Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano discuss the recent rating modernization update during an all-hands call in the Pentagon on Dec. 21. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Huey D. Younger Jr.)
By Tracy Fuga
Three months ago, Navy leaders eliminated sailors’ ratings in a move that was designed to reform the antiquated personnel system. On Wednesday, Dec. 21, those ratings were restored across the fleet, effective immediately, according to a Navy message.
The original decision to take away ratings titles infuriated many sailors. The traditional job titles, including boatswain’s mate that dates back to the founding of the service more than 200 years ago, have inspired a cultural loyalty among sailors and have defined enlisted career tracks for generations, Navy officials said.
Cmdr. Chris Servello confirmed Tuesday night that the Navy planned to restore ratings Wednesday and that a fleet-wide message from the chief of naval operations (CNO) would be released, along with more details from CNO and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Steven Giordano.
“The feedback from current and former sailors has been consistent that there is wide support for the flexibility that the plan offers, but the removal of rating titles detracted from accomplishing our major goals,” Adm. John Richardson, CNO, wrote. “There is a way to have the benefits of the rating modernization program without removing rating titles.”
Richardson acknowledged the negative reaction from the fleet was a key factor in the decision to bring the ratings back.
“We have learned from you, and so effective immediately, all rating names are restored,” Richardson wrote in a Navy message released Wednesday.
The push for the change in the enlisted system was born from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’ push to create gender-neutral terms for the Navy and the Marine Corps, Navy leadership said in September. Instead of simply tweaking rating titles such as Damage Controlman or Hospital Corpsman to make them gender neutral, the Navy instead moved to refer to junior enlisted sailors by a generic title and adopt a series of Navy Occupational Specialty (NOS) codes. The NOS codes are similar to the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) used by the Army and Marines and the Air Force Specialty Codes system.
Many sailors rejoiced at the decision to restore the rates.
“I think it’s great,” said Erwin A. Panergayo, USN veteran – Seabees, EO3 (Equipment Operator/Petty Officer 3rd class). “Navy ratings have been around for more than 200 years. The rates are a matter of Navy tradition. When the ratings system was changed to be more gender neutral, many were disappointed because you’ve basically killed the tradition; you’ve let down the thousands of sailors who enlisted to be what their fathers/grandfathers were when they were in the Navy. Your Navy rate is part of your identity in the Navy; it’s more than just a job code in the Marines, Army or Air Force.”
Even though the ratings have been restored, change still lies ahead as the Navy plans to continue with its broader effort to modify the rigid personnel system and make career paths more flexible in the future.
“This course correction doesn’t mean our work is done – rating modernization will continue for all the right reasons,” Richardson wrote. “Modernizing our industrial-age personnel system in order to provide sailors choice and flexibility still remains a priority for us.”