“Things have gotten awkward since the Navy abruptly eliminated sailor’s titles.
During a recent underway on the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima, it was apparent that sailors weren’t having an easy time of it. If you ask sailors what they do, invariably they tell you their now non-existent rating. Others say they’re getting in hot water for still using those abbreviated titles, even though they’re the fastest way to refer to sailors (and doesn’t involve remembering dozens of last names).
What’s clear is that sailors still don’t know what exactly to make of the move, which was rolled out in late September with little detail about the larger career implications.
Some sailors said the decision genuinely upset the more senior sailors in the division. One airman who did not want to be identified to share candid views said his second and first classes were particularly distraught.
“It’s a waste,” the airman said. “They feel like it takes away from their accomplishments and their identities that they’ve built over their careers.”
Another junior sailor said he had little patience for all the bellyaching over the dumped ratings.
“It does seem pointless but people just don’t like change,” said the sailor, who also asked to remain anonymous. “In some ways though I like the idea of having greater career flexibility.”
Online the conversation around dumping ratings hasn’t died down. On a Navy forum on the link sharing website Reddit, sailors describe the daily annoyances that the ratings execution has brought.
“Does anyone get annoyed being corrected on addressing Petty Officers, etc. by their old rates?” one Redditor asks, a question that has generated 35 responses to date.
“For instance, I was talking with an officer and without thinking, referred to a Petty officer 1st class as HM1,” Redditor drm4490 continues. “She says, ‘you mean petty officer first class so-and-so?’ I mean, even though she’s technically right, it rubs me the wrong way when they actually correct you. I also just find it way easier to say three syllables.”
One Redditor said he disagreed with the change but would just be happy when it’s one thing or the other.
“I’ve been corrected for using both a generic PO1 X as well as (insert rate here) X. The try-hards are offended by the old and the salty ones are offended by the new,” the commenter said. “I’ll be happy when everyone gets on board or it’s changed back. As nice as it would be to have my rate back, I just want it one way or the other.”
Another sailor said his command has been using the “seaman” and “petty officer” honorifics in formal paperwork but have otherwise ignored the new rules.
“Have yet to see anyone in my command get butt hurt over us calling each other by rate,” the commenter said. “Most of us have put a half-assed attempt at saying Seaman or Petty Officer and mostly use it jokingly. Only our CO, XO, and CMC have put up a real attempt at not using rates. Normally just use SN or PO when writing emails and doing paperwork for formalities.”
One sailor noted that the change is still causing confusion in simple interactions such as telephone calls.”