The Operations Specialist rating (OS) was established in 1972 when the Navy decided to disestablish the Radarman rating (RD) and divide its duties among two new ratings—Electronic Warfare Technician (EW) and Operations Specialist—and the existing Electronics Technician (ET) rating. Radarman had been established in 1943, four years after the battleship USS New York became the first vessel in the U.S. Naval fleet to be equipped with an operational radar system.
Operations Specialists assigned to fleet units work in the Combat Information Center (CIC) of combat ships, where tactical and strategic data from a wide variety of inputs is processed and analyzed as part of the Command-and-Control process. Because of their intimate work not only this data but also the equipment used to gather and interpret it, Sailors in the OS rating must be United States citizens and able to pass strict security-clearance requirements.
Following Recruit training, Sailors wishing to serve in the OS rating will attend the Class “A” Technical School at the Naval Service Training at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois. Here, they will spend approximately ten weeks of study in the disciplines of navigation, weapons control, unit identification, and command communications. Graduation from the Class “A” School is usually followed by deployment to either a ship or a shore installation. Class “C” classes focusing on specific types of equipment are available for OS Sailors as their career progresses.
The very title “Operations Specialist” is an indicator that this is a fairly sea-intensive rating. Typically, the first Sea Tour for OS Sailors lasts sixty months and is followed by a three-year shore tour, and on average they spend only two-fifths of a twenty-year career assigned to shore duty.