Composition of the crew of a US Navy fleet Submarine

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schutzearsch
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Composition of the crew of a US Navy fleet Submarine

Post by schutzearsch » 15 Nov 2020 22:19

I was wondering how the crew of an Fleet Sabmarine (especially the Tambor, Gato and Balao class subs) compiled?

I have a relatively good Idea how the crew of a german submarine was compiled
a standard type VII had

4 officer
Captain
LI (Chief Engineer)
1WO and 2WO (1st and 2nd watch officer)

4 Chiefs
1 Obersteuermann (Chief helmsman usualy the most experienced and highest ranking NCO on the boat serving as 3rd watch officer)
1 Bootsmann (Boatswain)
2 Machinists (1 for the Diesel and 1 for the Electric Engines)

10 Petty Officers
2 Bootsmansmaate (Boatswains mates)
2 Funkmaate (Radio/sonar/radar operators often one is also trained as a medic)
5 Machinenmaate (machnisit mates)
1 Torpedomechankermate

25 enlisted men
9 Matrosen (seaman refered to as Laufbahn I by the Kriegsmarine)
11 Maschinengasten (machinsits or Laufbahn II)
2 Funkgasten (radio/sonar/radar operators)
2 Torpedogasten (torpedo mechanics)
1 smut (chef or i think it's called a mess steward in the navy jargon)

of course there are a lot variations here

there could be a 5th officer an board a war correspondent or a Commandant or Chief Engineer in Training) later in the war it seems some boats had a doctor on board.

Some times one of the radio operators was also a chief (Portepee Unteroffizier) in german could be part of the crew or an officer candidate in the rank of fähnrich or more likely oberfähnrich who in the command structure would have the authority of a Bootsmann or Oberbootsmann but without the experience.

The Type VII is of course much smaller compared to the Gato and Balao boats, but the Type IX (especially the Type IXD2) and the Type X are more comparable in size and have a crew of 57 resp. 52 men which compares more to the US Fleet Subs.

It should also be noted that there are quite some differences between the german and the us rank system.

But I realy wonder how the US crews look like.

Only thing I could find online is that the Tambor and Gato calss submarines had a Crew of 60 6 officers and 54 other ranks and that during the war additional crew members where added (usually to operate new equipment like radar or additinal anti aircraft guns). The Balao Class boats had up to 10 officers and 70 to 71 other ranks and it seems that the Gato boats had about the same crew size in 1944.

So how was that crew compiled?

Obvously

1 Captain
1 XO
1 Chief Engineer?
2-3 other watch officers?
1 sonar officer?

I know there was the so called COB the Chief of the Boat

How many Chiefs where on board?
How many Petty Officers?
How many Seaman?

Thank you for your Help guys! :)

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R Leonard
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Re: Composition of the crew of a US Navy fleet Submarine

