What Does it Take To Be a U.S. Navy Quartermaster (QM)?

Navy Enlisted Rating (Job) Descriptions and Qualification Factors

Navy quartermaster checks navigation chart aboard USS Essex. SASEBO, Japan (April 14, 2011) Quartermaster 3rd Class Elvis Gomez, right, checks a navigation chart while Quartermaster 2nd Class Kevin Bell makes a log entry on the bridge of the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2). Essex is returning to Sasebo after completing a three-month patrol of the western Pacific Ocean.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark R. Alvarez/Released

Much of this information is courtesy of the Navy Personnel Command.

U.S. Navy Quartermasters (QMs) are experts in navigation. They stand watch as assistants to officers of the deck and the navigator. They also serve as helmsman and perform ship control, navigation and bridge watch duties.

But that's not all they do.

In addition, QMs procure, correct, use and stow navigational and oceanographic publications and oceanographic charts.

They also maintain navigational instruments and keep correct navigational time, render "honors and ceremonies" in accordance with national observance and foreign customs and send and receive visual messages. Qms also serve as petty officers in charge of tugs, self-propelled barges and other yard and district craft.

QM Job Duties

The duties performed by QMs include:

  • Conducting weather observations.
  • Determining compass and gyro error.
  • Computing tide and tidal current data.
  • Keeping logs and records; determine their ship's position by visual and electronic means.
  • Computing times of sunrise and sunset.
  • Following the nautical rules-of-the-road to prevent collisions at sea.

Working Environment

After "A" school, USN Quartermasters are assigned to all types of ships. Full Time Support (FTS) QMs are assigned to Navy Reserve Force (NRF) ships in the Continental United States (CONUS). Upon completion of sea tours, FTS QMs will be assigned to reserve centers across the country including the heartland.

While assigned to reserve centers FTS QMs will train and administer Selected Reserve Personnel. During a 20-year period in the Navy, QMs spend about 60 percent of their time assigned to fleet units and 40 percent to shore stations.

A-School (Job School) Information

  • Great Lakes, IL -- 40 calendar days

Other Requirements

Sub-Specialties Available for This Rating: Navy Enlisted Classification Codes for QM

Current Manning Levels for This Rating: CREO Listing

Note: Advancement ( promotion ) opportunity and career progression are directly linked to a rating's manning level (i.e., personnel in undermanned ratings have greater promotion opportunity than those in overmanned ratings).

Sea/Shore Rotation for This Rating

  • First Sea Tour: 60 months
  • First Shore Tour: 36 months
  • Second Sea Tour: 48 months
  • Second Shore Tour:36 months
  • Third Sea Tour: 48 months
  • Third Shore Tour: 36 months
  • Fourth Sea Tour: 36 months
  • Forth Shore Tour: 36 months

Note: Sea tours and shore tours for sailors that have completed four sea tours will be 36 months at sea followed by 36 months ashore until retirement.

Advancement

U.S. Navy Enlistees enter the Navy as E-1s (seaman recruits). They then advance to E-2 or a seaman apprentice. This advancement may be achieved after nine months of naval service, with advancement to E-3 (seaman) after another nine months. These Sailors are eligible for re-enlistment bonuses at the time of re-enlistment.

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