Posted by: Jacqui Murray | November 6, 2015

Qualifications of a Naval Officer

This short descriptor is included in a Midshipman’s Reef Points as a pithy discourse on what is expected of them. Long attributed to John Paul Jones, he actually didn’t writeUSNA graduate it:

Qualifications of a Naval Officer

It is by no means enough that an officer of the Navy should be a capable mariner. He must be that, of course, but also a great deal more. He should be as well a gentleman of liberal education, refined manners, punctilious courtesy, and the nicest sense of personal honor.

He should be the soul of tact, patience, justice, firmness, kindness, and charity. No meritorious act of a subordinate should escape his attention or be left to pass without its reward, even if the reward is only a word of approval. Conversely, he should not be blind to a single fault in any subordinate, though at the same time, he should be quick and unfailing to distinguish error from malice, thoughtfulness from incompetency, and well meant shortcomings from heedless or stupid.

In one word, every commander should keep constantly before him the great truth, that to be well obeyed, he must be perfectly esteemed.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, author/editor of dozens of books on integrating tech into the classroom, a tech columnist for TeachHUBEditorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, and freelance journalist on tech ed topics


  1. My daughter is a junior in high school, is deeply involved in the Navy Sea Cadets, and has determined that her goal upon high school graduation is to be came a Naval officer. I have been told to contact the Blue and Gold office which I did quite some time ago but have not heard back from them. Any advice? Also, a couple of years back she was diagnosed with a learning disability. I have heard this will completely block her from becoming an officer. Have you ever heard anything about that? Any advice you could give us would be greatly appreciated.
    Thank you.
    Joe Bentley


    • Hi Joe

      Sorry it took me so long to respond. I’d be aggressive about finding your B&G Officer. They are volunteers so something could have slipped through the cracks. Here’s the Blue and Gold link from USNA: That should get you started. Be tenacious–they like that in applicants.

      The learning disability–it depends. I’ve known many applicants with a learning disability who have done fine. But, some disabilities–like color blindness–automatically preclude admission. That’s a good issue to discuss privately with your B&G Officer.

      Good luck to your daughter. It’s a wonderful career for women. My daughter couldn’t be happier.


  2. […] the qualifications of a Midshipman here. See what you […]


  3. […] Qualifications of a Naval Officer […]


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