Post by R Leonard » 16 Nov 2020 19:07

For example USS Balao 10th war cruise, July 1945

Worthington, Robert K R, LCDR (CO)
Shonerd, William A, LT (XO)
Wills, James K, LT
Jones, James R, LTJG
Balcken, Walter H, LTJG
Bostrom, Earl E, LTJG
Saska, Stanley D, LTJG
Flack, Ralph F, LTJG
Grayson, Allan M Jr, LTJG
Hannifin, Patrick J, ENS
Dyba, Rudolph P, CMoMM (COB)
Powderly, James H, CMoMM
Holmes, John R, CEM
Hurtt, Keevan M Jr, CGM
Wooley, William H, CEM
Iverson, Wallace M, Bkr3c
Jones, Billy C, EM1c
Roberts, Joseph E, EM1c
Powell, Wayne R, EM2c
Appel, Donald R, EM3c
Librizzi, Joseph J, EM3c
Little, James R, EM3c
Worthy, Zema F Jr, EM3c
Craig, John C, F1c
Curry, Thomas W, F1c
Eschbach, Charles R, F1c
Foster, Ted B, F1c
Leidendecker, Robert L, F1c
Napolitano, Felice, F1c
Raycraft, George W, F1c
Sychowski, Elmer J, F1c
Cox, Fielden L, FCS1c
Meyer, Ralph H, FCS3c
LaMorte, Anthony P, GM2c
Lee, John W, GM2c
Decker, Lyndon H, MMS3c
Haley, Ralph M, MoMM1c
Loikitz, Frank F, MoMM1c
McKinney, Samuel W, MoMM1c
Murphy, Virgil A, MoMM1c
Nichols, William F, MoMM1c
Strom, Norman P, MoMM1c
Beasley, Wallace W, MoMM2c
Groff, Billy D, MoMM2c
Latham, Carl A, MoMM2c
Maggart, Vernon O Jr, MoMM2c
Scheiming, Walter D, MoMM2c
White, George F Jr, MoMM2c
Chase, Preston M, MoMM3c
Hartley, Allen G, MoMM3c
Hyde, Oren N, MoMM3c
Kirstein, Willmar E, MoMM3c
Kennedy, Cyril M, PhM1c
Cahillane, Thomas E, QM2c
O'Gorman, Columbo, QM2c
Frederick, Robert E, QM3c
Jacques, Robert W W, RdM2c
MacArthur, Gilbert D, RM1c
Allan, Ray A Jr, RM2c
Hiltbrand, David J, RM3c
Pinkerton, John T, RM3c
Fong, Billy W, RT1c
Lemon, Roger I, RT1c
Bowman, Lawrence T, RT3c
Eldredge, Don E, S1c
Harris, Harry E, S1c
Hill, Arthur H, S1c
Mastello, Arnold P, S1c
Pierce, Newton K, S1c
Shadle, John A, S1c
Steinberg, Sumner D, S1c
Blair, D W, SC2c
Eishner, Joseph H, SC2c
Mayes, Virgil C, SC3c
Carper, Delbert R, SM3c
Iceland, Emanuel C, Sp(P)1c
Cooper, Charlie , StM1c
McLeroy, Inman, StM1c
Johnson, Roy A, TM1c
McCord, James D, TM1c
Thomas, Kenneth F, TM1c
Besanson, Meno H, TM2c
Seay, James J, TM2c
St Denny, Ralph B, TM2c
Higby, Jack L, TM3c
Kennedy, Roy Jr, TM3c
Kools, Jack B, TM3c
Stafford, Charles C, TM3c
Huff, John R, Y1c

schutzearsch
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Re: Composition of the crew of a US Navy fleet Submarine

Post by schutzearsch » 17 Nov 2020 21:18

Hello R. Leonard

First thank you for your post this realy helps me quite a lot!

I have some further quetions.

I broke this Crew list down

And the Crew compsoed of

10 Officers
5 Chiefs
57 Petty Officers
17 Sailors

Thats a crew of 89 men

A German Type IXA
Had
4 Officers
5-6 Chiefs
9-10 Petty Officers
29 Sailors

48 men But later in the War 43/44 those boats had up to 60 men but most if not all of these extra 12 men where probably Sailors which where needed as ammunition handlers for the Extra Anti Aircraft Guns carried.

When you think that both boats had about the same size and range 60 to 89 men is quite a difference.
But I've once heard that on US Submarines (or at least fleet subs) it was worked in a 3 shifts rotation while on German submarines it was worked in a 2 shift rotation. Which also makes sense sciente there wasn't a big mess room like on surface ships when you think about that on US subs almost everyone hat it's extra bunk while on german subs almost everyone shared a bunk this kinda makes sense.

Does anyone know that this is true? That they worked 3 shifts on US submarines?


What I find realy interssting is the high numbers of Petty Officers espeically compared to the Sailors especially scince when you compare it with the composition of the crew of german WW 2 submarines it's kinda the other way around the ration Petty Officers (Maate) to Sailors (Matrosen) was like 1 - 2.5 on German submarines but it's almost 3 - 1 on US fleet Submarines. But I have no idea who it was on British, Japanese or Italian Submarines.

Maybe someone can help?

Now some more specific questions about the Crew.

Is there any possibility to finde out the branch of the Officers?
Where there all Line Officers?

Or was there one or maybe two Officers of the Civil Engineer Corps?

