The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal was originally established as the Secretary of the Navy Commendation for Achievement with Ribbon by Secretary of the Navy John B. Connally's SECNAVINST 1650.12 of May 1, 1961. In 1962 the name was shortened to the Secretary of the Navy Commendation for Achievement. In 1964 it was converted to a medal and its name was changed to the Secretary of the Navy Commendation for Achievement Medal, and on July 17, 1967 the Secretary of the Navy changed its name to the Navy Achievement Medal. The final name change took place via ALNAV 084/94 when Secretary of the Navy John H. Dalton changed the name to The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal has been in effect (with modifications) since May 1, 1961.
The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal was designed by Arnold P. Simmons and sculpted by Lewis J. King, Jr., both of the Army's Institute of Heraldry. The first person to receive the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal is unknown.
The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal may be awarded to members of the Armed Forces in the grades of lieutenant commander (or major) and below. It is awarded for meritorious service or achievement in either combat or noncombat based on sustained performance or specific achievement of a superlative nature but which does not warrant a Navy Commendation Medal or higher. It may not be awarded for service involving participation in aerial flight after January 1, 1969.
- When Awarded For Professional Achievement
The act or service must clearly exceed that which is normally required or expected, considering the individual's grade or rate, training, and experience; and it must be an important contribution of benefit to the United States and the naval service.
- When Awarded For Leadership Achievement
The act or service must be noteworthy; it must be sufficiently sustained to demonstrate a high state of development (if for a specific achievement, it must be of such merit as to earn singular recognition); and, it must reflect most creditably on the efforts of the individual towards the accomplishment of the unit mission.
The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal is worn after the Joint Service Achievement Medal and before the Combat Action Ribbon. Additional awards are indicated by gold stars five-sixteenths of an inch in diameter. The Combat Distinguishing Device may be authorized.
A fouled anchor is displayed in the center of a rectangular bronze medallion one and a quarter inches wide (with clipped corners). There is a five-pointed star (point up) in each corner of the medal. This design was suggested by the flag of the Secretary of the Navy, under whose authority it was established.
The reverse of the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal is blank for engraving the recipient's name.
The ribbon is myrtle green (suggested by the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal). A stripe of Indian orange inside each edge distinguishes the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal from the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.