Meet the Navy's 'Swiss army knife': The sailors who keep carriers and other warships running
US Navy/MCS 3rd Class Megan Wollam
- The Navy's machinist's mates keep its warships in fighting shape, maintaining everything from the catapults that launch fighters off carriers to the kitchen equipment that keeps sailors fed.
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The rate of machinist's mate has a long and proud history in the United States Navy. Established in 1880 as finisher, the rate changed names a couple of times before being settled as machinist's mate in 1904.
According to the Navy CyberSpace website on enlisted jobs, "Machinist's mates (non-nuclear) operate, maintain, and repair (organizational and intermediate level) ship propulsion machinery, auxiliary equipment, and outside machinery, such as: steering engine, hoisting machinery, food preparation equipment, refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, windlasses, elevators, and laundry equipment; operate and maintain (organizational and intermediate level) marine boilers, pumps, forced draft blowers, and heat exchangers; perform tests, transfers, and inventory of lubricating oils, fuels, and water; maintain records and reports; and generate and stow industrial gases."
With such a wide array of skills and responsibilities, the machinist's mates in George Washington's engineering department prove the value and versatility of the rate to the ship and to the Navy as a whole.