The Coast Guard established the Machinery Technician (MK) rating in 1974 with the merger of three ratings: Boilerman (BT), Engineman (EN), and Machinist’s Mate (MM). In disestablishing the Boilerman rating, the Coast Guard presaged the Navy’s move in 1996 to eliminate its Boiler Technician (BT) rating by over twenty years. (Side note: While the Coast Guard’s use of “BT” for the Boilerman rating is likely due to the name of the Navy rating, the precise reason for using MK as the rating abbreviation for Machinery Technicians remains a mystery.) The Wikipedia entry for the MK rating erroneously claims it also absorbed the Gas Turbine System Technician (GS) rating, but the Coast Guard never had such a rating; Gas Turbine Engineer was a specialty of the Engineman rating.

Machinery Technicians begin their Coast Guard careers as non-rated Firemen, serving afloat aboard a cutter or at a shore station before attending the MT Class “A” School at Training Center Yorktown in Virginia. The scope of the 13-week course is breathtaking, with sections covering HVAC, hydraulics, electrical theory and practical applications, internal combustion engines (gas and diesel), and a host of fairly specific mechanical skills.

In addition, MT candidate are taught the basics of logistics and supply-chain management and introduced to leadership principles that will be need almost as soon as they graduate: entry-level MT petty officers are often assigned supervision over non-rated Firemen being considered for entry into the MT Class “A” School. Nearly all of this training takes places in the classroom with the exception of the internal combustion engine coursework, which lets students break down and reassemble a Detroit Diesel 6V92TA engine, commonly used for marine propulsion.

As their careers progress, Machinery Technicians are billeted as Shop Supervisors at shore units or as Engineering Petty Officers on cutters. Duties also tasked to Machinery Technicians that are not readily apparent from the rating designation include the containment and control of hazardous materials and serving as a member of a pursuit crew (this is a collateral position requiring certification) aboard an authorized pursuit-capable unit.

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