The Sailor’s Creed consists of five sentences that most Sailors were introduced to in basic training before they knew the gravity those words held. Even then, many Sailors knew that the words they were saying amounted to something much greater than themselves. Though the Sailor’s Creed is still a young naval tradition, it is a unifying tool around which many Sailors shape their lives.
A statement of intent, and a daily pledge to service, the Sailor’s Creed means something different to each Sailor aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and through out the Navy.
“The Sailor’s Creed was written by a Blue Ribbon Recruit Training Panel in 1993 at the direction of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Frank Kelso,” said Master Chief Personnel Specialist James Robertson, the leading chief petty officer of Nimitz’ Administration Department. “Kelso personally participated in the final edit of the group’s proposal and directed the finished product be given to every recruit, so they could commit it to memory.”
The Sailor’s Creed was written as an ethos for all Sailors to live by in order to truly understand and support the Navy and the U.S. Constitution. It also closely mirrors the Oath of Enlistment.
“Being that the Sailor’s Creed derived from the Oath of Enlistment, it is the essence of what we do as Sailors,” said Robertson. “Our main focus is defending our great Constitution, regardless of who is trying to destroy it. Our jobs, our oath, our creed; they are all designed to protect our Constitution, and our rights granted to us from it.”
With just a few minor changes, the Oath of Enlistment eventually adapted to The Sailor’s Creed. In 1994, CNO Admiral Jeremy Boorda approved replacing the word “Bluejacket” with “Navy”, and in 1997 he changed “my superiors” to “those appointed over me.” Those changes were done with the intention of making the Sailor’s Creed more capable of spanning the gap from E-1 to O-10, and give the Navy as a whole a unifying statement.
Many Sailors across all ranks onboard Nimitz are able to find something to identify within the Sailor’s Creed.
“The Sailor’s Creed is a daily reminder of pride, upholding integrity and a mission statement for our lives,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class Lisa Warren.
For Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Airman Recruit Paul E. Britton III, the Sailor’s Creed isn’t just a saying, but a symbol.
“The Creed is the armor over your Navy Working Uniform,” said Britton. “It stands for everything you have done with your career and everything that has been done before you.”
The Sailor’s Creed may be a relatively new addition to the constantly changing customs of Navy tradition, but it has had an impact on Sailors since it was first conceived. For each Sailor, the creed may mean something different, but across all rates and ranks, it is a unifying pledge binding Sailors together in the name of honor, courage and commitment.
Story and photos by MC3 Chad Anderson
The Sailor's Creed is a code of ethics of the United States Navy, originally developed for the promotion of personal excellence.
The first version of the Sailor's Creed came from an idea in 1986 by Admiral James D. Watkins, Chief of Naval Operations, to form a group that would create a Code of Ethics for the Navy. The result of this meeting at the Naval War College was the eight-point The Navy Uniform, and was later scaled down to a shorter version called the Sailor's Creed. The original text was as follows:
Original Sailor's Creed
- I will be loyal to my country, its Constitution and laws, and to my shipmates.
- I will be honest in my personal and professional life and encourage my shipmates to do the same.
- I will, to the best of my ability, do the right thing for its own sake, and I am prepared to face pain or death in defense of my country.
- I will be a professional, wearing my uniform with pride and accepting responsibility for my actions.
- I will set excellence as my standard and always strive for ways to make me a better sailor and my crew a better crew.
The current version of the Sailor's Creed was a product of many Blue Ribbon Recruit Training Panels in 1993 at the direction of AdmiralFrank B. Kelso II, Chief of Naval Operations. It has been revised twice; once in 1994 under the direction of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jeremy Boorda, and again in 1997. These changes were made to make the creed inclusively descriptive of all hands. The creed is taught and recited in boot camp and, incorrectly, at some officer accession programs. (The line about "obey[ing] the orders of those appointed over me" is incompatible with an officer's oath, which is only to support and defend the Constitution.) 
Current Sailor's Creed
I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.
I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.
I proudly serve my country's Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment.I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.