Since 1944, the job of the Aviation Boatswain’ Mate (AB) has been the operation, maintenance, and inspection of equipment and materials related to all aspects of shipboard aircraft and their operation, including fueling, takeoff, landing, handling (ashore and afloat), firefighting, crash rescue and removal, and damage control.
In 1948, the AB rating was subdivided into a multitude of service ratings. Today, those ratings have been merged into three service ratings: ABE (Launching and Recovery), ABF (Fuels), and ABH (Aircraft Handling). When an AB reaches paygrade E-9, the three ratings are combined to form the rating of Master Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABCM).
Regardless of the desired service rating, all personnel seeking an AB will attend Class “A” Technical School in Pensacola, Florida. Approximate training times vary depending on the service rating, with the ABE rating course taking about five weeks and the ABF and ABH ratings clocking in at six weeks. Upon completion “A” school, ABs will be assigned to aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, and other ships carrying planes or helicopters, or to a Naval Air Station. The nature of the rating means that, over the course of a 20-year Navy career, ABs will typically spend about sixty percent of their time assigned to fleet units.

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