operations specialist navy

Navy Operations Specialist (OS): Career Details for 2023

Navy Operations Specialists (OS) find that they’re key members of the combat team on Navy vessels in the fleet.

These enlisted personnel are responsible for locating, identifying, and tracking potential targets using sophisticated electronic devices.

Specific jobs a Navy Operations Specialist performs include plotting ship position, heading, and speed and operating marine navigational instruments.

navy operations specialist (OS)
Operation Specialists monitor the Global Command Control Systems (GCCS) in the CDC. Image: Wikipedia.org

The Navy Operations Specialist’s responsibilities and duties vary depending on their ship’s equipment and the ship’s mission.

They may handle shipboard communication or perform surveillance duties that include identifying enemy aircraft and vessels. 

They operate the Navy’s “Identification Friend or Foe” radar system. Additionally, they may find themselves serving as an air traffic controller for Navy rotary and fixed-wing aircraft in their ship’s vicinity.

A Navy OS is never without a lack of work.

Related ArticleNavy Jobs List: A List Of All 89 Ratings In The Navy

Navy Operations Specialists normally work inside the Combat Information Center (CIC)/Combat Direction Center (CDC).

Whatever the specific mission, the Navy charges Navy Operations Specialists with disseminating and displaying tactical information. 

Such operations may  include:

  • Search and Rescue (SAR) operations
  • Air Warfare (AW), Surface Warfare (SUW)
  • Amphibious Warfare (AMW)
  • Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)
  • Littoral Warfare (LW)
  • Undersea Warfare (USW)
  • Mine Warfare (MIW)
  • Naval Surface Fire Support (NSFS).
navy OS
OS2 Gretchen Flint and OSSN Andrew Wilbanks monitor radar in the CIC aboard the USS Bataan. Image: Getarchive.net

Jump To A Section


Requirements and Qualifications

To become a Navy OS, there are specific requirements and qualifications that you must meet:

  • Must be between the ages of 17 and 41
  • You must be a US Citizen.
  • Must demonstrate normal hearing and have no speech impediment.
  • You will need normal color perception.
  • No record of adversely adjudicated drug abuse offenses.
  • Must have an Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) score of VE (Verbal Expression)+ MK (Mathematics Knowledge) + CS (Coding Speed) = 148 or AR (Arithmetic Reasoning) + 2MK (Mathematics Knowledge) + GS (General Science) = 198
  • Must be able to meet all security clearance requirements (Secret Clearance is the minimum).

Related Article: Navy Height And Weight Standards

Training and Career Path

Prior to becoming a Navy OS, you must first become a US Navy Sailor via successful completion of Recruit Training, commonly referred to as Boot Camp.

All sailors attend Boot Camp at the Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes (RTC Great Lakes).

Commonly referred to as “The Quarterdeck of the Navy,” RTC Great Lakes is located at Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, Illinois, in Lake County.

Boot Camp is 10 weeks long. During these 10 weeks, the Navy will teach you the basic skills required of all US Sailors.

 Related ArticleIs Navy Boot Camp Hard?

Navy Operations Specialist Class “A” School

After boot camp, Navy Operations Specialists head across Naval Station (NAVSTA) Great Lakes to Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) Great Lakes where they attend Operations Specialist Class “A” school.

Navy Operations Specialist Class “A” school is 10 weeks long.

During Navy Operations Specialist ” A” School training, sailors learn pertinent subjects from a combination of classroom, computer-aided, and group instruction. 

These include:

  • Charts and course-plotting
  • Tactical publications
  • Radar operations
  • Vector analysis
  • Naval tactical data systems’ basic procedures, detection, tracking, and interpretation
  • Radiotelephone coding
  • Air and surface status board keeping
  • Anti-warfare plotting

Just recently, many wanna-be Operations Specialists took part in the Navy’s innovative initiative known as Ready, Relevant, Learning (RRL). 

With Ready, Relevant, Learning, instead of attending Operations Specialist “A” school sailors self-study pier side via interactive, self-directed courseware, step-by-step guides, demonstration videos, and game-based virtualization software during a sailor’s career dependent on specific skills required.

Navy Operations Specialists must commit to a two or five-year service obligation.

Besides Operations Specialist Class “A” school, the Navy expects and encourages Operations Specialists to complete additional self-paced learning opportunities.

Non-Resident Training Courses (NRTC) and relative Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS) will enhance their knowledge and increase their promotion opportunities.

In addition, The Navy provides online training to qualified Navy Operations Specialists through their Credentialing Opportunities On-Line website, referred to as Navy COOL.

There also exists Navy Operations Specialist-related Class “C” schools for more senior, high-performing Navy Operations Specialists interested in further training.

How Much Are Navy Operations Specialists Paid?

Like all other enlisted personnel (in all branches), the Navy bases a sailor’s pay on their rank and length of service.

