By the time the USS Langley was commissioned in 1922 as the first aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy, the need for new ratings encompassing the tasks of aviation maintenance and repair had already been addressed. In 1921, the Aviation ratings of Carpenter’s Mate, Machinist’s Mate, Rigger, and Metalsmith were established. With the move from wooden to metal airframes, Carpenter’s Mate was merged into the Metalsmith rating and Rigger was merged into the Machinist’s Mate rating
The current Aviation Structural Mechanic (AM) rating was born with the 1948 redesignation of Aviation Metalsmith. Until 2001, it had two service ratings, Mechanical Structures and Hydraulic Mechanic, both of where were folded into the AM rating in 2001. Finally, the AM rating was divided into Intermediate and Organizational Level “strands,” and a service rating of AM Safety Equipment (AME) was created.
At a paygrade of E9, the ratings of AM and AD (Aviation Machinist’s Mate) are combined to form the rating of Master Chief Aircraft Maintenanceman. Sailors pursuing the AME service rating who are promoted to Senior Chief Petty Officer (E8) are merged into the AM rating.
Enlisted personnel pursuing the AM or AME rating attend a Class “A” Technical School held by Aviation Maintenance Squadron 1 at Naval Air Station Pensacola. What career paths Sailors take following the nine weeks of Core courses depends on whether they are being trained for AM rating strands (Intermediate or Organizational Level) or the AME service rating. Intermediate Level AMs attend a one-week training school, while classes for Organizational Level AMs last three weeks. AMEs who will be assigned to squadrons equipped with ejection-seat aircraft will undergo two weeks of egress training.