U.S. Navy Aviation Boatswain's Mates play a major part in launching and recovering naval aircraft quickly and safely from land or ships. This includes aircraft fueling and fuel systems. Later in their careers, ABs can earn the advanced AB rating that requires supervision of all three individual specialties.
Duties of Navy Aviation Boatswain's Mates
The sailors who are part of the AB fuels role are responsible for operating, maintaining and performing organizational maintenance on aviation fueling and lubricating oil systems. They observe and enforce safety precautions and maintain fuel quality surveillance and control when handling aviation fuel systems. They also supervise the operation and servicing of fuel farms and equipment associated with the fueling and de-fueling of aircraft ashore and afloat.
In addition, they train and supervise Navy firefighting crews, and offer assistance when necessary to fire rescue teams and damage control parties.
Most of the work in this rating is performed outdoors, often on the decks of aircraft carriers, in all climates and conditions, in fast-paced and often potentially hazardous environments. ABs work closely with others in aviation ratings.
This is a job that requires the ability to work under pressure and good manual dexterity. Safety measures must be followed closely, so attention to detail is important. A lot of the work is repetitive, so those who can concentrate for long periods will do well in this job.
Training and Qualifying as a Boatswain's Mate
To be eligible for this job, a candidate needs a combined score of 184 on the verbal, arithmetic, mechanical knowledge and auto and shop segments of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) tests.
There is no Department of Defense security clearance required for this job. But, you'll need a vision of 20/100 correctable to 20/20, normal color perception and normal range hearing.
After basic training, these sailors will spend 36 days in "A" school, or technical school in Pensacola, Florida for roughly five weeks, where they'll learn basic aviation skills and theory and the specific skills they'll need for handling fuel and other equipment.
Following basic and "A" school, boatswain's mates may be assigned to aircraft carriers, any number of amphibious assault ships, or to a Naval Air Station. It's also possible they could be assigned to other types of ships that transport planes or helicopters.
Sea/Shore Rotation for This Rating
- First Sea Tour: 60 months
- First Shore Tour: 36 months
- Second Sea Tour: 60 months
- Second Shore Tour: 36 months
- Third Sea Tour: 48 months
- Third Shore Tour: 36 months
- Fourth Sea Tour: 48 months
- Fourth Shore Tour: 36 months
Sea tours and shore tours for sailors who have completed four sea tours will be 36 months at sea followed by 36 months ashore until retirement.
ABF is a sea-intensive community. Manning conditions at sea may require the need to request sea tour extension or shore tour curtailments to ensure all sea duty billets are filled. As of 2017, the outlook for placement in boatswain's jobs was good, and about 11,000 men and women were in one of the three boatswain specialties.