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ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy has combined the Gunner’s and Torpedoman’s mates ratings, a move that will affect about 3,500 sailors, according to the Navy.

Torpedoman’s Mates maintain torpedoes and other underwater explosives, while Gunner’s Mates are responsible for guided missile launchers, gun mounts and other ordnance. Such weapons are found on frigates, destroyers and cruisers.

Active-duty sailors from E-1 to E-9 will automatically switch to the new rating on Oct. 1, while the merger for Select Reserve and Individual Ready Reserve sailors from E-1 to E-5 will happen on March 1, 2008, according to NAVADMIN 049-07.

The new rating will be called Gunner’s Mate, said Senior Chief Petty Officer Sherry Secrease, of Navy Personnel Command.

A study showed that the training and skill sets for the two ratings are similar and in some cases identical, Secrease said in a Tuesday e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

Since 2006, the training sailors receive after basic training for their ratings has been the same for both Gunner’s and Torpedoman’s mates, Secrease said.

“After seeing the results of the commonality study, it became apparent that this was the right thing to do for the Navy and the sailor,” she said.

As a result of the merger, some sailors might rate a “slightly higher” Selective Reenlistment Bonus than they are now eligible for, Secrease said.

Asked how the merger would affect promotion opportunities, she said: “It is possible that during the first phase of the merger there will be a fluctuation in advancement rates; however, this is normal for any rating merger. After full implementation, we expect advancement opportunities to increase and career paths and training to expand.”

Sailors in the new rating will wear the Gunner’s Mate badge, according to the NAVADMIN. Sailors can still wear their Torpedoman’s Mate badges until their next promotion, or until October 2009.

“The time line was due in part to the First Merged E-7 Board for Active and Selective Reserve sailors,” Secrease said. “In addition, it is [standard operating procedure] to allow those who still qualify (haven’t re-enlisted, or advanced) to wear their original badge until one of these occur.”

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