The Navy deep-sixed all of its 91 enlisted ratings titles Thursday, marking the beginning of an overhaul of the rigid career structure that has existed since the Continental Navy in a radical shift sure to reverberate through the fleet and the veterans community beyond.
Sailors will no longer be identified by their job title, say, Fire Controlman 1st Class Joe Sailor, effective immediately. Instead, that would be Petty Officer 1st Class Joe Sailor.
Officials say the controversial move will improve sailors’ lives and ease their transition into the civilian workforce by broadening their skills in this tectonic shift in Navy’s personnel system to redraw the traditional lines between enlisted job specialties — a massive shake-up that is only beginning. Within the next three to four years, earlier if possible, the service plans to allow sailors to retrain in related skills, expanding their worth to the Navy while reaping broader assignment opportunities as well as increased advancement changes and greater access to special pays and bonuses that come with the most critical skills.“We’re going to immediately do away with rating titles and address each other by just our rank as the other services do,” said Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke in a Sept. 19 interview. “We recognize that’s going to be a large cultural change, it’s not going to happen overnight, but the direction is to start exercising that now.”Sailors past and present have longstanding and deep love of the titles that have defined their Navy lives. All of these now belong to the history books.