It's a The move makes that puts the Navy's tattoo policies as arguably the most liberal of any of the military services in what the Navy's top enlisted sailor is calling a reality check in recognizing it's own fleet culture and that of the nation as a whole.
"We just got to the point where we realized we needed to be honest with ourselves and put something in place that was going to reflect the realities of our country and the needs of our Navy," Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens said in a March 30 interview. "We need to make sure that we're not missing any opportunities to recruit and retain the best and the brightest because of our policies."
- Have multiple or large tattoos below the elbow or knee, including the wrists and hands, effectively allowing sleeve tattoos that can be seen even while wearing short sleeve uniforms.
- Have one tattoo on their neck, which includes behind the ear, and it may not exceed 1 inch in length or height in either or both directions.any direction.
- The move also lifts current restriction on Sailors with such visible tattoos will now be eligible for from recruiting duty assignments or leading recruits at boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. These tough assignments often give sailors a leg up to make rank. pushing recruits at Great Lakes.
What do you think of the new tattoo rules and what other changes would you like to see to for permitted piercings, tattoos, and branding? Tell us at Navylet@navytimes.com.
"In addition, tattoos that symbolize affiliation with gangs, supremacist or extremist groups, or advocate illegal drug use are prohibited — waivers will not be given for tattoos with prohibited content," the service said.
In 2015, the Army updated its rules to allow sleeve tattoos, but it does not permit soldiers to have ink on their necks or hands, which would be visible in the Army Service Uniform.
Tattoos are popular with sailors, especially millennials. New rules will allow more inked sailors to compete for career-enhancing jobs like recruiting duty. Here, Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class James Fisher participates in a cable reweaving in the engine room of carrier Abraham Lincoln.
Photo Credit: MC3 Ciarra C. Thibodeaux/Navy
"It's a tough recruiting environment out there already and when you start putting up barriers that don't have any true rationale behind them, you create problems for yourself into the future," he said. "We've met [recruiting] goal for 105 straight months and our recruiting is strong, but you never want to get behind."
MCPON, who is wrapping up a 33-year career that is longer than most millennials' lives, would "neither confirm nor deny" when asked whether he has any tattoos.
Senior reporter Jeff Schogol contributed to this report.
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.