One of the forerunners of the United States Coast Guard, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, had two Quartermaster ratings, with their titles and specialty marks distinctly reflecting their respective bailiwicks: the Wheelman Quartermaster insignia was a ship’s wheel, while the Signal Quartermaster’s was diagonally crossed flags. And in the first edition of the Coast Guard’s Uniform Regulations, published a little over a year after the Coast Guard was established in 1915, we find that the fledgling service had maintained this bifurcated structure of the Quartermaster position.

But this somewhat confusing system was overhauled in 1920, with Signal Quartermasters being absorbed into the new Signalman (SM) rating and Wheelman Quartermasters becoming simply Quartermasters. As other ratings came and went or were being continually modified, the Quartermaster rating was a constant for over eighty years. In 2003, however, the rating—one of the oldest in U.S. naval history—was merged into the Boatswain’s Mate rating, perhaps in part because Quartermaster was one of the four paths of advancement to the CWO Boatswain specialty.

Navigation and the equipment and records related to it were the primary focus of the Quartermaster’s duties. They prepared and stored nautical charts, maintained navigation instruments, stood watch as assistants to the navigator and officers of the deck, and at times took the wheel to serve as helmsmen; they also served as the Officers in Charge of tugs and patrols boats. With the disestablishment of the Signalman (SM) rating, Quartermasters also became responsible for the sending and receiving of visual messages. (Before its disestablishment, personnel in the SM rating advancing to E6 would be moved to the Quartermaster rating, at which point they were required to qualify in all the QM skills.)

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As a certified manufacturer of uniforms and insignia, The Salute Uniforms considers it a privilege to provide the members of our nation’s military services with superior-quality apparel and accoutrements. We guarantee that every product we offer is made in the USA and meets or surpasses Mil-Spec standards. Browse our online catalog and discover how our tradition of excellence and commitment to innovation makes us your best source for military uniforms, insignias, medals, and accessories.


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