Merchant vessels have played critical roles in United States military efforts dating back to the Revolutionary War, but it was not until 1913 that the United States Navy sought to establish a more formal coordination between government and private shipping interests with the establishment of the Naval Auxiliary Reserve. Consisting of the merchant marines who were also members of the U.S. Navy, the Auxiliary Reserve was redesignated Merchant Marine Naval Reserve in 1925.

In 1936, Congress passed the Merchant Marine Act was passed with the goal of supporting the merchant marine industry while simultaneously setting forth guidelines for the utilization of merchant ships for national defense, particularly during times of war. The Act created the U.S. Maritime Commission and mandated the creation of a fleet of U.S. vessels that would serve the dual roles of commercial transportation as well as being available as auxiliary vessel during war or emergencies.

Two years later, the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps—later renamed the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy—was established. Around the same time, a breast insignia was established (it had been authorized by the Merchant Marine Act) consisting of a gold pin with an eagle with wings spread surcharged by two crossed anchors and a shield; at the bottom were the initials “U.S.” on the left and “N.R.” on the right. It was authorized for wear on Merchant Marine uniforms as well as by midshipmen at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. Over the years, it became known colloquially as the “sea chicken.”

In June, 2011, the Chief of Naval Operations announced that the Merchant Marine Reserve, U.S. Naval Reserve program would become the Strategic Sealift Officer Program. With this change, the old breast insignia was discontinued, replaced by the Strategic Sealift Officer Warfare insignia. The new insignia features a spread eagle surcharged with two crossed swords, over which rests a shield holding an anchor.

About us

As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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Salute Industries Inc, proud maker of The Salute Uniforms.
105 Apache Drive, Archdale, NC, 27263.