The letter “E” is used an attachment on two very distinct Navy awards: the Navy “E” Ribbon, and the Marksmanship ribbons of Sailors who score an “Expert” rating when qualifying with either a pistol or rifle.

Created from the old Battle Efficiency Award, which was simply a capital “E” sewn directly onto the sleeve of the uniform, the Navy “E” Ribbon as established in 1976 thanks to a recommendation by Secretary of the John Middendorf II. Despite the rudimentary change in design—the “E” is now sewn onto a ribbon rather than onto the uniform itself—the current Navy “E” Ribbon is awarded on the same basis as the “Battle ‘E’ Award,” i.e., to those Sailors serving on or with ships and units cited for outstanding performance during a Battle Efficiency competition.

When sailors are awarded the “E” Ribbon, they’re also authorized to wear a 3/16-inch Silver “E” in the center of the ribbon. The same size “E” attachments are awarded each time the Sailor subsequently qualifies for the “E” Ribbon; each new star is added to the ribbon so that the display is centered and symmetrical. When Sailors reach a total of four awards, the individual Silver “E”s are removed and replaced with a single, wreathed “E” centered on the ribbon bar. No further Silver “E” attachments are added to the “E” Ribbon beyond this point regardless of how many more times a Sailors qualifies for the award.

The ¼-inch, block-letter Silver “E” is authorized for wear on the ribbon bar of the Navy Expert Pistol Shot and Rifleman Medals. For pistol, Sailors must score between at least 228 out of a possible 240 points to garner the Expert Pistol Shot designation; a minimum of 170 is mandated out of a possible 200 for Rifle qualification. Sailors who qualify as Expert receive a ribbon and a medal; the “E” is worn on the ribbon, while the medal has no attachments.

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