Over the course of the next year, the Navy will disestablish the signalman rating, and instead will mesh the duties with those now performed by the quartermaster, according to a Navy press release.

Signalmen are those who communicate between ships, typically using semaphore or lights. Quartermasters are crewmembers who chart the ship’s location.

An estimated 10 percent of the SM-rated sailors will be able to convert to QM, while the remaining will be given the opportunity to convert into other ratings, the release states.

All SM-rated personnel need to submit rating conversion requests by Jan. 31. Conversions should be submitted per MILPERSMAN 1440-010. Since SM is a Perform To Serve rating, all first-term signalmen must submit conversion-rating preferences as part of PTS applications. Perform to Serve, usually simply referred to as PTS, is the Navy’s program aimed at easing crowded rates by encouraging sailors to transfer and re-enlist into undermanned jobs.

Signalmen who are not converted into another rating will be permitted to serve until their end of active obligated service. All EAOS and Projected Rotation Date (PRD) requirements are waived to facilitate expeditious conversion.

The schedule for SM advancement exams and selection boards over the next year is as follows:

January: final active-duty E-7 exam

February: final Reserve E-7 exam

March: final E-8/E-9 selection board

May: final Reserve E-7 selection board

July: final active E-7 selection board

August: final Reserve E-4, E-5 and E-6 exams

September: final active E-4, E-5 and E-6 exams

Before World War II, quartermasters performed duties now done by signalmen. Technology today has usurped their utility.

“Advances in technology have enabled ships to communicate far more effectively today through a variety of methods and permitted those ships to operate at sea with fewer personnel,” Vice Adm. Gerry Hoewing, chief of Naval Personnel, said in the release. “As we transform our Navy through the Fleet Response Plan into a more lethal, surge-ready force, we must find ways to capture these advances to improve combat effectiveness.”

More information is in the Naval Administration message, or NAVADMIN, 289/03, and on the Web at

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