Navy does away with all 91 enlisted rating titles

(Dec. 1, 2015) From the left, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Blane Wilson, from Buffalo, N.Y., has his second class petty offer rating badge sewed on by Steelworker 2nd Class Jeffery Conmy during a Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 "tacking on crow" ceremony on Naval Station Rota, Spain, Dec. 1, 2015. NMCB 1 promoted 21 Sailors to their newly appointed petty officer ranks with a traditional "tacking on crow" ceremony with a contemporary frocking ceremony in Rota, Spain. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brannon Deugan/RELEASED)

There’s been a huge career shake-up in the Navy, as the service has decided to dump its 91 enlisted ratings titles.

The move Thursday marks a radical shift away from the strict style that’s existed since the days of the Continental Navy–where it was common to hear phrases like, “Gunner’s Mate stood up the watch.”  Descriptions like that will now officially only be found in history books.

This huge overhaul began in part with a directive from Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to find gender-neutral rating titles without the word “man” in them.

Airman, fireman, constructionman, and hospitalman will all be stripped and replaced with job codes. Gunner’s mates will now be identified as B320, for example.  Seaman is the only non-rated rating remaining–for E-3 and below–according to the Navy Times.

Sailors will no longer be identified by their job titles, Instead they’ll be addressed by rank only — as in the other military services. For example: “Fire Controlman 1st Class Joe Sailor would instead be Petty Officer 1st Class Joe Sailor,” the Navy Times wrote.

The move will disband ratings entirely and reorganize sailors into occupations specialties, or NOS. The new occupational specialties will be regrouped under broader career fields. Not everything will be stripped, however. The warfare qualifications that demonstrate the sailor’s mastery in operational commands will remain in their titles.

Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens, now retired, supported the changes as a way to “promote more cross training and boost sailors’ post-service employment opportunities.”

So, the changes being made right now and over the next several years, they’re hoping, will help sailors have a smoother transition into the civilian workforce. In addition to the title changes, sailors will be re-trained in related skills to “expand their worth” in the Navy.

It’s unclear what will happen with the iconic insignias featured on badges or the specialty marks on uniforms, belts buckles and pins.

Navy officials say they’ll cross that bridge eventually.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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