RCN is going to the polls to consult on changes to Rank designations

Navy News / July 13, 2020

As the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) maintains its momentum toward a more inclusive environment, an effort has been initiated to consider new rank designations for our junior ranks that will result in more inclusive and gender-neutral terms than the current Ordinary, Able, Leading and Master Seaman.

The RCN would like to engage with currently serving and retired members, stakeholders, and other interested Canadians to receive their feedback on this issue.

The potential alternative rank designations were arrived upon by a focus group consisting of Non-Commissioned Members, and were reviewed by the Directorate of Gender, Diversity and Inclusion using Gender Based Analysis +.

The RCN is an organization steeped in history, and while traditions provide an important part of our culture, our Service also needs to continuously evolve, and live up to our standing as a progressive Service and, indeed, one of “Canada’s Top Employers” (2019).

Sailors from across the Canadian Armed Forces will receive an e-mailed invitation to participate in the poll, and Social Media posts will invite retired members, stakeholders and interested Canadians to also participate. The engagement period will run from July 17th, through to the end of the month, July 31st.

Options for consideration include:

  • Replacing “Seaman” with “Sailor” meaning ranks would be Ordinary Sailor, Able Sailor, Leading Sailor and Master Sailor and would maintain their current abbreviated titles (OS, AB, LS and MS); and
  • Sailor classes such as Sailor 3rd Class (S3), Sailor 2nd Class (S2), Sailor 1st Class (S1) and Master Sailor (MS).

There will also be an open feedback field which will allow respondents to suggest alternative options for consideration.

The results of this poll will be considered in making the final decision to effect changes to these rank designations this fall, corresponding with the 110th Anniversary of the RCN and the 20th Anniversary of UNSCR 1325: Women, Peace and Security. This is an opportunity for the RCN to reinforce its commitment to being an inclusive and diverse organization.