Established in 1978, the Gas Turbine Systems Technician rating (GS) is divided into two Service Ratings: Electrical (GSE) and Mechanical (GSM). As their titles imply, Sailors in the GSE Service Rating repair, maintain, and operate electrical components of a ship’s Gas Turbine Engines (GTEs), as well as the Gas Turbine Generators used to power shipboard equipment and systems. GSM Sailors work exclusively with the actual mechanical components of the GTEs, associated machinery such as gears, shafts and propellers, and other ancillary equipment.
Enlisted personnel accepted for the GSE or GSM Service Ratings will attend the Basic Engineering Common Core (BECC) course held at Naval Station Great Lakes, which is something of a convenience for them since this is also the home of Recruit Training Command, i.e., the Navy’s “Boot Camp” for newly enlisted men and women which they must attend prior to starting BECC.
Just how long they’ll be there depends on the Service Rating: GSM Sailors can look forward to just under four months of classes, starting with ten weeks of BECC courses followed by five weeks of training that’s specific to the GS Mechanical rating. Sailors destined to become GSEs, on the other hand, will call the Naval Station home for another month-and-a-half at the GSE Strand Technical School—roughly six weeks of group instruction and hands-on work with actual equipment.
It goes without saying that Sailors working on gas turbine systems can expect to working in hot, loud conditions when they’re on sea tours, which averages out to about two-thirds of the time for Sailors either the GSE or GSM ratings. Duties at shore installations will include some work on larger unit gas turbine generator units, as well as training of new Sailors attending the Class “A” School in Great Lakes.