A United States Navy Engineman (EN) is an enlisted sailor who operates, repairs, and services internal combustion engines on Navy ships and small crafts. Usually, these engines are diesel engines.
ENs also maintain and operate the air conditioning and refrigeration systems, desalinization plants, air compressors, and small auxiliary boilers onboard all US Navy vessels.
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On diesel ships, all Enginemen are assigned to Main Machinery (M) division, where they operate and maintain ship propulsion machinery and associated equipment such as pumps, compressors, valves, oil purifiers, heat exchangers, governors, reduction gears, shafts, and shaft bearings.
Sailors in other rates often refer to ENs as snipes. The originally derogatory term originates from other-rated sailors on shore duty or who worked topside and looked down on those who worked in the often grimy, greasy, dirty bowels of the ship.
Today, ENs take pride in the term snipe and refer to themselves as “the men who sail below.”
Other ratings considered snipes include Hull Technician (HT), Damage Controlman (DC), Electrician’s Mate (EM), Machinist Mate (EM), and Gas Turbine Systems Technician (GSM).
Approximately 5,500 Engineman serve in the Navy today.
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Requirements and Qualifications
To become an Engineman in today’s Navy, there are specific requirements and qualifications to meet:
- Must be a member of the US Navy.
- Citizenship requirements may vary.
- Must be between the ages of 18 and 39.
- Must have no record of adversely adjudicated drug abuse offenses.
- Must have normal hearing.
- Normal color perception is not required.
- A Department of Defense (DoD) security clearance is not required.
- Must have an Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) score of VE (Verbal Expression) + AR (Arithmetic Reasoning) + MK (Math Knowledge) + AS (Auto Shop) = 188 or VE (Verbal Expression) + AR (Arithmetic Reasoning) + MK (Math Knowledge) + AO (Assembly Objects) = 193.
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Training and Career Path
Prior to becoming an Engineman in the Navy, you must first become a Sailor. Recruits accomplish this via successful completion of Navy Recruit Training, commonly referred to as Boot Camp.
All sailors attend Boot Camp at the Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes (RTC Great Lakes).
Located at Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, Illinois in Lake County. RTC Great Lakes is commonly referred to as “The Quarterdeck of the Navy.”
Boot Camp is eight weeks long. During these eight weeks, the Navy will teach you the basic skills required of all US Sailors.
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Navy Engineman Class “A” School
After Boot Camp, future ENs attend Navy Engineman (EN) Class “A” School also at Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois.
Engineman “A” School comprises group instruction, classroom, and shop. In “A” school, ENs study:
- Introduction to Technical Documentation
- Basic Mechanical Theory
- Safety Precautions and programs
- Alignment and Operation of Piping Systems and Equipment (including hand tools, precision instruments, lubricants, bearings, couplings, gears, valves, pumps)
- The Maintenance Material Management System (3M)
- Basic Technical Knowledge, Terminology and Watch Standing Procedures for the Operation of Conventional Marine Steam
- Propulsion Systems
- Preventive Maintenance of Plant Equipment
The Navy also requires that ENs complete Basic Engineering Common Core (BECC) during their training at Naval Station Great Lakes. BECC covers the basics of engineering.
This includes Planned Maintenance System (PMS), Navy Occupational Safety and Health (NAVOSH) standards, engineering organization, propulsion and auxiliary stems, pumps, valves, fuel, and lube oil systems training.
ENs spend approximately 14 weeks of technical training (not including Boot Camp) prior to deploying to the fleet.
The EN rating requires a 60 month (five year) service obligation.
They should also pursue warfare qualifications depending on their duty station, such as:
- ESWS (Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist)
- Submarine Warfare (SSW) – Enlisted
The Navy provides online training to qualified ENs through their Credentialing Opportunities On-Line website, referred to as Navy COOL.
Additional training, such as Engineman Class “C” schools are available to ENs as their Navy career progresses.
How Much Are Navy Engineman Paid?
Like the other Armed Services, the Navy bases a sailor’s pay on their rank and length of service.
|Insignia||Pay Grade||Rank||Abbreviation||2020 Minimum Monthly Pay|
|E-4||Petty Officer Third Class||PO3||$2,263|
|E-5||Petty Officer Second Class||PO2||$2,468|
|E-6||Petty Officer First Class||PO1||$2,694|
|E-7||Chief Petty Officer||CPO||$3,114|
|E-8||Senior Chief Petty Officer||SCPO||$4,480|
|E-9||Master Chief Petty Officer||MCPO||$5,473|
|E-9||Command Master Chief Petty Officer||CMDCM||$5,473|
|E-9||Master Chief Petty Officer Of The Navy||MCPON||$5,473|
ENs may be entitled to other forms of compensation including base allowance for housing (BAH), base allowance for subsistence (BAS), and billet pay (sea pay, submarine pay, hazardous duty pay, etc.) if eligible.
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The Navy has a pilot program, Pay for Performance, designed to reward top performing sailors in specific ratings with re-enlistment bonuses. EN is one of those ratings.
What’s Life Like as a Navy Engineman?
