Established on February 4, 1919, the Navy Cross honors Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard personnel who carry out exceptional feats of heroism during combat or qualifying military operations against forces hostile to the United States, or while carrying out service with friendly forces in armed combat. The Navy Cross is the second-highest U.S. award for valor and is equivalent to the Army Distinguished Service Cross, the Air Force Cross, and the Coast Guard Cross.
The medal is in the shape of a cross and features a ship asail; the medal is backed by laurel leaves. The reverse features two crossed anchors in the center. The ribbon is dark blue and is bisected by a thin vertical white stripe.
Additional awards may be indicated by gold or silver service stars.