Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Photograph from the Naval Records Collection in the U.S. National Archives

EDITORIAL NOTE: 8/2/2017 due to extreme unpopularity among the Navy's Petty Officer Corps this fiasco of political correctness as of today appears to be at least on hold for the time being. Let's hope the Navy comes to an institutional sense of its own history before it blunders into this error again.   


 Periodically the Navy and Coast Guard have to take a look at their enlisted specialty fields (called "ratings" in "Navspeak).  Occasionally changing technology eliminates the need for specific rates in their entirety. That's why you don't find sail makers among the active rates anymore. Sometimes technologies that started out needing very skilled operators evolve into more "user friendly" models that can easily be operated by watch standers whose higher identified ratings related skills are not in the operation of the older more difficult to operate technology. The older operator rating is then extinguished and the easier to use technology folded into the expected competencies of another rate or several ratings likely to have a use for the equipment. (See our previous post: A Brief List of Old, Obscure and Obsolete U.S. Navy Jobs).

 Today however we bring you news of a new U.S. Navy rate review, this time the driving force is political correctness. According to the Naval News Service "In order to be as inclusive as possible and reflect that all Navy occupations are open to men and women, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus recently met with his leadership team to discuss the services enlisted rating titles review". One of the goals of this review, if not the driving force behind it is to make the rating titles more "gender inclusive". What a long way we have come since 1965 when the "honorman" of a Navy boot class was awarded a certificate announcing him to have proven himself a "True man of wars man". Really, heaven forbid that naval service might be perceived as a manly occupation. God knows that such an attitude might give an enemy pause for thought before attacking where a girly navy should engender no fear. Clearly this administration would never want to engender fear in an enemy. Enemies are just friends and contributors we haven't met yet. 

 The Navy will also create a second group of senior leadership to study how potential changes to rating titles may affect personnel policy issues. Heaven forbid that any sailor might be offended ......by anything...like maybe an order to do violence to an enemy? The really scary part is that the flag officers who have survived the Obozo purges are embracing this time and money wasting task and see it as an opportunity to "pour a foundation that will last for decades to come". We propose a name for that foundation "SSI" (Sissy Sailor Initiative) 


  1. It's interesting to look back at this in light of the news announced today. With many changes in the military, we often don't get the full story until after the change takes place, such as this case. While taking the "-man" out of many job titles may have been part of a goal, a much more crucial part involves modernizing an archaic detailing process, as well as a enabling a more diverse training pipeline. By simply removing ratings altogether and focusing on specific job skills, it can remove some of the awkward manning bottlenecks the Navy has struggled to fill for years.

    It seems to work for all the other services, mostly.

  2. Ben, What you wrote is true and the other purposes of policy weren't published until after we published. However we stand by our opinion that gender neutrality should not be a naval or military goal. There are many militarily significant differences between men and women such as in percentages of "color blindness" and differences in NIOSH permissible repetitive lifting capabilities. Personnel planning and mission planing must take these gender norm facts into consideration in planning and policy. All moves towards "gender neutral" policies and planning are thought processes that can lead to failed missions and battles. Too many women make for weak damage control teams. Keeping women out of flight ops would eliminate the portion of the recruitable population with the best color vision. Then there is the fact that the Navy and Coast Guard already have "personal qualification codes" that cross ratings, a "boat coxswain" might be a personal qualification assigned to a Boatswain's mate, Operations Specialists, or even a Machinery Technician. The real problem in the naval / Coast Guard enlisted detailing process is that some personal qualification codes take up so much time to keep up that they interfere with a petty officer's advancement in his actual "rate". "Diver" used to be a Coast Guard personnel qualification code most often held by Boatswain's mates and Damage Controlmen, it just recently became a petty officer
    rating and warrant officer specialty. The "archaic detailing process", isn't so archaic as mismanaged. There is a time for extinguishing rates (like Sailmaker ), and elevating widely needed and challenging personal qualification codes into rating standards.