Navy Brings Back Torpedoman's Mate Rating in Nod to 'Heritage and Pride'

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Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Shawn Branum and Gunner's Mate Seaman William Rivera clean a 25mm chain gun system aboard the USS Cowpens (CG 63) at the forward deployed operating base Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Bryan Reckard)
Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Shawn Branum and Gunner's Mate Seaman William Rivera clean a 25mm chain gun system aboard the USS Cowpens (CG 63) at the forward deployed operating base Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka. (U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Bryan Reckard)

After more than 22 years, the Navy is bringing a historic occupational rating out of retirement.

The service is re-establishing the "torpedoman's mate" rating, according to an announcement Monday. According to a yet-to-be-published Navy administrative message, officials expect the re-establishment of the rating to "renew the heritage and pride of the submarine TM."

The Navy discarded the submarine torpedoman's mate rating in 1995, according to the release; it was merged with the machinist's mate (weapons) rating. The surface torpedoman rating held on for another dozen years before being merged with the gunner's mate rating in 2007.

The initial torpedoman rating dates back to 1921; it was renamed torpedoman's mate in 1942.

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"The Torpedoman's Mate rating was disestablished in 1995 but, based on feedback from the fleet, we are bringing it back," said Capt. Angela Katson, branch head of Enlisted Force Shaping Plans and Policies, in a statement. "In the spirit of heritage, and Sailor 2025 initiatives, we are returning to the use of the original Torpedoman's Mate rating badge."

The job, according to Navy documentation, includes performing maintenance on underwater ordnance; handling torpedoes, missiles and countermeasures launched from subs; operating and maintaining test equipment; launching and firing systems; maintaining stowage facilities for underwater ordnance; maintaining and operating the submarine anchor; and acting as subject-matter experts for force protection aboard subs, among other tasks.

Ratings Badge for a U.S. Navy Torpedoman's Mate. (U.S. Navy via Wikipedia)
Ratings Badge for a U.S. Navy Torpedoman's Mate. (U.S. Navy via Wikipedia)

Officials said the subject of resurrecting the torpedoman's mate rating was raised at an all-hands call with then-Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson in April at Naval Base Kitsap, Washington. He took the information for action, and the Navy began the process of re-naming the machinist's mate (non-nuclear, submarine weapons) rating to torpedoman's mate.

The change will not require any new training, protocols or selection board processes for those in the ranks of chief and above, but it will require a rating badge change, officials said. The badge insignia will be the same as historically used for the rating and discontinued in 1995. It features a silver torpedo, head facing front.

"I think the Navy bringing back the TM rating is going to pay incredible dividends," said Senior Chief Petty Officer Heath Mangrum, the force torpedoman at Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic. "The excitement level amongst the Sailors is through the roof. It's the right time for a change like this to light the fire under our Sailors, and embrace the heritage in the rating."

The rating re-establishment will take effect Oct. 1, according to the Navy message, obtained by Military.com.

"Sailor 2025 focuses on improving the ability of our Navy to develop, reward and retain the force of tomorrow," the message states. "By re-establishing the TM general rating, the Navy is responding directly to feedback from the Fleet, enabling ownership and pride by the Sailors in the rating and strengthening their role in a strong, unified future submarine force."

Mangrum noted in the statement that the significance of the rating name goes beyond connecting with history.

"When the commanding officer is calling for a ready weapons posture, he said, "the TMs make sure all systems are locked, loaded and ready to go."

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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