Sailors will no longer need 12 years of good conduct to wear gold stripes

The five finalists in the Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year competition are pictured on the grounds of the Netherlands Carillon in Washington D.C. (U.S. Navy/Photographer's Mate 1st Class Michael Moriatis)

The US Navy is no longer requiring twelve years of trouble-free service to get gold stripes on their uniform.

Announced Monday, the new rule goes into effect on June 1, and will allow Sailors with less-than-perfect records to wear gold stripes instead of red.

“All enlisted Sailors with 12 cumulative years of naval active or active reserve service are authorized to wear gold rating badges, and gold service stripes in lieu of red rating badges and stripes,” stated a Navy administrative message signed by Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke.

Under current regulations, Sailors who get in trouble before hitting the 12-year-mark get red stripes, whereas those with cleaner records have gold. In addition, those who earned gold stripes but get into trouble must switch to red, and wait 12 years before they can earn them back.

According to, some in the Navy feel the stigma often follows red-striped Sailors, which leads to gossip and humiliation.

By June, all Sailors with Active and Reserve time in the Navy spanning over 12 years will be eligible for gold stripes.

“Gold rating badges and service stripes may be worn on service dress blue, dinner dress blue jacket, dinner dress white jacket and full dress-blue uniforms only,” the NavAdmin states. “Petty officers entitled to wear gold rating badges and service stripes wear gold chevrons on their cap device, and the epaulets of the black relax fit jacket worn with the service uniform.”

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