InsigniaPay Grade RankAbbreviation2023 Minimum Monthly Pay
N/AE-1 +4 monthsSeaman RecruitSR$1,917.60
E-2Seaman ApprenticeSA$2,149.20
e-3 navy seamanE-3SeamanSN$2,259.90
petty officer third classE-4Petty Officer Third ClassPO3$2,503.50
petty officer second classE-5Petty Officer Second ClassPO2$2,730.30
petty officer first classE-6Petty Officer First ClassPO1$2,980.50
chief petty officerE-7Chief Petty OfficerCPO$3,445.80
senior chief petty officerE-8Senior Chief Petty OfficerSCPO$4,957.20
master chief petty officerE-9Master Chief Petty OfficerMCPO$6,055.50
command master chief petty officerE-9Command Master Chief Petty OfficerCMDCM$6,055.50
master chief petty officer of the navyE-9Master Chief Petty Officer Of The NavyMCPON$6,055.50

A Navy OS may also qualify for other forms of compensation including Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), and billet pay (sea pay, flight pay, submarine pay, hazardous duty pay, etc.) if eligible.

Related Article: Navy Ranks And Pay For 2019

What’s Life Like as a Navy Operations Specialist?

Navy Operations Specialists normally work in the Combat Information Center (CIC) or Combat Direction Center (CDC) on board their respective ships.

Cool and air-conditioned (albeit dimly it), the CIC/CDC is the “tactical nerve center” of the ship.

A Navy OS uses a wide variety of assets available to them in the CIC/CDC to help collect and organize data.

Their primary responsibility is to process and evaluate it and disseminate any relevant tactical combat information to their leaders. This is so those leaders can make sound tactical decisions in a minimal amount of time.

navy operations specialist at work
Sailors aboard the USS Cowpens coordinate tactical information in the CIC. Image: Wikimedia.org

During military operations, the CIC/CDC is often fast-paced and stressful for Navy Operations Specialists.

A Navy OS has jobs that fall in one of five categories:

  • Navigation and Plotting Specialists
  • Operations Administrator
  • Warfare Operator
  • Electronic Systems Operator
  • Combat Air Controller

Navy Operations Specialists should, however, expect, that they will perform one or more, or even all, of these roles, depending on the size of their duty station and the needs of the command and Navy.

Related ArticleNavy Air Traffic Controller: Pay, Duty Stations, and More

Day-to-Day Duties for a Navy OS

The duties of a Navy OS are vast and depend on the ship or duty station to which they’re assigned.  Some of these duties are:

  • Provide command-relevant and timely information related to operations. These may be Search and Rescue missions or Air, Surface, or Amphibious Warfare operations. 
  • Plotting ship’s positions, headings, and speed to identify vessels or aircraft. 
  • Provide target plotting data based on information obtained from target tracking devices.
  • Assist and direct air control of combat aircraft.
  • Plot targets and make calculations to adjust fire during naval gunfire support missions
  • Operate radar systems and other electronic navigation and communications equipment.
  • Maintain a tactical ‘picture’ of the ship’s surroundings, including friendly, neutral, hostile, and civilian activities. 

Operations Specialists must also maintain a working knowledge of protocols and procedures in electronic warfare.

As Operations Specialists advance in their careers, the Navy depends on them to lead and supervise less senior Operations Specialists in their Department and/ or Division. 

It is also likely that Operations Specialists will need to qualify for higher-level clearances, such as Top Secret or Top Secret SCI (Sensitive Compartmented Information), as their rank and responsibilities increase.

Sailors in specific jobs (or rates, as the Navy refers to them) must adhere to a Sea/Shore rotation based on their rate.

Navy OS is a sea-duty intensive rating. Navy Operations Specialists typically spend three-fifths of a 20-year career assigned to sea duty.

Typical Rotation

Specifically, the Navy OS Sea/Shore rotation is:

TourSea TourShore Tour
First Tour54 Months36 Months
Second Tour60 Months36 Months
Third Tour48 Months36 Months
Fourth Tour48 Months36 Months
Fifth Tour36 Months36 Months
Sixth Tour36 Months36 Months
Seventh Tour36 Months36 Months

Sailors who have completed four sea tours will serve 36 months assigned to a ship followed by 36 months assigned to a shore location until retirement. 

Note that some overseas assignments count as sea tours.

Life aboard ship and life while on shore duty will be drastically different and the Navy expects Operations Specialists to adapt and meet the challenges presented by these different environments.

Navy Operations Specialists will find that they enjoy a cool, clean, comfortable work environment, opportunities to travel the world, great and varied benefits, unlimited opportunities for learning and advancement, and control over their careers.

Here are a few reviews we happened across on indeed.com for a Navy OS:

Noteworthy is that Navy Operations Specialists, like all other Navy rates, are sailors first.

Operations Specialists have collateral duties which may include standing watches, working parties, firefighting duties, damage control duties, and other various tasks as assigned by the chain of command.

Civilian Career Opportunities

Civilian Career Opportunities abound for a Navy OS when they leave or retire from the Navy.

This is especially true if the sailor takes full advantage of on-the-job (OJT) training and educational opportunities afforded them during their service.

Civilian occupations for Navy Operations Specialists include, but are not limited to:

  • Computer Operator
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Radio Operator
  • Air Traffic Controller
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Remote Sensing Scientist/Technologist
  • Airfield Operations Specialist

If you are a young person considering joining the US Navy, life as a Navy OS offers a fast-paced, adventurous life in uniform, along with a plethora of opportunities as a sailor. 

After a successful contract with the Navy, there will also be opportunities later in life, as a civilian.


Navy Operations Specialist Salary Info

Find A Navy Recruiter

Navy Operations Specialist Reviews

Civilian Careers Similar To Navy Operations Specialist

Travis R.

Originally posted on 06/21/19

Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click and purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I have personally vetted. Learn more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *