|Hospital Corpsman Third Class|
On September 29, 2016 the historic rating system will be scuttled. No longer will a sailor be addressed as Boatswain Mate or Electrician. Personnel will be addressed only by pay grade. All entry level personnel (E-1 to E-3) will be referred to as Seaman regardless of their work assignment. Petty Officers (E-4 to E-6) will be addressed as Petty Officer Third Class, Second Class or First Class. Chief Petty Officers (E-7 thru E-9) will be addressed as Chief Petty Officer, Senior Chief Petty Officer and Master Chief Petty Officer. Specialty ratings will be replaced by a Navy Occupational Specialty Code.
When I enlisted in the Navy out of high school, after boot camp I attended Hospital Corps school and was then sent to the Marine Corps. We were designated FMF Corpsmen. FMF being Fleet Marine Force. We wore Marine uniforms, but instead of Marine stripes, we wore Navy insignias. In the Marine Corps it didn't matter much because all Corpsmen were simply called "Doc." Technically though I was a Hospital Corpsman Third Class, the equivalent of a Marine Corporal. Today it's simply Petty Officer Third Class.
The change was made because the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, has pushed the Department of the Navy to create gender-neutral titles for rankings. Mabus doesn't want people being called Corpsman, Yeoman or Damage Controlman, etc. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson said the question is, “do [the ratings] capture that inclusivity with the respect to diversity.” Whatever that means.
The belief is that as a result of the change, a sailor’s skills and primary job will be cataloged in their personnel record via a Navy Occupational Specialty code similar to the Military Occupational Specialty, used by the Army and Marines, and the Air Force Specialty Codes system.
The Navy tried to justify the change by saying it would allow more flexibility in the enlisted promotion and job assignments and it would allow sailors to hold more than one job designation, which will give them a broader range of professional experience and expertise opportunities. Sailors would be able to move between occupational specialties within the fields.
The Navy’s enlisted classification system was difficult to understand, but knowing what job a sailor performed was important. The ratings system became more complicated because of technology and some became obsolete, sometimes in the span of only a few years. In addition to clarifying jobs for the public, the change is supposed to ease the transition to into civilian life. It seems to me the Navy should be more interested in retaining personnel than trying to make it easier for civilians to understand exactly what a person's job was in the Navy.
Most sailors are proud of their rates, whether it was Airman, Fireman, Boatswains Mate, Torpedoman, Gunners Mate, etc. The Navy has made this change against the wishes of the vast majority of enlisted personnel. I understand the military is not run by majority rules, but most enlisted personnel are opposed to the break in the more than 200 year old tradition and think Mabus and Richardson are are dead wrong and stupid for trying to be politically correct and making the Navy rating system easy for civilians to understand.
As mentioned, pride in one's rating, which the new system has eliminated, has, from what I have been reading, created a huge morale problem among Navy enlisted personnel. But, some things never change...you can't argue with an Admiral.