Difference Between U.S. Navy And Marine


The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps are very unique branches of service and while they both involve maritime service and both are separate branches of the military, they are both a part of the Department of the Navy.

Though both the US Navy and US Marine Corps are both seaborne, Marines are often thought of as the foot soldiers of the Navy. Naturally, those who have served in the Corps and those who have served in the Navy will have differing opinions as to which branch is better in the Marines vs Navy argument.

In this article, we provide a detailed overview that will go along way in helping you understand the differences between the Marines and the Navy and how they work in unison to keep the U.S. safe. 

The Navy and Marines

The U.S. Navy and the U.S. Marine Corps are two separate, distinct, and co-equal naval services whose service chief reports to the civilian “Secretary of the Navy.” Each service maintains its own separate service headquarters and chains of command. 

While Navy and Marine Corps personnel sometimes have the same (or very similar) technical training in many specialties and some serve (especially Navy health care and religious services personnel) in units of their “sister” naval service, each service has its own recruiting, recruit training, noncommissioned officer training and professional development programs, officer candidate schools, basic, advanced, intermediate, and senior officer professional education programs, uniforms, insignia, grade of rank structure, and manpower organizations for assignments, promotions, and retirement, etc.

The U.S. Navy is a multi-dimensional (surface, underwater, and air) force charged with maintaining freedom of navigation in international waters, deterring aggression against the U.S. and its allies, protection of shipping and U.S. maritime interests around the globe, projection of naval power abroad, and worldwide sealift for other U.S. armed services.

The U.S. Navy is the largest and most powerful navy in the world, with the estimated tonnage of its active battle fleet alone exceeding the next 13 navies combined, including 11 allies or partner nations of the United States as of 2015.

The U.S. Navy was founded on October 13, 1775, with the Department of the Navy established in 1798. The Navy’s mission is to “maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas,” and it does so with warfare specialities that include aviation, surface warfare, nuclear submarines, special forces and support services. 

The United States Marine Corps, also referred to as the United States Marines, is the maritime land force service branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for conducting expeditionary and amphibious operations through combined arms, implementing its own infantry, artillery, aerial and special operations forces. The U.S. Marine Corps is one of the eight uniformed services of the United States.

The Marines are divided into four groups: the operating forces that do the actual fighting, the headquarters for leadership, the supporting establishment that provides logistical support, and the Marine Corps Reserve.

While the Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy, its command structure is similar to the Army’s, with teams, squadrons, platoons and battalions, except it follows the “rule of three,” meaning there are usually three of each lower unit within the next larger unit.

In other words, The Marines are technically part of the Navy, they give the Navy its ability to assault and occupy shorelines and beyond. Both branches face a considerable amount of time deployed, but some might argue that duty in the Marine Corps is harder because the Marines have infantry and they tend to be the first responders of the American military.

U.S Marines vs Navy: Key Differences

Points of ComparisonU.S. MarinesU.S Navy
DescriptionThe U.S. Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy.The Navy falls under Department of defense.
Founded11 July 1798.27 March 1794.
TypeMaritime Land Force.Maritime Force.
RoleConducting expeditionary and amphibious operations.Protection of shipping and U.S. maritime interests around the world.
SizeThere are approximately 200,000 troops in the Marine Corps.There are approximately 360 000 troops in the U.S. Navy.
Motto(s)Semper fidelis” (“Always faithful”)Semper Fortis” (“Always Courageous”)
ColorsScarlet and Gold.Blue and Gold.
Headquarters & WebsiteThe Pentagon Arlington County, U.S.

The Pentagon Arlington County, U.S.


Key Takeaways

  • The Marines are ‘sisters’ to the Navy, both of which fall under the Department of the Navy. Both naval services are headed by their own uniformed “service chief” who is a member of the U.S. “Joint Chiefs of Staff.”
  • Defending the territorial integrity, seaports, maritime boarders, American shipping lines and U.S. citizens is the primary objective of the Navy
  • The marines have the primary purpose of maintaining and protecting the U.S. interests at sea including international maritime special operations, counter-terrorism, counter-drug operation, piracy etc.
  • The Navy’s recruit training lasts about seven weeks and the Marine Corps lasts 13 weeks. 
  • There are approximately 360 000 troops in the U.S. Navy whereas there are approximately 200,000 troops in the Marine Corps.
  • The Marines are responsible for conducting warfare way from home, both on land and sea.
  • The US Navy focuses on keeping a fleet of ships, aircraft, and personnel trained and ready for combat operations, protection of free passage through American shipping lanes, and humanitarian missions.