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Boatswain's Mate

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The Boatswain’s Mate (BM) rating sits at the operational core of every Coast Guard mission. BMs are the service’s experts in all aspects of deck seamanship and navigation.  Because of their expertise, few things happen at sea without a BM involved in, or in charge of, the evolution. BMs gain a brand of experience where which its depth and breadth avails itself to universal applicably. The technical skills of operating systems and navigating both cutter and boat force units resides in the regular training and daily scope of a BM’s responsibility. With their team of crew members, a BM is required to answer all types of unique and demanding challenges. BMs accomplish this by using his or her Coast Guard provided top notch nautical and professional law enforcement education to solve all types of extraordinary problems.  BMs need to apply thoughtful risk assessment to their presented conditions and respond quickly using the safest and most effective course of action available.  Daily intrigue and full-time excitement await those who choose a career as a Boatswain’s Mate.

Types of Duty:

BMs can be found in nearly every duty station available throughout the United States and various locations overseas. They serve on every Coast Guard cutter, from harbor tugs to the newest National Security Cutter. Additionally, in many assignments BMs will act as federal law enforcement officers. BMs have the unique ability to be in command of coastal patrol boats, river tenders, harbor tugs, and small shore units including search and rescue stations and aids to navigation teams. These assignments, regardless of the stage of a BMs career, each require the responsibility for the safe completion of missions and the care of the personnel they are supervising. BMs utilize their leadership and expertise to perform all missions of the Coast Guard, at sea and on shore.

Law Enforcement:

BMs can expect to be assigned challenging duties including traditional maritime law enforcement, anti-terrorism, force protection, port security and safety, as well as providing unit-level training in these fields. Commonly held qualifications include but are not limited to:

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Training Available:

Training is accomplished through 14 weeks of intensive training at Yorktown, Va. Once initial training is completed, BMs may go on to advanced training such as coxswain, heavy weather coxswain, tactical coxswain, aids to navigation basic and advanced, buoy deck supervisor, command cadre school, and various law enforcement schools.


A prospective Boatswain’s Mate should have high caliber leadership qualities, physical strength, good hearing, normal color vision, a high degree of manual dexterity, all while demonstrating an aptitude to apply learned skills to new situations.

Possible Skill links:

  • Military Operations
  • Operational Planning
  • Emergency Management
  • National Security
  • Command
  • Homeland Security
  • Force Protection
  • Military Training
  • Counterterrorism
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Leadership Development
  • Staff Development
  • Skills Instruction
  • Interagency Coordination
  • Military Experience
  • Security Clearance
  • Critical Thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Human Resources and Asset Management Software User
  • Coaching
  • Task Delegation
  • Project Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Public Relations
  • Adaptability
  • Collaboration
  • People Management