Established in 1919, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal honors members of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps who demonstrate outstanding service in a role of significant responsibility. This service must be in excess of expectations, and the awarded is typically reserved for senior officers. It may be awarded for service retroactive to April 6, 1917 and assumed its present rank under the Navy Cross in 1942.
The medal features an eagle grasping an olive branch, encircled by dark blue enamel and an inscription reading “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA NAVY,” which is in turn encircled by a wave pattern. The medal is joined to the clasp by a white, ball-tipped star with the image of an anchor on it. The reverse of the medal features a trident encircled by a wreath of laurels and reads “FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE.”The ribbon is dark blue and is bisected by a thin vertical yellow stripe.