Warrant Officer

Warrant Officer
Higher Rank:
  • Detachments
  • Units
  • Training Units
[ Source ]

Warrant Officer is the first warrant rank, ranking below a Staff Warrant Officer. It has a ranking code of W-1 and is equivalent to a Warrant Officer in the Starfleet Marine Corps. The rank insignia consists of one hollow pip.

A Warrant Officer (WO) is an officer in a military organization who is designated an officer by a warrant; distinguished from a commissioned officer who is designated an officer by a commission, or a non-commissioned officer (NCO) who is designated an officer by virtue of seniority.


The warrant officer corps began in the 13th century in the nascent English Royal Navy. At that time, noblemen with military experience took command of the new Navy, adopting the military ranks of lieutenant and captain. These officers often had no knowledge of life on board a ship — let alone how to navigate such a vessel — and relied on the expertise of the ship's Master and other seamen who tended to the technical aspects of running the ship. As the cannon came into use, the officers also required gunnery experts.

Originally, warrant officers were specialist professionals whose expertise and authority demanded formal recognition. They eventually developed into four categories:

  • Wardroom warrant officers
  • Gunroom warrant officers
  • Standing warrant officers
  • Lower-grade warrant officers

Literacy was one thing that all warrant officers had in common, and this distinguished them from the common seamen. According to the Admiralty Regulations, "No person shall be appointed to any station in which he is to have charge of stores, unless he can read and write, and is sufficiently skilled in arithmetic to keep an account of them correctly". Since all warrant officers had responsibility for stores, this was enough to bar the illiterate from attaining warrant officer status.

In 1843, the wardroom warrant officers were given commissioned status, while in 1853 the lower-grade warrant officers were absorbed into the new rate of Chief Petty Officer, both classes thereby ceasing to be warrant officers. By the time of the First World War, the standing warrant officers had been divided into two grades: Warrant Officers and Chief Warrant Officers (or "Commissioned Warrant Officers", a phrase that was replaced in 1920 with "Commissioned Officers from Warrant Rank", although they were still usually referred to as "Commissioned Warrant Officers", even in official documents). Their ranks had by then expanded with the adoption of modern technology in the Navy to include Telegraphists, Electricians, Shipwrights, Artificer Engineers, and so on. Both WOs and CWOs messed in the Warrant Officers' mess rather than the wardroom (although in ships too small to have a WOs' mess they did mess in the wardroom). WOs and CWOs carried swords, were saluted by ratings, and ranked between Sub-Lieutenants and Midshipmen.

In 1949, the ranks of WO and CWO were changed to "Commissioned Officer" and "Senior Commissioned Officer", the latter ranking with but after the rank of Lieutenant, and they were admitted to the wardroom, the WOs messes closing down. Collectively these officers were known as "Branch Officers", being retitled "Special Duties" officers in 1956. In 1998, the Special Duties list was merged with the General list of officers in the Royal Navy, all officers now having the same opportunity to reach the highest commissioned ranks.


Warrant Officers can and do command detachments, units, activities, small patrol vessels, aircraft, and armoured ground vehicles as well as lead, coach, train, and counsel subordinates. However, the Warrant Officer's primary task as a leader is to serve as a technical expert, providing valuable skills, guidance, and expertise to commanders and organisations in their particular field.

Starfleet Warrant Officer Ranks
Warrant Officer Staff Warrant Officer Master Warrant Officer Chief Warrant Officer