Navy Aviation Boatswain's Mate (ABH)

Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH)

Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (ABH) are considered “jacks of all trades”.

The important Navy rating assists with launching and recovering aircraft from ships or land.

Furthermore, an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH) helps with flight preparation and fueling.

Learn more about what it takes to become a Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH).

Related Article: Navy Enlisted And Officer Ranks And Pay 

Education, Qualifications, and Training

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A Navy Aviation Boatswain Mate (ABH) receives training at Class “A” School in Florida. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Navy classifies its jobs a little differently compared to other branches of the military.

While most branches of the military refer to jobs as “Military Occupational Specialities” (MOS), the Navy labels jobs “enlisted ratings”.

The Navy rating you have is important because it is the job duties you will perform on a day-to-day basis.

There is education, qualifications, and training required to become a Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH):


The U.S. Navy requires new recruits to have a high school diploma.

The only acceptable equivalent is a general equivalency diploma (GED).

You will also need to complete the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

The series of tests are used by the U.S. Navy to determine applicable military jobs or Navy ratings.

Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mates must pass the ASVAB with a minimum test score of 184.

Aspiring Aviation Boatswain’s Mates are tested in Arithmetic Reasoning (AR), Automotive and Shop Information (AS), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), and Verbal Expression (VE).


The Navy requires Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (ABH) to have decent eyesight.

An eye examination will check for a minimum of 20/100 uncorrected vision that is correctable to 20/20.

Furthermore, ABH candidates must demonstrate normal color perception, meaning no color blindness.

Hearing is also important to the day-to-day job duties of an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate.

Sailors are required to demonstrate normal hearing of the frequencies between 3,000Hz and 6,000Hz.

The average hearing threshold level for the four frequencies needs to be lower than 30dB, with a level that is not higher than 45dB in any one frequency.

Additionally, sailors interested in becoming ABH should feel comfortable working outdoors in a variety of conditions.

The work performed is demanding, labor-intensive, and potentially hazardous.

There is no security clearance required for a Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate, avoiding the need for a background check conducted by the Department of Defense.

However, you will need to pass a drug test and meet the general physical fitness standards of the U.S. Navy.


The most exciting thing about becoming a Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH) is the opportunity for promotion and advanced placement.

First, you will start your training at the Recruit Training Command, like all other new recruits of the U.S. Navy.

Recruit Training Command is also known informally as “Navy Boot Camp” and lasts eight weeks.

Then, you progress to training related to your Navy rating.

A Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH) receives Class A Technical School training in Pensacola, Florida.

The training to become ABH lasts six weeks and introduces sailors to aviation basic theory and required skills of the rating.

After completing Class “A” Technical School you may begin your career as a Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH).

As previously mentioned, there are opportunities to receive advancement opportunities for ABH.

Career progression is linked to a rating’s manning level and personal reputation.

If you work hard and stay out of trouble in the military, you can climb the ladder in ABH to more responsibilities and higher pay.

What does a Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH) Do?

navy aviation boatswains mate
Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (ABH) have a number of responsibilities on top of an aircraft carrier. Image: DoDLive

Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (ABH) are important members of the Navy because of their versatility.

An Aviation Boatswain’s Mate is best described as the sailors you notice moving around the ship or on land preparing an aircraft for flight.

Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mates have a wide list of responsibilities like refueling aircraft, preparing for takeoff, and directing traffic aboard an aircraft carrier.

The Navy rating is fast-paced and challenging yet rewarding for sailors looking to earn a reputation and potentially move up the promotional ladder of the military branch.

Additional job duties of ABH sailors may include everything from firefighting to rescue and salvage operations.

It would be impossible for aircraft carriers and Navy bases to operate as smoothly and successfully with takeoffs and landings if it wasn’t for the vital role of ABH.

Related Article: Navy Aviation Electronics Technician (AT): Career Profile

Job Duties of Navy ABH

Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (ABH) are essential to launching and recovering naval aircraft.

