A Brief List of Old, Obscure and Obsolete U.S. Navy Jobs
"U.S. Navy enlisted personnel—unlike those in the other services—wear their jobs on their sleeves. A Marine machine-gunner wears similar collar rank as the rest of his fire team; unless you ask him, or see his military occupation in his file, one could never know his job specifics just by looking at his uniform." (From The USNI WEBSITE). The U.S. Navy's non commissioned ("Petty") Officers all must fulfil a specific skilled "rating " aboard ship. Their ranks are spoken of as "Petty Officer Third Class, Petty Officer Second Class, Petty Officer First Class and the three grades of Chief Petty Officer (Senior , and Master). Ratings are the names of the set of technical skills each contributes to the operation of the ship. Some like "Boatswain's mate" have been around since the age of sail and will probably always be necessary. Other have liife cycles that are dependent on changing ship board technology. "Sailmaker" disappeared well over a century ago. In more recent history the steam related rates like "Boiler Tender" disappeared. Recently the U.S. Naval INstitute posted on its web site a pictorial essay on some of the more colorful obsolete rates. Below are links to this interesting side bar of naval history. If you are a naval professional you are missing something important if you are not a member of the Naval Institute, please consider joining while at their sight. You not need be a naval professional to join, naval and naval history enthusiasts are very welcome as well.
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Naval Institute article
Here is a link to an over view of naval ratings: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_Navy_ratings