The Core Values of the Navy


The Navy’s core values are some of the simplest to grasp yet the most powerful of all the core values assigned to different branches of the military.

According to the Department of the Navy Core Values Charter, the core values of the Navy, “build the foundation of trust and leadership upon which our strength is based and victory is achieved.” Used almost as a code of ethics, the Navy’s core values are first taught to new recruits during Naval Academy training.

While there are many navies around the world, in this article I will focus on the United States Navy. The core values of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps hold that every member of the Naval service, from active members, reserves, and civilians, must understand and live by the core values of the Navy.

Similar to the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps embrace three core values. (The U.S. Army has seven.) Read on to uncover them all.

What are the Core Values of the Navy?

Founded October 13, 1775, as the Continental Navy, while the current core values of the Navy—honor, courage, and commitment—were adopted in 1992, the “principles on which the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps were founded continue to guide us today.”


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Let’s take a look at each of these values in full:

1) Honor

According to the Department of the Navy Core Values Charter on the U.S. Navy website, the first core value of the Navy focuses on honor. “I am accountable for my professional and personal behavior. I will be mindful of the privilege I have to serve my fellow Americans.”

The charter continues to state that members of the U.S. Navy will:

  • Abide by an uncompromising code of integrity, taking full responsibility for my actions and keeping my word.
  • Conduct myself in the highest ethical manner in relationships with seniors, peers and subordinates.
  • Be honest and truthful in my dealings within and outside the Department of the Navy.
  • Make honest recommendations to my seniors and peers and seek honest recommendations from junior personnel.
  • Encourage new ideas and deliver bad news forthrightly.
  • Fulfill my legal and ethical responsibilities in my public and personal life.

Being an honorable man or women is a value at the very core of military life. In my article on character traits I looked at numerous positive traits that, when combined, point toward honor as the ultimate value that the recipients of these traits must hold dear to them in order to be true to themselves.

2) Courage

The second of the Navy’s core values focuses on courage. “Courage is the value that gives me the moral and mental strength to do what is right, with confidence and resolution, even in the face of temptation or adversity.”

The charter continues to state that members of the U.S. Navy will:

  • Have the courage to meet the demands of my profession.
  • Make decisions and act in the best interest of the Department of the Navy and the nation, without regard to personal consequences.
  • Overcome all challenges while adhering to the highest standards of personal conduct and decency.
  • Be loyal to my nation by ensuring the resources entrusted to me are used in an honest, careful and efficient way.

In the same way that the U.S. Army speaks of “personal courage,” the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps embrace “courage” as one of the core values of the Navy; something to be both celebrated and fostered in greater abundance.

3) Commitment

The third and final core value of the Navy focuses on commitment. “The day-to-day duty of every man and woman in the Department of the Navy is to join together as a team to improve the quality of our work, our people and ourselves.”

The charter continues to state that members of the U.S. Navy will:

  • Foster respect up and down the chain of command.
  • Care for the personal and spiritual well-being of my people.
  • Show respect toward all people without regard to race, religion or gender.
  • Always strive for positive change and personal improvement.
  • Exhibit the highest degree of moral character, professional excellence, quality, and competence in all that I do.

Of the three core branches of the United States Armed Forces, the Navy is the only branch to include “commitment” as one of their core values. The Navy’s core values state that as a member of the Navy or Marine Corps you must be dedicated to your team; with this dedication expanding to their wellbeing at every level.


Studying the core values of the Navy allows us to recognize the power of having core values not just in the military, but in our day-to-day, civilian lives.

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Benjamin Spall is the co-author of My Morning Routine (Portfolio/Penguin). He has written for outlets including the New York Times, New York Observer, Quartz, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, CNBC, and more.