Maybe this comes from my german perspective on this topic where every boat had the Chief Engineer who was a Civil Engineer with a Degree and was basically the Commander of all technical personal (so engine room crew and electricions) on board while the Captain was the Commander of all military (seaman and weapons) personal on board. The CE and the CO could hold the same Rank or at least in theory the CE could even hold an higher rank but still would be subordinate to the Captain in military matters.

Did such a position exist on US submarines? Or was this Postion held by a Chief?

What did the Officers do?
I Mean CO is clear and XO is clear.
But what did the other 8 do? Was there something like a classification
Like one Officer was the Sonar and Radar Officers.
One was in Command of all Gun Crews etc.?

Next Question

27 Members of the Crew where part of the Engine Room Force: 2 Chiefs 17 POs and 8 Firemen
2 Chiefs
16 Motor Machinist’s Mates
1 Machinists Mate Shop Machinist Here is my Question what does a what did a Shop Machinist do? Waht is his Job? What qualifications does he have that the others don't?
8 Firemen

Seaman Branch and Artificer Branch
There are 1 Chief and 18 POs in the Seaman Branch and 2 Chiefs and 15 POs in the Artificer Branch. There are also 7 Seaman part of the Crew unfortunately science in both branches they're both called Seaman 2nd and 1st class there is no way off telling how many Seaman where part of the Seaman branch and how many of the Artificer Branch.
Based on my Knowledge the the ration between Seaman and Engine Room Force on German submarines was about the same size with Engine Room Force being slightly larger I'm guessing here making the asumtion that the 7 Seaman where in fact part of the Seaman branch.

Is this right? Or Wrong?
This Means

Seaman Branch:26 men 1 Chief 18 POs 7 Seaman
1 Chief (Chief Gunners Mate)
10 Torpedomans Mates (I guess I figured out what they where doing)
3 Quartermaster Mates (I guess their Job was in the Command Room but what exactly did they do?)
2 Fire Controlman Mates (I'd guess these operated the TDC?)
2 Gunners Mates (self explanatory)
1 Signalman (Did he do what I think he did? Giving Signals with headlights and maybe flags to other ships, what did he do when he didn't do that? Help in the Command Room or where ever help was needed?)
7 Seaman (I guess the did woerk whereever they where needed? Loading Torpedos, Handling Ammunitons of the 5 inch, Bofors and Oerlikon Guns, probably manning the 50 cal? and lots of other stuff?)


Artificer Branch: 17 Men 2 Chiefs 15 POs
2 Chief Electricians Mates (Had they like one secial job or where they responsible for everything electronic on the ship?)
7 Electricians Mates (Basically the same question where they basically the Ships Electricians or where like 5 of them Resposible for the Electric Engines and thus where basically part of the Engine Room Crew and 2 of them where responsible for the Radar, Radio, TDC etc.)
4 Radioman (I think I've figured that one out)
3 Radio Technicans (Where they for like keep the Radio working)
1 Radarman (I hope he wasn't the only one who operated the Radar but the probably was the one who was the Expert for it and maybe showed the Radio Technicans or Elecricians how to use it?)

Waht realy kinda surprised me was that there was no Sonarman part of the Crew.
I guess the guys operating the sogar where part of these 17 men?

Special Branch or Specialist 3
1 Pharmacsists Mate (Well this is basically a gloryfied Hopsital Corpsman or maybe it's the other way around (kidding) it's obvious what this guys job ist of course hes not just a combat medic on a submarien you wanna be sure that no one gets the shingles while you're on patrol.)
1 Yeoman (was this like a scribe? Like the guy who wrote like the war diary the captains log? Like the Captain told him what to write and he wrote it?)
1 Photographic Specialist (was this a photographer? Was this a permanent position on the sub or was he more like a war correspondent for one patrol?)

Commisarry and Messman Branch:
3 Cooks (yeah they cooked food)
1 Baker (did he bake? Like bread and maybe even cake I know the German Type XIV Submarines (called Milchkuh) had the ability to bake bread while underway to resupply other submarines so this shouldn't come as a big surprise but I was kinda surpised I had to say)
2 Steward Mates (They probably helped the Cooks and Bakers to prepare food and served it?)

Did these 6 men serve an other duty? Like ammunition handlers for AA guns?
Did they wear a Cooks and Messman Uniform like the ones on Surface Vessels?

