Military (Navy) ribbons worn in merchant marine uniform?

Can I wear my U.S.Navy chest candy on my dress blue/white merchant mariner uniform? To be more specific, can I wear my chest candy on my dress uniform with epelttes, this is a yacht issued uniform, similar.

Well, if you earned them, you are free to wear what you like.

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That isn’t entirely true. The Navy has specific regulations on how you can wear them when not in naval uniform (even on other service uniforms). As near as I can tell, the merchant marine doesn’t have similar regulations, but the USN policy would apply.

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Looks like no to me, except miniatures on your left lapel:

The Navy Uniform Regulations, Chapter 6, paragraph 61002; subparagraph 7 includes the requirements for wearing Navy decorations and medals on civilian clothes . The regulation authorizes the wear of miniature medals and miniature breast insignia on civilian evening dress (white tie) or civilian dinner dress (black tie) in the same manner as for dinner dress jackets. For non-dress-up-affairs, you may wear miniature replicas of ribbons made in the form of lapel buttons(written before mini-ribbon technology), or ribbons made in rosette form, on the left lapel of civilian clothes. You may also wear miniature-distinguished marksmanship and pistol shot badges as a lapel pin or as part of a tie clasp on civilian clothing.

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That excerpt sounds like it was written for people under jurisdiction if the UMCJ. What civilian federal laws stop veterans from wearing whatever they want?

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Veterans are encouraged to wear their ribbons on civilian dress – on Veterans’ Day and other such holidays.

I don’t know how much of this is a matter of law, and how much a matter of custom, social agreement, and not wanting to look, for want of a better word, desperate.

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Douchey. Fixed it for ya :stuck_out_tongue:


IMHO, you are entitled to wear the Medal of Honor any time you like, if so awarded. As to other “chest candy” I concur with desperate.

I worked as Captain part time for seven years on dinner and harbor cruise “T” boats, wearing my four stripes on epaulettes, but I would never consider wearing any USN device on that uniform.

In your case, if you were officially awarded the Naval Reserve Merchant Marine Insignia chest pin, or the Strategic Sealift Officer Warfare Insignia (SSOWI) that replaced it in June 2011, then it would be appropriate to wear that on your yachtie uniform.

From a retired USN mustang with 28 years service, and lots of retired ‘candy’.


We are of one mind.

To each their own but earned metals/ribbons are something to be proud of, its a symbol of pride and patriotism.

I worked with a retired Capt. By which I mean he held a commission and the rank of Capt.
Not being a navy guy. I could be wrong. I believe this is a bigger deal than just being some guy in charge of a ship.
He used to wear his company uniform with the little row of badges on his chest.
I have no idea what they meant and never asked. I respected the man as a gentleman and a pleasure to work with. For who he was. He earned his ribbons and if he felt like wearing them. Why not?
For years he used to do check rides and sign off on our internal clearance procedures for new Mates and Masters.

He was always in full dress with his ribbons. His personal habit would be to bring a set of epaulets and formally present them to a successful candidate in front of the crew.

I always thought it was a nice touch appreciated by those who he cleared. Perhaps with someone else’s it might have been pretentious with him it wasn’t.

A few deck crew had served with him prior to his retirement. He was a well respected gentleman to them as well.

Merchant marine has always been a quasi military organization. I wouldn’t regard a merchant marine uniform as equivalent to civilian evening dress.
So I can’t see any reason not to wear ribbons if you earned them.

I sailed with a few other ex navy officers none of the others ever have.
I never asked why. Perhalps it would be awkward if it turned out they never were awarded any

They do tend to be shinier than me though.

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I agree. While yes, if you legitimately earned them, you can wear them. The USN reg quoted above is similar, or perhaps the same as Army regs on the subject.

With that said, my ribbon rack is pretty pricey, and outside of formal dress occasions, I wouldn’t want to risk damaging it, so the ribbons stay on my dress uniform.

If you really want to display your ribbons, wear your top three (in precedence) on a single bar. That shows you earned stuff but you’re not pretentious about it.


As a civilian, and there are no conditions of employment against, or causes distractions, disorder or complaints while on the job or job site, there are no laws that stop you from wearing what you want in a way that pleases you. Wear it across your arse like Pink if you like ( I would get a kick out of that). May upset a few people in public but that type of activity is protected by the First Amendment.

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Here’s a few ideas from my ex-Navy point of view.

Firstly, your medals are not awarded by the Navy, they are awarded by the state, in my case Australia. So the wearing of medals earned by naval service is not a matter of naval dress regulations at all. Once awarded you can wear your medals whenever and wherever you choose. It’s up to you but discretion would suggest appropriate occasions and dress. The ribbons less so.

If you work for a company that wears a uniform that befits wearing medal ribbons you might consider seeking its endorsement. I have certainly worn my medals in my merchant uniform as have others but I don’t do it in everyday working uniform.

I would think that traditional merchant navy uniforms are ideal and appropriate for the regular wearing of medal ribbons. You never know, you might start a trend.

First you would have to start a trend of wearing a merchant dress uniform at all.

Ah yes. Try passenger ships and see how you go getting around in hi-vis, hard hat, safety boots with medal ribbons!

Oh for the days when we wore mess undress to dinner … every night … with detachable collars … and bow ties which we had to tie.

I might do it at home one night and scare the missus.

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Only once was I ever required to wear a uniform. The company hosted a tour of government officials (domestic and a few foreign). They quickly took us to a uniform shop and got us suitably attired (white shirt, black pants, shoulder epaulets, and dress shoes) .

Exactly, once you’re out you can wear them whenever, wherever, and however you want.

(It’s still desperate, just not illegal.)

Why are you wearing a uniform?

I’m sailing a square rigger involved in taking 40 trainees from all sorts of backgrounds to sea for a week or so as character development and the uniform is essential initially to distinguish the five professional officers and the pecking order to people who’ve never been to sea, or in some cases never even seen the sea. We wear it on the first day until everyone knows who’s who and on the last to enter harbour which we try to do with style with the trainees aloft manning the yards to impress their waiting friends and family (and display the character transformation we can produce in a short time).

The uniforms work as intended in our situation. I don’t wear the medal ribbons but could I suppose but they can already see I’m a crusty old warhorse.

I’m jealous. I’d love to go back to that if it paid well enough.