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Boatswain's Mate

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A boatswain's mate (BM) is the most versatile member of the Coast Guard's operational team, and a master of seamanship. BMs are capable of performing almost any task in connection with deck maintenance, small boat operations, navigation, and supervising all personnel assigned to a ship's deck force or shore unit. BMs are in charge of the newest Coast Guard small boats while conducting search and rescue, aids to navigation, law enforcement and security operations.  BMs operate hoists, cranes, and winches to load cargo or set gangplanks, stand watch for security, navigation, or communications, and have a general knowledge of ropes and cables, including different uses, stresses, strains, and proper stowing.

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 become officers-in-charge of coastal patrol boats, river tenders, harbor tugs, and small shore units including search and rescue stations and aids to navigation teams. BMs utilize their leadership and expertise to perform all missions of the Coast Guard, at sea and on shore.

Training Available:

Training is accomplished through 12 weeks of intensive training at Yorktown, VA or with on-the-job training through a striker program. Once 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 law enforcement including fisheries.


You should have leadership ability, physical strength, good hearing, normal color vision, and a high degree of manual dexterity. School courses taken in algebra, geometry, and shop are helpful. Any experience handling small boats is extremely valuable.