Explanation of Rank and Rate

Below, in alphabetical order, is are the ranks and ratings you will see throughout this website. For some ratings, there are more than one listing. Changes in the rating abbreviations were made periodically, and most notably in 1948, when a new rating system was put in place.

When a character appears at the end of a rating, such as "BM1", that generally denotes a petty officer rate. The petty officer rates were, from lowest to highest: 3rd class (3 or 3c), 2nd class (2 or 2c), 1st class (1 or 1c), and Chief (C). Examples: BM2, EN3, MoMM2c, ENC. Prior to 1948, a Chief Petty Officer's rate would be expressed by putting the "C" before the rating: CBM for Chief Boatswain's Mate, CCS for Chief Commissaryman, etc.

Seamen, prior to 1948 followed this order in advancement: AS, Apprentice Seaman (Basic Training); S2c, Seaman second-class; S1c, Seaman first-class. Firemen would follow a similar order: AF; F2c; F1c. From 1948 on, the order was: SR or FR, Seaman or Fireman Recruit (Basic Training); SA or FA, Seaman or Fireman Apprentice; SN or FN, Seaman or Fireman.

A Seaman or Fireman could obtain a specialty rating by one of two methods. He could either attend a class "A" school, to learn his specialty, or apprentice with a rated man on board ship. This apprenticeship was known as "striking". A man who attempted this route was known as a "striker" Therefore, to denote personnel of less than Petty Officer rate, who have either achieved a rating by striking and/or test, the rate will be shown as, "GMSN" ,indicating that a Seaman has qualified for Gunner's Mate, or "EMFN" indicating that a Fireman has qualified for Electrician's Mate. Prior to 1948, it would be indicated by "S1cGM" or "S1cEM", Seaman first-class gunner's mate, and Seaman first-class electician's mate.

A vessel the size of Sarsi would not have a full doctor on board. Normally the medical duties would be carried out by a Hospitalman or Pharmacist's Mate. The duties would range from attending minor injuries or illness, stabilizing major maladies until the patient could be tranferred for more comprehensive care, health education, food and sanitation inspection, etc. The "HM" or "PhM" would often be addressed as "Doc".

The officers who normally were aboard the ATFs were customarily of lower rank than those that would staff a warship. On Sarsi, one who rose to rank of LTCDR, (Lieutenant Commander), was probably on his way to a larger vessel soon. The commanding officer was normally a LT, (Lieutenant). He would still be addressed as "Captain", as it is customary for the commanding officer to be addressed as such regardless of rank.


AS - Apprentice Seaman (until 1948, changed to Seaman Recruit)


Bkr - Baker (before 1948, merged with CS after 1948)
BM - Boatswain's Mate
BMC - Chief Boatswain's Mate


CBM - Chief Boatswain's Mate (before 1948)
CEM - Chief Electrician's Mate - (before 1948)
Ck - Cook (before 1948)
CM - Carpenter's mate (before 1948, later merged with Damage Controlman)
CS - Commissary Steward (before 1948, later Commissaryman)
Cox - Coxswain (before 1948)
CWO - Chief Warrant Officer


DC - Damage Controlman


EM - Electrician's Mate
EMC - Chief Electrician's Mate
EN - Engineman
ENC - Chief Engineman
ENS - Ensign (Officer)
ET - Electronics Technician


F1c - Fireman, first class
FA - Fireman Apprentice
FN - Fireman
FR - Fireman Recruit


GM - Gunner's Mate


HM - Hospitalman (after 1948)


IC - Interior Communications Repairman (after 1948)


LT - Lieutenant (Officer)
LTCDR - Lieutenant Commander (Officer)
LTjg - Lieutenant Junior Grade (Officer)


ME - Metalsmith
MM - Machinist's Mate
MoMM - Motor Machinist's Mate (Engineman after 1948)


PhM - Pharmacist's Mate (before 1948)


QM - Quartermaster
QMC - Chief Quartermaster


RD - Radarman
RdM - Radarman
RM - Radioman
RT - Radio Technician


S2c - Seaman, second class
SA - Seaman Apprentice (after 1948)
SC - Ship's Cook (later merged with CS)
SD - Steward
SF - Ship Fitter (before 1948, later merged with Metalsmith)
SK - Storekeeper
SM - Signalman (before 1948, later merged with QM)
SN - Seaman (after 1948)
SO - Sonarman
SoM - Sonarman (before 1948, formerly Soundman)
SR - Seaman Recruit
St - Steward
StM - Steward's Mate (before 1948)


TA - Apprentice Steward (a "non-rate" before 1948)
TN - Steward (before 1948, later merged with SD)


WO - Warrant Officer


Y - Yeoman
YN - Yeoman

For more information, go to http://www.bluejacket.com/usn_ratings.html

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