The Navy Embraces Its Tattooed Traditions

Jun 8, 2018
(SPONSORED CONTENT) -- Strength and conditioning.
Muay Thai and kickboxing.
Some things just go together.

But tattoos and the Navy? You might not know it, but like mixed martial arts athletes, Sailors in America’s Navy love their ink. In fact, one in three Sailors sport tattoos.



Like MMA athletes, tattoos and body art have a long history in the Navy. Some Sailors still follow in the sea-faring tradition of earning a new swallow tattoo for every 5,000 nautical miles traveled. [Photo: hands with swallow tattoos as seen in social post] And for fighters and Sailors alike, every tattoo is personal.

Now, the service has adapted its body art policy to better represent the enlisted force and embrace the next generation of Sailors interested in pursuing meaningful adventure in their careers. In a service prized for its creative innovation, it should come as no surprise that the Navy’s people policies are continuously evolving to support the lifestyles of its Sailors.



The rules now allow Sailors to wear tattoos on their necks, hands and just about any place except their face. The size of neck tattoos is limited -- no larger than one inch in each direction– but leg and arm tattoos can be of any size. Check out the personal care policy here. This formally allows sleeve tattoos, even those that can be seen when wearing short sleeved uniforms, Popeye-style.



While the rules allow for bigger tattoos in more places, the tattoos continue to be subject to Navy policy, which prohibits obscene, sexually explicit or discriminatory content “based on sex, race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.” Tattoos that reference “gangs, supremacist or extremist groups, or advocate illegal drug use” are prohibited. No exceptions.



Learn more about tattoos in the Navy.

Test your limits and take on the adventure.
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