Rank of Ensign in the RNZN

The RNZN introduced the rank of Ensign in 1968 as a result of changes to training policy and procedures. Unlike the United States Navy which replaced the rank of midshipman with Ensign in 1862, from 1968 the RNZN has kept both ranks as part of the naval command structure.

 

The RNZN introduced the rank of Ensign in 1968 as a result of changes to training policy and procedures. The rank of Naval Cadet had been abolished in the 1950s. Unlike the United States Navy which replaced the rank of midshipman with Ensign in 1862, from 1968 the RNZN has kept both ranks as part of the naval command structure. The rank insignia is a half ring as the Sub-Lieutenants were given a single full ring which meant the ranks above advanced one ring or half a ring the in the case of Lt-CDRs

New Zealand Navy Order 11 July 1968

170/68 Definition of Ranks

It defines the terms Substantive, Temporary, and Acting and then illustrated examples thusly:

Probationary Acting Sub-Lieutenant was now the rank of Ensign

Temporary Acting Sub-Lieutenant was now the rank of Temporary Ensign

Acting Sub Lieutenant was now the rank of Ensign

Therefore on this basis Ensign was a substantive rank replacing those two ranks with a Temporary Rank of Ensign in the place of the Sub-Lieutenant.

This was added to by NZNO 171

This order replaced the rank of Cadet, Cadet Midshipman with the one rank Midshipman. It confirmed the introduction of the substantive rank of Ensign which replaced the existing rank of Acting Sub-Lieutenant.  All officers holding the rank of Acting Sub-Lieutenants were to change their rank effective from 11 January 1968 to Ensign and use the new rank insignia.

The orders indicate that this had everything to do with changes in the officer training programme and the attempt to streamline the ranking system from Midshipman to Admiral within the RNZN.