Knowing the US Armed Forces in WW2 where segregated and knowing that black people where used as Cooks and Stewards on surface vessels (though I don't know if this was really always the case of if that is like a clichee that is over used in movies because in WW2 movies it seems every Cook and Mess Steward in the Navy was black. Where there black Cooks and Messmates on Submarines or was Submarine Forces like "Naw that's probaly not a good idead'


Thank you for youer help and answers in advance!

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Re: Composition of the crew of a US Navy fleet Submarine

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 18 Nov 2020 18:56

schutzearsch wrote:
17 Nov 2020 21:18
... Or was there one or maybe two Officers of the Civil Engineer Corps?

Maybe this comes from my german perspective on this topic where every boat had the Chief Engineer who was a Civil Engineer with a Degree and was basically the Commander of all technical personal (so engine room crew and electricions) on board while the Captain was the Commander of all military (seaman and weapons) personal on board. The CE and the CO could hold the same Rank or at least in theory the CE could even hold an higher rank but still would be subordinate to the Captain in military matters.
Not the way your description implies. In the US the school degree would be Mechanical Engineer. That education covers the engineering of machines. A Civil Engineering education has to do with structures, roads & buildings are two examples. The USN preferred those with ME education for engineering specialties on the ships & boats.
schutzearsch wrote:
17 Nov 2020 21:18
.
Special Branch or Specialist 3
1 Pharmacsists Mate (Well this is basically a gloryfied Hopsital Corpsman or maybe it's the other way around (kidding) it's obvious what this guys job ist of course hes not just a combat medic on a submarien you wanna be sure that no one gets the shingles while you're on patrol.)
1 Yeoman (was this like a scribe? Like the guy who wrote like the war diary the captains log? Like the Captain told him what to write and he wrote it?)
And BAR gunner. I met a Yeoman on a submarine who was given a Browning Automatic Rifle. The torpedo were ineffective vs small coastal freighters. So those were attacked with surface weapons. When the submarine surfaced adjacent to the target Yeoman Montgomery was first out the hatch, & would fire bursts from the BAR into the targets wheelhouse. About the time his magazine was empty the gunners would have the Browning HMGs set up and firing. Otherwise the Yeomen were responsible for most records. Personnel records, blank forms for dockyard use. The gunners & engineers had responsibilities for their specialty records/logbooks but most of the paper was a Yeomans work.
1 Photographic Specialist (was this a photographer? Was this a permanent position on the sub or was he more like a war correspondent for one patrol?)
Cameras were frequently used to photograph enemy ships ect... those were desired by the intelligence analysts. So a photographer was needed. This was often a secondary duty for one of the others. The Yeoman would be a good candidate.

[/quote]Commisarry and Messman Branch:
3 Cooks (yeah they cooked food)
1 Baker (did he bake? Like bread and maybe even cake I know the German Type XIV Submarines (called Milchkuh) had the ability to bake bread while underway to resupply other submarines so this shouldn't come as a big surprise but I was kinda surpised I had to say)
2 Steward Mates (They probably helped the Cooks and Bakers to prepare food and served it?)

Did these 6 men serve an other duty? Like ammunition handlers for AA guns?[/quote]

Yes. most of the crew had secondary assignments. Thats very common in the US military. As a artillery battalion or regiment intelligence officer I was both a staff officer at the CP, & simultaneously the chemical warfare officer in charge of a field section. In a rifle unit I was both the staff intelligence officer, OIC of the reconnaissance section, and they were also the chemical defense section.
Often TO line numbers are filled by a Officer of enlisted filling several lines. If the task demands full time attention then a officer will be made available to take that task only.

Note how this double duty for crew members can reduce the actual number of men aboard by X%

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Re: Composition of the crew of a US Navy fleet Submarine

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 18 Nov 2020 19:06

schutzearsch wrote:
17 Nov 2020 21:18
...Knowing the US Armed Forces in WW2 where segregated and knowing that black people where used as Cooks and Stewards on surface vessels (though I don't know if this was really always the case of if that is like a clichee that is over used in movies because in WW2 movies it seems every Cook and Mess Steward in the Navy was black. Where there black Cooks and Messmates on Submarines or was Submarine Forces like "Naw that's probaly not a good idead'
Yes, but again note the double tasking. Mess stewards could also be on the damage control teams, or manning weapons during combat.