The Navy’s Rating Information Card describes the EN rate as:
“Engineman operate and maintain diesel engines and reduction gears used for ship propulsion and auxiliary machinery such as diesel generators, pumps, and oil purifiers. They also maintain auxiliary machinery outside of main machinery spaces, such as electro-hydraulic steering engines and elevators, refrigeration plants, air conditioning systems and desalinization plants. They will also operate and maintain compressed gas producing plants, deck equipment including cranes, winches and hoists, condensers and heat exchange devices and small boats.”
Specifically, what an EN in the Navy does is:
- Align piping systems for oil, water, and air for controlling the operation of diesel engines used for ship propulsion and service systems.
- Control operation of diesel generators used to produce electrical power.
- Clean, adjust, test and perform other preventive maintenance on a ship’s auxiliary boilers, main engines, diesel generators and other auxiliary machinery including steering engines, elevators, winches, pumps, and associated valves.
- Operate and maintain desalinization plants (distilling plants) to make fresh water from seawater.
- Maintain refrigeration plants, air conditioning systems, and galley equipment.
- Repair or replace valves, pumps, heat exchangers, compressors, steam turbines, and hydraulic or pneumatic control devices.
- Operate and maintain the Navy’s small boats.
- Make entries in and analyze machinery operating records and reports.
The EN work environment includes main engine rooms, auxiliary machinery rooms, engine rooms, or shops. Usually, these locations are hot and noisy.
ENs routinely perform heavy physical work.
ENs must be able to work closely with their shipmates, and sometimes with limited supervision.
Despite the hard, physical work, often in noisy and hot conditions, most ENs truly enjoy their work in the Navy.
ENFN Nathanael Serna, stationed aboard the USS Devastator (MCM-6), states, “I have worked very hard to get here and enjoy my work.”
In describing his day-to-day duties, the young engineman explains, “As an engineman, we are responsible for maintaining and operating the ship’s main propulsion system, generators, air compressors, and controllable pitch propeller systems. We keep the ship moving and keep the engines running.”
Adds FNSN Serna, “There is always work to be done here and it is very fast paced.”
Formerly stationed onboard the USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52), EN2 Gabrielle Anthony enjoys the opportunities her Navy career has afforded her, “The Navy has given me the opportunity to become a worldwide influence.”
The job of a Navy Engineman is physical and not always in the most comfortable environments. However, it is necessary, and the Navy is always on the lookout for men and women who can handle it.
Sailors in specific jobs (or rates as the Navy refers to them) must adhere to a Sea/Shore rotation based on their rate.
The EN rate is one of the most sea-intensive rates in the US Navy.
During a twenty-year career in the Navy, an EN will spend about 65 percent of their career at sea, and 35 percent assigned to shore stations.
Throughout an ENs career, manning conditions at sea may require the need to request sea tour extension or shore tour curtailments to ensure adequately manned sea billets.
Specifically, the Sea/Shore rotation for an EN is:
|Tour||Sea Tour||Shore Tour|
|First Tour||60 Months (5 Years)||36 Months (3 Years)|
|Second Tour||60 Months (5 Years)||36 Months (3 Years)|
|Third Tour||48 Month (4 Years)||36 Months (3 Years)|
|Fourth Tour||48 Month (4 Years)||36 Months (3 Years)|
|Fifth Tour||36 Months (3 Years)||36 Months (3 Years)|
|Sixth Tour||36 Months (3 Years)||36 Months (3 Years)|
|Seventh Tour||36 Months (3 Years)||36 Months (3 Years)|
Note that some overseas assignments count as sea tours.
Shipboard life and life on shore duty are drastically different. The Navy expects ENs, as they do all their sailors, to adapt and meet the challenges presented by these different environments.
Here are a few reviews we happened across on indeed.com from ex- and current Navy ENs:
Also, advancement for an EN is excellent. The Navy Personnel Command reports that advancement is above the Navy average for E5 and below and E7 and above.
Navy Engineman enjoy the same benefits as do all Navy personnel, such as the opportunity to travel the world, unlimited opportunities for learning and advancement, and control over their career.
Civilian Career Opportunities
Civilian career opportunities for Navy ENs abound. Just a few of these include mobile heavy equipment mechanic, machinist, cooling and freezing equipment operator, refrigeration mechanic and installer, control and valve installer and repairer, motorboat mechanic, mechanical service technician, industrial machinery mechanic, boiler operator, and engine assembler.
Operation Military Kids considers Engineman among the top 10 Navy jobs for civilian life.
This is especially true if the sailor takes full advantage of on-the-job training (OJT), extra training opportunities, and educational opportunities offered and afforded them during their naval service.
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The United States Military Apprenticeship Program (USMAP) also allows ENs to complete their civilian apprenticeship requirements while on active duty.
According to cool.navy.mil, these apprenticeships include:
- Bulk Fuel Specialist (Pumper-Gauger)
- Computer Operator
- Correction Officer (Government Service)
- Counselor (Professional & Kindred)
- Diesel Mechanic
- Fuel System Maintenance Worker (Any Industry)
- Hydroelectric-Machinery Mechanic (Utilities)
- Maintenance Mechanic (Any Industry)
- Pump Repairer (Any Industry)
- Water-Treatment-Plant Operator (Waterworks)
If you are considering the US Navy, not averse to hard work, enjoy working with engines, and are seeking adventure, Engineman might just be the rate for you.