The Navy Good Conduct Medal was established on April 26, 1869, by Secretary of the Navy A.E. Borie. The transitional design of the Navy Good Conduct Medal followed from the original establishment of the Good Conduct Medal by the Secretary of the Navy in 1884, and the current Navy Good Conduct Medal evolved from that transitional design.


The current design of the Navy Good Conduct Medal has been awarded for qualifying service from 1961 to the present.


The Navy Good Conduct Medal is awarded on a selective basis to recognize four years of continuous active duty, above average conduct and proficiency by enlisted service members in the regular Navy or U.S. Naval Reserve.


The Navy Good Conduct Medal is worn after the Prisoner of War Medal and before the Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal.


Subsequent awards of the Navy Good Conduct Medal are denoted by stars three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter. Bronze stars denote individual subsequent awards; silver stars denotes five bronze stars.


The design of the current Navy Good Conduct Medal is based on the design of the transitional Good Conduct Medal which was designed by Commodore Winfield Scott Schley. Schley's design was based on the Navy logo then in use on certain documents, which itself bore a striking resemblance to the reverse design of Great Britain's Royal Navy Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.



In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, a sailing ship in full rigging is shown sailing to the right. Beneath the ship is the word CONSTITUTION. The ship and inscription are contained within a circle of rope tied at the base. The scene is superimposed over an anchor, with its stock appearing above and its flukes below. The anchor's chain forms a circle between the rope and the edge of the medal. Within the circles formed by the rope and chain are the words UNITED< (on the left) STATES (on the right) and NAVY (across the lower part of the anchor).

The ship is the Constitution, one of six frigates authorized by Act of Congress on March 27, 1794. Launched on October 21, 1797, the Constitution was a "ship of beauty, power, and speed ... fashioned as a national expression of growing naval interest, and a symbol auguring the dedication, courage, and achievement of the American fighting men and ships." The Constitution thus represents the American naval tradition. The cable, anchor, and chain are nautical symbols further referring to naval service.


The center of the reverse is blank for inscribing the recipient's name. The word FIDELITY appears on the inside contour on the left; the word OBEDIENCE on the right, and ZEAL at the base. These words are taken from the original Good Conduct Medal and represent the virtues recognized by the medal.


The ribbon to the Navy Good Conduct Medal is red and is based on the red stripe in the original three-colored ribbon; it was darkened to avoid its being confused with the ribbon of the Specially Meritorious Service Medal, 1898, which is a brighter shade of red.


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