social functions.

The Bull Ensign is the direct social superior to the J.O.R.G. Ensign, or "George" (Junior Officer Requiring Guidance) who is the most junior officer in a naval command. (The origins of the term "George Ensign" are not clear. J.O.R.G. is a backronym.) The Bull is directly responsible for the actions of the JORG. The JORG normally serves as the Vice-President of the mess at formal military dinners, or "mess nights", and has key responsibilities for the success of this important military social event. The JORG is typically the collector and manager of the Wardroom Fund, a bank account funding miscellaneous incidentals to social functions as well as parting gifts or plaques for separating officers. Some of the various incidental duties of the JORG may also include maintaining the senior officer of the wardroom's Government-Owned Vehicle (GOV), setting up projectors and screens for General Military Training (GMT) and various other tasks. In the Seabees, the JORG is called the "Boot" and must carry a concrete- and rebar-filled Boot. This boot must be inspection-ready at all times. Other members of the Wardroom often seek to steal the boot and hold it ransom.

While officer rank is determined based on date of rank and line number precedence, not all ensigns typically receive the same prejudice as demonstrated by the JORG and Bull traditions. Limited Duty Officer or other prior enlisted, are often viewed as being a bit more knowledgeable and experienced as freshly commissioned officers. As such these members often referred to as "Mustangs," who are typically given tougher assignments commensurate with those appropriate for an Ensign. They are also designated as an O-1E versus an O-1 in regard to pay and benefits. True "Mustangs" never experience a break in service. The O-1E pay grade is available to prior enlisted servicemembers with greater than four years of enlisted service. Therefore, the O-1E pay grade does not necessarily indicate one is a Mustang. Prior enlisted service members earning a commission retain separate pay benefits from regular commissioned officers until promotion to O-4.

In Fiction

United Federation of Planets

In Starfleet (from the fictional universe of "Star Trek"), "Ensign" is the most junior officer rank. It is the rank bestowed on newly commissioned officers when they graduate from Starfleet Academy. Ensigns typically begin their careers as the most junior officers in the department of their chosen specialty. Ensigns who have strongly distinguished themselves in their academy class or on duty may sometimes be given posts as main-shift bridge officers (such as Ensigns Pavel Chekov or Harry Kim).

Earth Federation

In the Universal Century timeline of the Gundam anime series. The rank of Ensign is the 7th rank up below Lieutenant JG. The rank of Ensign is only extended to the EFF army branch. Notanble EFF Ensigns include Ensign Shiro Amada, Ensign Kou Uraki (Later Lieutenant JG), Ensign Amuro Ray (Later Lieutenant)and Ensign Hayato Kobayashi.

See also

* U.S. Navy officer rank insignia
* Comparative military ranks
* Sub-Lieutenant
* Signifer
* Vexillarius

References

*"Division Officer's Guide" / James Stavridis and Robert Girrier - Naval Institute Press, 2004 - ISBN 1591147999


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ensign (disambiguation) — Ensign is a distinguishing token, emblem, badge, or flag such as a symbol of office.Ensign may also refer to:Rank* Ensign (rank), a junior rank of commissioned officer in the armies and navies of some countries * Ensign (Star Trek), a… …   Wikipedia

  • ensign — en sign ([e^]n s[i^]n also [e^]n s[imac]n, except for 4a), n. [L. enseigne, L. insignia, pl. of insigne a distinctive mark, badge, flag; in + signum mark, sign. See {Sign}, and cf. {Insignia}, 3d {Ancient}.] 1. A flag; a banner; a standard; esp …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Ensign bearer — ensign en sign ([e^]n s[i^]n also [e^]n s[imac]n, except for 4a), n. [L. enseigne, L. insignia, pl. of insigne a distinctive mark, badge, flag; in + signum mark, sign. See {Sign}, and cf. {Insignia}, 3d {Ancient}.] 1. A flag; a banner; a… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ensign — late 14c., via Scottish, from O.Fr. enseigne (12c.) mark, symbol, signal; flag, standard, pennant, from L. insignia (pl.) (see INSIGNIA (Cf. insignia)). Sense of banner, flag is c.1400; that of soldier who carries one is first recorded 1510s. U.S …   Etymology dictionary

  • ensign — [en′sīn΄; ] also, & for 4 always [, en′sən] n. [ME & OFr enseigne < L insignia: see INSIGNIA] 1. a badge, symbol, or token of office or authority 2. a flag or banner; specif., a national flag, as one displayed on a ship [Historical] 3. Brit.… …   English World dictionary

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  • ensign — ► NOUN 1) a flag, especially a military or naval one indicating nationality. 2) the lowest rank of commissioned officer in the US and some other navies, above chief warrant officer and below lieutenant. 3) historical a standard bearer. ORIGIN Old …   English terms dictionary

  • Ensign — For other uses, see Ensign (disambiguation). An ensign is a national flag when used at sea, in vexillology, or a distinguishing token, emblem, or badge, such as a symbol of office in heraldry. The word has also given rise to the military rank of… …   Wikipedia

  • Rank insignia of the German armed forces — The ranks of the German armed forces, known collectively as the Bundeswehr, were set up by the President with the Anordnung des Bundespräsidenten über die Dienstgradbezeichnungen und die Uniform der Soldaten on the basis of section 4, paragraph 3 …   Wikipedia

  • ensign — UK [ˈensaɪn] / US [ˈensən] noun [countable] Word forms ensign : singular ensign plural ensigns 1) a flag on a ship that shows the country that it comes from 2) a) an officer of low rank in the British Army, in the past b) an officer of low rank… …   English dictionary


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