1. Careers
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Discuss in my forum

Navy Enlisted Rating (Job) Descriptions and Qualification Factors

Boatswain's Mate (BM)


PACIFIC OCEAN (May 23, 2011) Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Andrew Runge, from St. Louis, directs an aircraft onto catapult three aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is participating in a composite training unit exercise off the coast of Southern California.
U.S. Navy / Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

Boatswain's Mates (BM) train, direct, and supervise personnel in ship's maintenance duties in all activities relating to marlinspike, deck, boat seamanship, painting, upkeep of ship's external structure, rigging, deck equipment, and boats. BM's also operate and maintain equipment used in loading and unloading cargo, ammunition, fuel, and general stores.

This is an enlistment program option which enables men and women to enlist without a specific rating. Such "seamen" are called Boatswain's Mates, and remain so, unless/until they "strike" (apply) for a Navy rating (job) at a later point in their career. Most recruits who enlist under this option due so because the rating of choice is not available at the time of their enlistment.

The duties performed by Seamen (Boatswain's Mates) include:

  • serving as helmsmen and lookouts;
  • repairing, maintaining and stowing equipment in preparation for underway operations;
  • working in non-engineering divisions of the ship or station;
  • standing security watches while in port and under way;
  • operating sound-powered telephone systems;
  • doing temporary duty for 90-120 days with food services divisions or compartment cleaning;
  • serving as a member of damage control, emergency and security alert teams;
  • participating in naval ceremonies;
  • taking part in underway replenishment (transferring supplies from ship to ship at sea);
  • working with qualified personnel to gain job training and experience.

Working Environment

After successful completion of this training, Seamen are usually assigned to shipboard duties where the Navy needs them the most. Seamen can request and may receive on-the-job training in a rating that they are interested in, qualified for and is available at their first command by completing correspondence courses and personal advancement requirements. They must also be recommended by their commanding officer for the Navy rating they desire.

A-School (Job School) Information

After completion of recruit training, enlistees in the Seaman Apprenticeship Training Program attend a three-week course on basic theory in shipboard operations and evolution's. This is not considered an "A-School." Seamen may also attend Navy schools to learn about general damage control, shipboard fire fighting, preventive maintenance of special equipment, and the use of special tools used in the rating they are working in or seeking.

ASVAB Score Requirement: None Established.

Security Clearance Requirement: None

Other Requirements


Sub-Specialties Available for This Rating: Navy Enlisted Classification Codes for BM

Current Manning Levels for This Rating: CREO Listing

Note: Advancement ( promotion ) opportunity and career progression are directly linked to a rating's manning level (i.e., personnel in undermanned ratings have greater promotion opportunity than those in overmanned ratings).

Sea/Shore Rotation for This Rating

  • First Sea Tour: 60 months
  • First Shore Tour: 36 months
  • Second Sea Tour: 54 months
  • Second Shore Tour: 36 months
  • Third Sea Tour: 36 months
  • Third Shore Tour: 36 months
  • Fourth Sea Tour: 36 months
  • Forth Shore Tour: 36 months

Note: Sea tours and shore tours for sailors that have completed four sea tours will be 36 months at sea followed by 36 months ashore until retirement.

Much of the above information courtesy of the Navy Personnel Command

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.