The work is commonly performed abroad aircraft carriers in the sea, yet some ABH is stationed on land at airbases.

When you first join the Navy as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate you will likely be assigned to one type of specialty.

As you prove yourself and advance you may receive a promotion to supervising different individual specialties.

Later in their careers, ABs can earn the advanced AB rating that supervises all of the individual specialties.

The job duties of Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate include:

  • Directing the movement and spotting of aircraft.
  • Operating, maintaining, and performing maintenance on equipment related to launches and landings.
  • Performing crash rescue, firefighting, crash removal, and damage control tasks.
  • Assisting with ground handling equipment used for transporting and hoisting aircraft.
  • Supervising the daily operations of ABH duties, like securing aircraft and equipment for departure.

Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (ABH) may work or maintain everything from hydraulic and steam catapults to arresting gear engines.

ABH also attend to arresting consoles, water breaks, firing panels, blast deflectors, and cooling panels.

What does a Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH) make?

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Compensation for Navy ABH is factored based on military rank. Image: DoDLive

The U.S. Navy, like other military branches, does not determine the amount of pay based on your job.

Therefore, your compensation in the Navy is based on your military rank and years of service.

Here is a general idea of what you can expect to make in the Navy based on military rank.

Most new Navy Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (ABH) start at the level of Seamen Recruit (E-1) or Seamen Apprentice (E-2).

InsigniaPay Grade RankAbbreviation2021 Minimum Monthly Pay
N/AE-1Seaman RecruitSR$1,785.00
E-2Seaman ApprenticeSA$2,000.70
e-3 navy seamanE-3SeamanSN$2,103.90
petty officer third classE-4Petty Officer Third ClassPO3$2,330.40
petty officer second classE-5Petty Officer Second ClassPO2$2,541.60
petty officer first classE-6Petty Officer First ClassPO1$2,774.40
chief petty officerE-7Chief Petty OfficerCPO$3,207.60
senior chief petty officerE-8Senior Chief Petty OfficerSCPO$4,614.60
master chief petty officerE-9Master Chief Petty OfficerMCPO$5,637.00
command master chief petty officerE-9Command Master Chief Petty OfficerCMDCM$5,637.00
master chief petty officer of the navyE-9Master Chief Petty Officer Of The NavyMCPON$5,637.00


The U.S. Navy has several benefits included with a monthly salary:

  • Medical Insurance
  • Vacation Time
  • Special Pay
  • Retirement
  • Affordable Life Insurance
  • Housing: Allowances for living expenses, utilities, and maintenance.
  • Food: Allowance for dining and access to tax-free department and grocery stores.
  • Education: Sailors can earn full-tuition, merit-based scholarships, allowances for books and fees, plus an annual stipend for living expenses.

Job Reviews

There are several job reviews specific to serving the Navy as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH) on

The general consensus is ABH is hard work and fast-paced, yet rewarding and capable of helping you grow as a sailor.

One reason many people join the U.S. Navy is the opportunity to travel and see the world.

Civilian Job Opportunities

Unfortunately, there really isn’t a civilian job equivalent to the duties of ABH.

If you enjoy your time in the Navy working on ships than you may want to find comparable employment with major ship liners or sea transport.

Regardless of your future employment after leaving the Navy, the skills and leadership you acquire in the military branch will serve you well in any walk of life.

Related Article: Navy Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewmen (SWCC): Career Profile


Aviation Boatswain’s Mates (ABH) are essential to the day-to-day operations of the U.S. Navy.

Though much of the work is thankless and behind-the-scenes, ABH serves a necessary job in helping aircraft depart and arrive on carriers.

Serving the Navy as an Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (ABH) allows you to see the world through travel, make new friends, and develop your personal character.

Contact a local Navy recruiter if you are interested in learning more about what it takes to enlist in the military branch and become ABH.


Nicholas A.
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