For its Chief Warrant Officer cadre, the Navy created a distinct set of sleeve rank insignia that eschewed the addition of extra stripes to indicate successively higher grades. Instead, the system uses a series of 1/8-inch blue breaks in a solid, 1/2-inch-wide gold lacing  to indicate the grade, but higher grades are somewhat unintuitively reflected by fewer blue breaks rather than more—although that rule is tossed out the window for the almost-mythical rank of CWO5.

Until 1975, the Navy classified CWOs as either Warrant Officers 1, who were appointed, and Chief Warrant Officers 2 through 4, who also had been selected but subsequently were commissioned like regular Officers. But in that year the Navy eliminated the W-1 positions, primarily because it was viewed as an extremely temporary stepping-stone to the CW02 rank, but it did maintain regulations regarding the sleeve insignia for those Sailors at W-1 or who retired at that rank. Instead of the ½-inch gold lacing used for all other CWO sleeve rank insignia, the W-1 lacing is only half the width (¼-inch), while sharing the same three, symmetrically placed blue breaks as its CWO2 counterpart.

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