The Boatswains Mate is the central link of deck careers in the United States Coast Guard. It is considered the Command rating of the Coast Guard, and it is a jack-of-all-trades rate when it comes to shipboard operations. Boatswain’s mates are able to perform all the different jobs and tasks in connection with seamanship, navigation, search and rescue, deck maintenance, and supervising the deck force of a USCG Ship or shore based deck-rating crew. Boatswain’s Mates serve on all shore based duty stations, and they also serve aboard ships of every shape and size in the Coast Guard Fleet.
The United States Coast Guard has gone through a lot in the last ten years. It has morphed into a seagoing service that now answers to the Department of Homeland Security since around the time of September 11th, 2001. Their history and tradition of service is a long and proud one, and one of the main stalwart blocks of the Coast Guard is the Boatswains Mate Rating.
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A person who becomes a Boatswain’s mate has to have an expert knowledge of the various deck and seamanship tasks that are required on board ship. They have to know about winches, ropes, lines, hoists, cranes, and how to deal with cables and splicing, among other items. They know and are experts in different knots and when and how to use them, how to seize and splice line, cable and hawser, and other line handling tasks. The knowledge of line handling is an art in itself and a Boatswains Mate has to know the times and specifications of different lanyard, line and hawser.
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Boatswains mates, while an enlisted rating will often be the Officer in charge of many different small boats, patrol boats, tugs, and shore units. Boatswains mate candidates must possess normal hearing and vision and they cannot be colorblind. They have to have intelligence, physical strength and leadership ability. Boatswains mates are responsible to supervise the sailors and deck force under their charge.
Boatswains Mates are trained at Yorktown, Virginia at the Petty Officer Class A school, at the Coast Guard Base there. It is possible to be advanced through striking or on the job training. Advanced training programs for small boat coxswains and Buoy Deck Supervisor, Law Enforcement, and Heavy Weather Coxswains is also available.
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