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Navy Won’t Remove ‘Midshipman’ Title Because It’s Enshrined In The Law As A Rank

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Billy Ho/Released)

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Jonah Bennett Contributor
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Navy officials confirmed this week they don’t intend to change the title “midshipman” as part of the overall effort to make job positions in the service gender-neutral.

The goal of the job title review Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus initiated back in January is to make women feel more included now that they have access to all combat roles, but the reason midshipman will remain in its current state is because the name is a rank stipulated by the law, Capital Gazette reports.

According to Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter, the title won’t change, as it’s a rank, noting that officials only scanned the idea of doing so “very briefly.”

Midshipman is an old title dating back to even before the opening of the Naval Academy in 1845.

In late September, the Navy announced that it was ditching historic job titles and revamping the entire system, in effect removing an element that made the Navy unique from other services in the military.

For example, the title of Fire Controlman 1st Class Joe Sailor is now Petty Officer 1st Class Joe Sailor.

“We’re going to immediately do away with rating titles and address each other by just our rank as the other services do,” Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke told Navy Times in September.

“We recognize that’s going to be a large cultural change, it’s not going to happen overnight, but the direction is to start exercising that now.”

Sailors have reacted in a largely negative way. A petition to reverse the change reached 100,000 signatures, prompting the White House to weigh in on the matter, but unsurprisingly, the White House backed the job title system change pioneered by Navy brass.

Navy officials have tried to assuage some of the anger boiling up, but it hasn’t been entirely successful, especially given that Navy leadership gave responsibility for the major change to an official who was about to retire, then-Master Chief Petty Officer Mike Stevens.

Stevens successfully retired before the announcement was even made.

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