The United States Coast Guard has undergone many changes in the last decade. The Coast Guard is the oldest continuously seagoing service, as the Navy was disbanded for a short time soon after it was first formed. The long history and tradition of the United States Coast Guard is a proud one. One of the foundational blocks of the Coast Guard is the Boatswain’s Mate rating.
The Boatswain’s Mate is a linchpin of the service because he is a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to shipboard operations. BM’s are able to perform all the tasks in connection with small boat operations, deck maintenance, seamanship, navigation, search and rescue, and supervising personnel assigned to the deck force of a ship. Boatswain Mates serve on all shore based duty stations, and aboard ships of every size and shape that are found in the Coast Guard Service.
The Boatswains Mate rating is one that has an expert knowledge of the various seamanship and deck tasks on board ship. They have knowledge of hoists, winches, cranes, and how to use cables ropes and other items. They know how and when to use knots, how to splice and seize line. Line handling is an art in itself, and a Boatswains Mate has to know the specifications and times to use different procedures in dealing with line, lanyards, and hawser.
Boatswains Mates directly supervise the deck force, and they stand watches for navigation, communications, and security watches. Boatswains mate is most often the Coxswain (or small boat captain) of a three-man small boat crew. In addition in many cases the Boatswains Mate will be the Federal Law Officer in charge of various situations that the Coast Guard Mission calls for. This can include drug interdiction, search and rescue, aids to navigation, and other missions.
Boatswains Mates, while an enlisted rating, will be assigned as the officer-in-charge of many different small craft, patrol boats, tugs, and shore units. Boatswains Mate candidates must possess normal vision, not be colorblind, and have physical strength, intelligence, leadership ability and a good deal of manual dexterity. Boatswains Mates are trained in Yorktown Virginia at the Petty Officer Boatswains Mate School, or can be advanced through on the job training in a striker program. Advanced training for the Boatswains Mate Rating in programs such as Buoy Deck Supervisor, Coxswain, Law Enforcement Fisheries, and Heavy Weather Coxswain are also available.