9 Popular Navy Tattoos

A recurring line of questioning in future military personnel is the issue of tattoos. We live in an era that emphasizes the importance of expression that takes on the form of what previous generations considered “mutilation”. Whether or not that kind of accusation holds any weight is normally left up to the individual. Here is a quick list of popular Navy tattoos’ and their meanings.

1. Hold written on one set of knuckles and Fast written on the other is meant to give a sailor good grip in the rigging.


2. A Rope tattooed around the wrist suggests a sailor is or was a deckhand.


3. A tattoo of an Anchor tells that a sailor has been a part of the Merchant Marines or crossed the Atlantic.


4. A Nautical Star or Compass Rose was traditionally given so that a sailor could always find his or her way home.


5.  A Harpoon marks a member of the fishing fleet.


6. A Full-Rigged Ship displays that a sailor has been around Cape Horn.


7.  A Dragon conveys that a sailor has served in China, and a Golden Dragon is given when a sailor crosses the International Date Line.


8.  Guns or Crossed Cannons signify naval military service.


9.  During WWII, Pig and Rooster tattoos (sometimes one on each foot) were worn to prevent a sailor from drowning. Pigs and roosters were boarded in crates that floated, and subsequently, were said to have been the only survivors of some wrecks.


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