In the modern navy, a quartermaster is a petty officer who specializes in navigation. The rating abbreviation is QM, and the symbol used for the rating and worn on the uniform is a ship's wheel.
Quartermaster is one of the few ratings for which billets exist in just about every type of Navy ship. Quartermasters stand watch as assistants to officers of the deck and the navigator. They serve as helmsman as well as perform various ship control, navigation and bridge watch duties.
QMs are responsible for procuring, correcting, using and
stowing the ship's navigational and oceanographic publications and oceanographic
charts. In addition they maintain the ship's navigational instruments, keep
correct navigational time; render "honors and ceremonies" in accordance
with national observance and foreign customs; send and receive visual messages;
and may also serve as petty officers in charge of tugs, self-propelled barges
and other yard and district craft.
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Quartermaster is one of the few ratings for which
billets exist in virtually all types of Navy ships, from the largest to
the smallest--both surface craft and submarines. The nature of the First
Class or Chief Quartermaster's work depends mainly on the type of ship to
which he is assigned. Aboard carriers, cruisers, and other deep draft ships,
the Quartermaster force is likely to be quite large; the senior Quartermaster
spends much of his time on administrative duties and supervision. Aboard
meduim size ships, the senior Quartermaster frequently is the assistant
to the navigator, and most of his time is taken up in actual navigational
duties. Aboard very small ships, the senior Quartermaster usually is the
navigator's assistant, and may have the additional responsibility of supervising
the ship's signal force. At the first class and chief level, Quartermasters
may also be assigned to sea duty as petty officer in charge of tugboats or
other types of yard craft.
QM Quartermaster (1902 - Present)
Service (Specialty) Ratings
|Note 1. After 2003, the U.S. Navy disestablished
the Signalman (SM) rating and incorporated many of the personnel and their
responsibilities into the QM rating.
Note 2. At one time the Quartermaster rate, along with Gunner's Mate, Cook, and Boatswain's Mate were the oldest rates in the Navy. These were considered "right-arm" rates. Right Arm Rates which were disestablished on 02 April 1949, originally signified men of the Seaman branch. During WWII these rates included Boatswains Mate, Turret Captain, Signalman, Gunners Mate, Fire Controlman, Quartermaster, Mineman, and Torpedomans Mate. Other ratings wore rates on the left sleeve.
Note 3: In the U.S. Army, the term "Quartermaster" is used to describe all supply personnel and units that are part of the Quartermaster Corps.
Note 4: Pirate quartermasters (from wikipedia.org.)
Through a historical oddity, pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy elevated the rank of quartermaster to much higher powers and responsibilities than it had aboard any merchant or naval vessel.
Pirate quartermasters, like pirate captains, were usually elected by their crews. The quartermaster ranked higher than any officer aboard the ship except the captain himself, and could veto the captain's decisions whenever the ship was not chasing a prize or engaged in battle. The quartermaster also was chiefly responsible for discipline, assessing punishments for crewmen who transgressed the articles. It was generally also the quartermaster's responsibility to lead the pirate boarding party when coming aboard another ship. Several quartermasters, notably Calico Jack Rackham, succeeded to command and became captains in their own right after the previous captain was killed or deposed.
Although a minority of pirate scholars dismiss the accepted version of the pirate quartermaster's importance, it is well supported by the extant secondary sources such as Charles Johnson, Cordingly and Botting, and overwhelmingly borne out by the primary sources, including Ringrose, Dampier, Snelgrave, Trott, and George Roberts.
"Gee, I Wish I Were A Man!"
by Howard Chandler Christy
Note that the Sailor is a Quartermaster and
displays her rate on the right arm.
The Bridge of the USS Little Rock after shipmate
QM2 George Thomas finished with the brightwork.
George accomplished this while participating in the
2007 Little Rock Association Workparty.
Links to other Quartermaster Websites:
|Comments from the Crew
|Ron Berardino QM2
CPO Mess to the Bridge
Came on board as an SA. Mess cooked in the CPO Mess until I convinced Chief Olsen I wanted to be a Quarter Master.
Left the Little Rock as QM2.
It was the Best Time, but never know it until it's past. The guys, the places we went!
I've been back to the Rock 3 times. Might try this JULY 2007.