The Fire Control Technician (FT) rating was first established in 1955 as the new designation for the Fire Controlman (FC) rating, due in no small part to the Navy’s transitioning from guns to missiles for many of its ships' offensive and defensive weapons systems. But in 1985, a split was made: FT Sailors would be billeted on submarines, and Fire Controlmen would be the weapons masters on surface vessels.

Simply put, if something on a submarine is related to combat control systems, it falls under the bailiwick of Fire Control Technicians. They operate combat-control systems; they carry out the intermediate- and organizational-level maintenance of them; they test the systems; and they maintain and operate any systems associated with combat control, including non-tactical computer systems and their peripherals.

The three job in the FT rating are roughly hierarchical, though of course some overlaps exists. At the top is the Combat Control Systems (CCS) Manager; below the Manager is the CCS Technician, and the equivalent of an entry-level job is that of CCS Operator. Of course, the words “entry-level” mean little when you’re dealing with the highly complex mechanical, electrical, and electronic systems that control the sophisticated weapons found aboard U.S. Navy Submarines.

As with any rating that entails serving aboard a submarine, future FT Sailors will follow up their Recruit Training with a visit to the Naval Submarine School in Groton, Connecticut. Following a month-long crash course to acquaint them with the world of submarine systems, they attend the much more intensive Class “A” Technical School, also in Groton, where the emphasis is on electronics, computers, electrical systems and combat-systems related to the equipment they’ll be working with on the Navy’s Fast Attack (Los Angeles-class) or Ballistic Missile (Ohio-class) submarines. Though not quite as sea-intensive as some ratings, the nature of the FT rating means that Sailors can expect to spend about 60 percent of their time assigned a fleet unit over the span of a twenty-year Naval career.


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