Ammunition depots and logistics units were often manned by Black service members. The automotive transport companies of the Army were frequently Black, tho Hollywood depicted the Red Ball Express as entirely white.

schutzearsch
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Re: Composition of the crew of a US Navy fleet Submarine

Post by schutzearsch » 18 Nov 2020 20:27

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
18 Nov 2020 18:56
schutzearsch wrote:
17 Nov 2020 21:18
... Or was there one or maybe two Officers of the Civil Engineer Corps?

Maybe this comes from my german perspective on this topic where every boat had the Chief Engineer who was a Civil Engineer with a Degree and was basically the Commander of all technical personal (so engine room crew and electricions) on board while the Captain was the Commander of all military (seaman and weapons) personal on board. The CE and the CO could hold the same Rank or at least in theory the CE could even hold an higher rank but still would be subordinate to the Captain in military matters.
Not the way your description implies. In the US the school degree would be Mechanical Engineer. That education covers the engineering of machines. A Civil Engineering education has to do with structures, roads & buildings are two examples. The USN preferred those with ME education for engineering specialties on the ships & boats.
Oh OK; my mistake. Of course it's a Mechanical Engineer what I meant was that the Chief Engineer was a person that studient (Mechnical) Engineering usually at a civilian university.
So the officer was a person on board of a Submarine responsile for the engineering specialities was an Officer with an ME education but he was an officer of the line scienve officers of the civil engineers corps where specialist in building structures.
Got it.
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
18 Nov 2020 18:56
schutzearsch wrote:
17 Nov 2020 21:18
.
Special Branch or Specialist 3
1 Pharmacsists Mate (Well this is basically a gloryfied Hopsital Corpsman or maybe it's the other way around (kidding) it's obvious what this guys job ist of course hes not just a combat medic on a submarien you wanna be sure that no one gets the shingles while you're on patrol.)
1 Yeoman (was this like a scribe? Like the guy who wrote like the war diary the captains log? Like the Captain told him what to write and he wrote it?)
And BAR gunner. I met a Yeoman on a submarine who was given a Browning Automatic Rifle. The torpedo were ineffective vs small coastal freighters. So those were attacked with surface weapons. When the submarine surfaced adjacent to the target Yeoman Montgomery was first out the hatch, & would fire bursts from the BAR into the targets wheelhouse. About the time his magazine was empty the gunners would have the Browning HMGs set up and firing. Otherwise the Yeomen were responsible for most records. Personnel records, blank forms for dockyard use. The gunners & engineers had responsibilities for their specialty records/logbooks but most of the paper was a Yeomans work.
Wow, that's realy interssting.I didn't realize that fleet Submarines had a BAR on board.
I figured they had some small Arms, I knew that had some .50 cal and/or .30 machine guns and I figured they'd have some small arms.
Like German U Boats usually carried 2 machine guns (usually MG34) in the conning tower and usually 4-6 MP38/40 smgs and an equal or slightly larger number of pistols. So I thought they might have some submachine guns (I know early in the war the US received a mixture of all kinds Thompson, Reising etc.) I figrued they had some pistols and maybe a few Springfield M1903 at the beginning of the war and during the later war probably a mix of Thompson SMGs and M1 carbines (It seems an M1 would be a pretty efficnet weapon in case you get boarded) but I never thought they had a BAR on board. Was the BAR like the machine guns kept in the conning tower?

What about other small arms on board?

Science on ships small arms are usually locked up and only are issued when needed. Would it be the reasonable assumbtion the either the COB or the Yeoman would be the Person hlolding the key to the weapons locker?
1 Photographic Specialist (was this a photographer? Was this a permanent position on the sub or was he more like a war correspondent for one patrol?)
Cameras were frequently used to photograph enemy ships ect... those were desired by the intelligence analysts. So a photographer was needed. This was often a secondary duty for one of the others. The Yeoman would be a good candidate.
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
18 Nov 2020 19:06
schutzearsch wrote:
17 Nov 2020 21:18
...Knowing the US Armed Forces in WW2 where segregated and knowing that black people where used as Cooks and Stewards on surface vessels (though I don't know if this was really always the case of if that is like a clichee that is over used in movies because in WW2 movies it seems every Cook and Mess Steward in the Navy was black. Where there black Cooks and Messmates on Submarines or was Submarine Forces like "Naw that's probaly not a good idead'
Yes, but again note the double tasking. Mess stewards could also be on the damage control teams, or manning weapons during combat.

