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.
The Navy's transitional design of the Good Conduct Medal extended from 1884 to 1961.
The Good Conduct Medal was initially awarded to enlisted men of the Navy who completed a second (or subsequent) enlistment of three years under Continuous Service; obtained a general average of 4.5 on their Conduct Records, and who were recommended by their commanding officer. In time it came to be awarded for the honorable completion of a fixed term of service.
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
Although the exact place in the order of precedence has changed over the years, the Navy Good Conduct Medal has generally taken precedence after all decorations and before all campaign and service medals.
The transitional design of the Navy Good Conduct Medal was done by Commodore Winfield Scott Schley and 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.
DESCRIPTION AND SYMBOLISM
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.