U.S. NAVY HULL MAINTENANCE TECHNICIAN (HT) RATING BADGE
The story of how the Hull Maintenance Technician rating (HT) came to be established is one of the more convoluted ones in modern Navy history. Every time you pinpoint a point of origin, you discover a piece of information that takes you further back in history.
Strictly speaking, the Hull Maintenance Technician rating was established in 1972—but with its creation the duties of an existing rating, Damage Controlman (DC), were absorbed. The DC rating had been established nearly twenty-five years earlier by combining a variety of ratings and specialists such as Carpenter’s Mate (and two of its specialist classifications), Painters, and Fire Fighters. And in 1954, the Chemical Warfareman rating was disestablished and it duties merged into the Damage Controlman rating, which meant DC Sailors were tasked with become experts in Chemical, Biological, and Radiological warfare defense.
But the type of work carried out by today’s Hull Maintenance Technicians can also be traced back to the now-disestablished ratings of Pipefitter, Metalsmith, and Shipfitter, all of which went through their ow series of establishments and disestablishments.
Between 1972 and 1988, Sailors in the HT rating underwent a rather protracted period of training in order to become grounded in their incredibly broad array of tasks. Like enlisted personnel in all ratings, Hull Maintenance Technicians attended a Class “A” School (theirs was locate in Philadelphia) to learn the basics of their new trade, but then were required to attend courses held at Naval Station Treasure Island for training in the duties formerly performed by Damage Controlmen and Chemical Warfaremen, as well as a course in San Diego to learn skills such as welding, brazing, and so forth.
One of the most unforgettable experience for HT Sailors who went through the school at Treasure Island was an exercise in which they fought to prevent the “sinking” of the USS Buttercup—not a ship, but a training facility found in Building 341 on Avenue M and 4th Street. (Today, the equivalent of Treasure Island’s Buttercup is located in Norfolk.) In 1988, the Navy re-established the Damage Controlman rating, lightening the training and workload of Sailors serving as Hull Maintenance Technicians.
Sailors seeking jobs in the HT rating begin training immediately following completion of Naval Boot Camp. The first step is a 10-week course called the Basic Engineering Common Core, which Sailors from a wide variety of related ratings also attend, at Naval Station Great Lakes in Illinois. This is followed by with the Hull Maintenance Technician “Strand” School, also at NS Great Lakes. This is an intensive 6-week course with plenty of hands-on applications of the principles that are taught in classroom settings and through individual instruction. Successful completion of the HT Strand school leads to assignments at shore installations or aboard fleet units, and HT Sailors spend about sixty percent of their time stationed aboard fleet units over the span of a twenty-year career in the Navy.