Navy considers crotch-level rank insignia in effort to avoid awkward chest gaze

The service may soon field crotch-level rank tabs to solve the problem of the “awkward chest gaze."

By Bull Winkle

MILLINGTON, Tenn. — In the same spirit of innovation that developed the aircraft carrier and nuclear submarines, the Navy may soon field crotch-level rank tabs to solve the problem of the “awkward chest gaze,” sources confirmed today.

Navy officials began to consider the change soon after realizing that rank tabs in the center of a Navy working uniform (NWU) blouse require focusing the eyes at chest level to identify a wearer’s rank, which, in civilian circles, is commonly known as “leering.”

“The discomfort of someone staring at your chest was something our uniform design panel did not initially consider,” said Lt. Cmdr. Davin Baird, a spokesman for Navy Personnel Command.

“I don’t know how we missed that,” Baird said, “because we had a very inclusive panel of senior male officers as well as male chief petty officers, and even a few graybeard warrants.” 

Baird said that to design an insignia that invited less sexual harassment, Navy Personnel Command convened a new panel consisting of males of all ranks.


The panel began by reviewing the intent for Navy uniforms and rank badges, according to officials, and members quickly concluded that chest-level rank badges stem from Army considerations to make leaders less-conspicuous targets for enemy sharpshooters. Though historians noted that most naval personnel had not faced a shipborne sharpshooter threat since the War of 1812, the panel rejected the idea of collar rank.

“That could lead to eye contact, which would scare most ensigns,” said Baird.

After intense debate, the panel decided on placing the rank on the bottom hem of the NWU shirt front flap. “You can’t tell where the eyes are focused when somebody stares below the belt,” said Baird. “So, no harm, no foul!”

He added that the downward-stare is also consistent with Navy traditions.

“Annapolis graduates are used to looking down, after all that Bill-the-Goat chasing,” Baird explained. Historians added that crotch-gazing is a mariner custom so ancient that it is known as “the old meat and greet.”

“The solution was literally right before our eyes,” Baird said. “Sailors will be naturally comfortable with this eyesight focus.”

Using the same concept, the Navy is maintaining the practice of sewing name tapes above rear trouser pockets, which focuses the gaze on the wearer’s derriere.

"Our panel determined that there is no way that leering at someone’s ass while learning their name can lead to anything bad," Baird said.

As the press conference ended, a seaman apprentice walked on stage and yelled “Rank check!” before punching Baird in the groin.

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