U.S. NAVY BOATSWAIN'S MATE (BM) BUCKLE

When the topic of Boatswain’s Mate (BM) comes up, the words most commonly tossed about are “paint” and “chipping.” But that probably has more to do with how much some people dislike painting than it does with the tasks that up-and-coming BMs will be performing (although the standard explanation for the selection of the current Navy camouflage pattern is that it hides paint stains very well). Naturally, for paygrades E1 through E3—Recruits, Apprentices, and Seamen, respectively—there are many tasks involving maintenance of the exterior of the ship and the handling of cargo. But for Seamen who choose the BM rating as career, the breadth and depth of new duties is quite extraordinary.

The three jobs of Boatswain’s Mates—Ships and Boats Mate, Able Seaman, and Ordinary Seaman—are based entirely on paygrade. Ordinary Seamen have a paygrade of E4, and their tasks are divided into several very broad categories that cover almost every aspect of deck operations—including, of course, Painting and Preservation, hence the “chipping” and “paint” meme. But other categories include Amphibious Operations; Anchoring, Mooring, and Towing; Cargo Handling, Rigging, and Cranes; Deck Seamanship; Equipment Administration; Flight Deck Operations; Marlinspike Seamanship; Replenishment at Sea; and Small Boat Operations.

With their years of experience, Chief Petty Officers is the link that bridges the gap between enlisted Sailors and officers—and a glance at what the duties and tasks Chief Boatswain’s Mates must master early in their careers as Ordinary Seamen gives you an idea of why their know-how and experience is so highly valued in the U.S. Navy.
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