US Navy restores rating titles after waves of criticism

The U.S. Navy officially announced December 21 that its sailors may, once again, be addressed by their rating titles that were previously scrapped. 

By doing so, the navy reversed its controversial decision from September which said that sailors would no longer be addressed by their rating but by generic titles, Seaman or Petty Officer.

John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said the decision was made after the service talked to thousands of sailors who voiced their opposition to the change.

“Our Navy needs to be a fast-learning organization – that includes Navy leadership,” Richardson wrote in the NAVADMIN. “The Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority states that our most junior teammate may have the best idea and that we must be open to capturing that idea. We have learned from you, and so effective immediately, all rating names are restored.”

The announcement further said that navy leadership in charge of the rating modernization would continue to work on the substantive portion of the rating moderation effort.

“As we looked at rating modernization effort over the past few months, we saw that we could still achieve the positive results we want without changing rating titles right now,” said the Navy’s Chief of Personnel Vice Adm. Robert Burke.

“However, modernizing our industrial-age personnel system in order to provide Sailors choice and flexibility still remains a priority for us. Our personnel system has not fundamentally changed since the 1970s, and just like our ships, aircraft and weapons systems, it needs updates to keep pace with a rapidly changing world. We must not shy away from adapting to meet the needs of a 21st century Navy — including the way we manage our people.”

“As we move forward into the execution stages of the rating modernization, more and more Sailors will have multiple occupational skill sets or ratings,” Burke continued. “Before we get there, we will need to tackle the issue of managing rating names. We will involve Sailors throughout the Fleet and leverage the Rating Modernization working group to figure out how to best do that.”


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