Ammunition depots and logistics units were often manned by Black service members. The automotive transport companies of the Army were frequently Black, tho Hollywood depicted the Red Ball Express as entirely white.
That's what I figured.
And the Movie Greyhound is shown how the black Mess Steward is working as an ammuniton handler for the Bofors gun. And on Smaller Vessels (Destroyers, Destroyer Escorts, Submarines) Double duty does not only make sense but it probably crucial. And even on larger Vessels like Cruiers and Battleships you wanna be efficient with personal esepcially later in the war when lots of personal was actually added as Anti Aircraft Gun crews.

Very interssteing in deed, I can imagine that black submariners duing double duty even played a vital part in segregation partially getting lifted after WW2 and completely getting lifted after the Korean War.

As a German I have to say the Red Ball Express was one of the most known things to me where black soldiers served in the US Forces during the war.
I've also seen the Ryan Little movie Saints and Soldiers III The Void in which a black Soldier who's a driver for the Red Ball Express plays the lead role.

Thank you very much for your answer and help!

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Re: Composition of the crew of a US Navy fleet Submarine

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 19 Nov 2020 07:54

And BAR gunner. I met a Yeoman on a submarine who was given a Browning Automatic Rifle. The torpedo were ineffective vs small coastal freighters. So those were attacked with surface weapons. When the submarine surfaced adjacent to the target Yeoman Montgomery was first out the hatch, & would fire bursts from the BAR into the targets wheelhouse. About the time his magazine was empty the gunners would have the Browning HMGs set up and firing. Otherwise the Yeomen were responsible for most records. Personnel records, blank forms for dockyard use. The gunners & engineers had responsibilities for their specialty records/logbooks but most of the paper was a Yeomans work.
Wow, that's realy interssting.I didn't realize that fleet Submarines had a BAR on board.
My guess is it was not part of the standard equipment. It may have been requisitioned as additional equipment.
Science on ships small arms are usually locked up and only are issued when needed. Would it be the reasonable assumbtion the either the COB or the Yeoman would be the Person hlolding the key to the weapons locker?
The title would be Master at Arms. Probably a petty officer & probably a additional duty for him.

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Re: Composition of the crew of a US Navy fleet Submarine

Post by schutzearsch » 20 Nov 2020 20:11

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
19 Nov 2020 07:54
My guess is it was not part of the standard equipment. It may have been requisitioned as additional equipment.
Makes sense to me.

I have to say what instantly came to my mind after I read what you've writen was the engagement of SS-236 USS Silversides under Creed Burlingame and it's engagment with a small japanese craft that resultet in the sinking of the japanese vessel but also in the death of TM3 Mike Harbin.

Science the Parol was in early 1942 the costuction of the Sail of silversides probably didn't allow them to fire at the japanese boat with the 20mm Oerlikon. (But I'm also not sure how fast the Oerlikon would be ready to fire after the sub surfaced, I talked to a Kriegsmarine Veteran once who was an ammuniton handler for Oerlikon on a Vorpostenboot and he told me that the weapon was fine but that the ammo drums where very heavy and clumsy. So the BAR makes realy a lot of sense esepcialy early in the war. Later when the Gatos got their sail cut away giving the 20mm a great Arc of fire.
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
19 Nov 2020 07:54
The title would be Master at Arms. Probably a petty officer & probably a additional duty for him.
But would it be a Petty Officer of the Seaman Branch?
Or is there no rule about that?

Thanx again for your anwer!

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Re: Composition of the crew of a US Navy fleet Submarine

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 21 Nov 2020 12:05

Ordinarily a Gunners Mate, but if a secondary duty then any suitable individual would do.

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