The job description for the Coast Guard Damage Controlmen (DC) rating is nearly identical to that of the Navy’s. However, there is a significant difference between their working environments: Navy vessels can often exercise the option to steer clear of punishing and treacherous ocean conditions, while Coast Guard ships frequently head into them on a regular basis as an inherent part of their Ice Operations, Search and Rescue, and Aids to Navigation missions.

Established in 1948 as a Deck (Group I) rating, Damage Controlman subsumed a wide variety of ratings and took on their duties and responsibilities; notable examples of disestablished ratings whose duties were folded into the tasks assigned to DCs include Radiological Warfareman, Firefighter, Blacksmith, Metalsmith, Shipfitter, and Carpenter’s Mate. Today’s Damage Controlmen are tasked with maintaining watertight integrity, performing firefighting duties and maintaining firefighting equipment, repairing plumbing and other components of ship infrastructure, fabricating materials to effect repairs, and CBR (Chemical, Biological, and Radiological) detection and decontamination.

The Damage Controlman “A” School was commissioned the same year at Training Station Groton in Connecticut, with the first classes consisting of Fireman and Seaman Recruits; only one in ten successfully completed the 16-week course and earned the rate of Damage Controlman Third Class. Subjects covered in the training included welding, metalsmithing, shallow-water diving (for underwater repairs), woodworking, and ABC (Atomic, Biological, and Chemical) warfare.

The rating was moved to the Group III rating division, Engineering and Hull, in 1952, and in 1968 the rating’s “A” School was relocated to Governors Island, the Coast Guard’s largest installation and home to the Atlantic Area command. Sixteen years elapsed before the school was moved yet again, this time to its current location Training Center Yorktown in Virginia in 1984.

A broad array of disciplines are covered in the nearly 15-week-long DC course, but many of them hearken back to the original curriculum taught at Groton when the rating was first established. In addition to classes on leadership and administration, trainees are taught the fundamentals of shipboard firefighting, plumbing, pipefitting, watertight integrity maintenance, CBR warfare defense, rough construction, and oxy-fuel cutting and brazing. Graduates are prepared to serve as junior petty officers at land or afloat billets, typically on buoy and river tenders or major cutters. The advanced training in welding, damage control, shipboard firefighting required for certain afloat and land billets is available at the rating’s “C” School, also held at TC Yorktown.

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