When the United States Navy made sweeping changes to its Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) and Limited Duty Officer (LDO) programs in the mid-1970s, the officer designator system that had been in place for over twenty years was completely revamped. Along with the changes in numerical designators that were implemented to make administrative tasks easier and to align the designators more closely with warfare communities, many old CWO categories were disestablished or folded into newly created ones.
The CWO category of Underwater Ordnance Technician, for instance, had been established in 1948 and shortly thereafter given an officer designator of 733; its insignia was a torpedo, which was also used by Mine Warfare Technicians (734). Under the new system introduced in the 1970s, the officer designators were organized so that anyone could tell at a glance what the numbers translated into in terms of real-life duties.
The first digit indicates the officer community. The number 1 is used for line officers (restricted and unrestricted); the numbers 2 through 5 are reserved for the Navy’s eight Staff Corps; 6 is used for LDOs, even if they are serving as line or Staff Corps officers; and 7 is the number indicating Warrant Officers.
General Category of service within either the LDO or CWO communities is denoted by the second digit, with the numbers 1 through 5 indicating Surface, Submarine, Aviation, General, and Staff Corps respectively. The third digit indicates a specialty, while the fourth indicates status (Reservists, permanent grade of at least an Ensign, etc.).
Under this new system, Underwater Ordnance Technician CWOs now had an officer designator of 726x, or Submarine Ordnance Technician. However, the former Underwater Ordnance Tech CWOs were not limited to this category; they could also apply for CWO as a Surface Ordnance Technician (716x).
The enlisted rating of Torpedoman’s Mate, which was merged into Gunner’s Mate in 2007, was the source rating for Underwater Ordnance Technician CWO; it was still listed as a source rating for both the 716x and 726x CWO designators as of 2011.
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