Navy leaders have changed their mind about their controversial plan to get rid of sailors ratings titles for enlisted sailors, according to a Navy message that was set for release on Wednesday.
The message is a reversal of the decision back in September where service leadership would no longer address sailors by their rating. The ratings system has been a more-than 200 year old tradition where enlisted sailors are known by their job title.
The reversal follows severe backlash from the fleet as the decision was extremely unpopular. The effort to modernize the ratings system was spearheaded by former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael D. Stevens.
In the message, Navy leadership said that they heard the overwhelming criticism and that had a great deal as to why the decision was overturned.
Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, called it a “course correction.”
“We have learned from you, and so effective immediately, all rating names are restored,” Richardson wrote in the message. “The feedback from current and former sailors has been consistent that there is wide support for the flexibility that the plan offers, but the removal of rating titles detracted from accomplishing our major goals.”
The decision to get rid of the ratings system was pushed by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who wanted to create gender-neutral terms for the Marine Corps and the Navy.
The move led to referring to junior enlisted sailors by a generic title and adopt a series of Navy Occupational Specialty codes, similar to the Military Occupational Specialty used by the Army and Marines and the Air Force Specialty Codes system.
Even though the Navy rating system has been restored, the Navy plans to move ahead in its effort to change the personnel system and to create more flexible career paths.
“Our goals for modernizing the enlisted career development program – rating modernization – are to provide greater choice and flexibility for our sailors with respect to detailing and training, to provide greater flexibility for the Navy in assigning highly trained personnel, and to increase professional alignment with civilian employers,” Richardson wrote.
“This course correction doesn’t mean our work is done – rating modernization will continue for all the right reasons,” Richardson wrote. “Modernizing our industrial-age personnel system in order to provide Sailors choice and flexibility still remains a priority for us.”