In selecting Operations Technicians (Chief Warrant Officer designator 712x), the U.S. Navy draws upon Sailors in the paygrades of E7 to E9 in three ratings: Sonar Technician (Surface), Operations Specialist, and Cryptologic Technician (Tactical).
Surface Sonar Technicians are basically anti-submarine warfare (ASW) specialists, working as ASW equipment operators and technicians or managing ASW operations. Sailors serving in this rating typically log twelve-and-a-half years of service before being promoted to Chief Petty Officer (E7). Operations Specialists, on the other hand, reach the grade of CPO after thirteen years of service (on average). The breadth of jobs in the OS rating is substantial, reflecting the equipment employed on modern Navy vessels: Electronic Systems Operator, Navigation and Plotting Specialist, Operations Administrator, Combat Air Controller, and Warfare Operator.
The Cryptologic Technician (Tactical) service rating is based upon the Communications Technician (CT) rating; the new rating title was instituted in 1976. Besides Tactical, there are four other Service Ratings: Interpretive, Maintenance, Collection, and Networks. The average time for a Sailor to reach the E7 paygrade in this rating is eleven-and-a-half years.
While all CWOs are, by definition, technical specialists, the background of many Operations Technicians—especially those drawn from the Operations Specialist rating—means their possible duty assignments are quite broad. One possible assignment would be in the Combat Information Center, the “nerve center” of a Navy vessel’s warfighting capabilities, where their extensive familiarity with the myriad types of displays, sensors, and other equipment can prove almost invaluable.
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