Sailors Challenge Navy Over Decision To Strip ‘Man’ From Job Titles

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson met with an audience of 1,400 sailors recently to smooth over residual anger after the Navy decided to remove “man” from titles.

“What we’ve come up with is a plan for you to be certified in multiple ratings that — Navy Occupational Specialities,” Richardson said, according to Navy Times. “This buys you a tremendous amount of flexibility, not only in assignments, but in advancement. This will give you the opportunity to advance in more than one specialty.”

The change effectively enforces gender-neutrality standards, which is in line with a mandate from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, and removes “man” from job titles in a roundabout way. By overhauling the full occupational system rather than replacing particular titles, the Navy can dodge difficulties making certain job titles such as “yeoman” gender-neutral.

One sailor complained about being switched from a boatswain’s mate to a generic title like Petty Officer 2nd Class, although she said she would give the changes a chance.

“It is very disappointing to me to not be a boatswain’s mate anymore,” Petty Officer 2nd Class (SW/AW) Amanda Svenson said. “It’s traditional and we’re very proud of what we do and frankly, I’ll always be a boatswain’s mate and I won’t be afraid to call someone ‘Boats,’ either.”

In reaction to news of the CNO’s Thursday meeting, other sailors also expressed disappointment.

“This is a sad day for the navy … I was contemplating getting out but now I’m 100% sure…this is not for me,” one sailor said.

“When you worry about gender identity/sexist perceived views (the ‘man’ at the end of many rating titles) you come up with this kind of BS,” another sailor added. “…I think the sociological experimentation that messes with long-held tradition crosses the line.”

As a result of the changes, the job title for Fire Controlman 1st Class Joe Sailor, for example, will now be changed to Petty Officer 1st Class Joe Sailor. USNI News notes that Machinist’ Mate 1st Class Jake Holman would be Petty Officer 1st Class Holman. A sailor’s actual job will be listed in their personnel file under a specific Occupational Specialty Code, much like the Military Occupational Specialty the Army uses.

This new job classification system will put the Navy in alignment with the Air Force, Marine Corps and Army.

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