Although the Navy established its first Diving School in 1882, there was no type of insignia or distinguishing mark authorized for Sailors serving as Divers until 1929, when patches for Master Diver and First-Class Diver were introduced. As the need for Divers grew and their scope of work expanded, two more marks—Second-Class Diver and Salvage Diver—were soon added. Still, these were the nascent days of Navy Diving, and career advancement depended as much on experience and hands-on knowledge as on any type of formal training.

World War II saw the role of Navy Divers expand dramatically, thanks largely to the need for stealthy reconnaissance, surveying, and mine removal before landings on islands in the Pacific. Three of the Navy’s groups involved in diving operations—Scouts and Raiders, Combat Demolition Groups, and Underwater Demolition Teams—laid the groundwork for what eventually became ratings such as Special Warfare Operators (SEALs), Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), and of course Navy Divers.

But attempts create a Navy Diver rating in and of itself were fruitless for several decades, and the Navy continued to draw on Sailors from other ratings such as Gunner’s Mate or Boatswain’s Mate to train its Divers in ever-more sophisticated diving techniques. But while the Navy Diver rating was not established until 2006, the instantly recognizable Navy Diver qualification pin was created and authorized for wear.

The Navy Diver badge is released in three degrees: Second Class, First Class, and Master. Second-Class qualification requires completion of the ND Preparatory Course (conveniently held at Naval Station Great Lakes, home of the Navy’s Recruit Training Command) and the Second Class Diver Course (CIN A-433-0022) hosted by the Navy Diving and Salvage Training Center in Panama City, Florida.

To begin training to earn the First Class badge, NDs must have served two complete tours in a Second-Class Diver billet, finished a minimum of one tour at either a regional maintenance center or with a mobile diving and salvage unit. They must have reached the rate of Petty Officer First Class (paygrade E6), though waivers are available for E5 Sailors, and commit to three full years of obligated service following graduation from the training program. And they also must complete the Diving and Salvage Warfare Specialist Personnel Qualification Standards, which comprise more than three dozen types of duties across sea, shore, and staff, as well as the H302/Saturation Diver Course (E-Learning).

To learn more about the qualification standards for the Navy Diver breast insignia in general and for the Master badge in particular, please refer to MILPERSMAN 1220-100.

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