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Changes to IC rating include first master chiefs

Jan. 11, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors at work
Interior Communications Electrician Fireman Margarita Villalvazo installs telephone lines aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt in September. Future junior ICs will be classified as seamen instead of firemen as part of changes to the rating. (MC3 Eric M. Norcross/Navy)
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Interior communications electricians will soon have some master chiefs to call their own.

Under old rules, IC senior chiefs had to become electrician’s mates before competing to make E-9. But in fiscal 2015, the Master Chief Petty Officer Advancement Selection Board will select the first eight ICs to make E-9.

“To say that I’m excited is an understatement,” Master Chief Electrician’s Mate Ted Hillebrand, previously an ICCS, said in a Navy release. “I’ve been waiting 28 years for this day, and there’s more than 2,000 ICs that have been waiting for this. It’s a historical moment for the IC rating.”

The change, outlined in NAVADMIN 320/13, was necessary because the missions of an IC has diverged significantly from that of an EM. While once engineering focused, ICs now work primarily with combat systems, the Navy reports.

This shift led to one other change for ICs: Starting May 1, sailors E-3 and below will be redesignated from fireman to seaman.

The Navy created the IC rating in 1948 as an offshoot of EM. Decades later there was a push to merge the two again, but that was quashed in 2007 because officials recognized the widening gap in training and expertise. That same year, “A” and “C” schools for this rating were moved from the Center for Naval Engineering to the Center for Surface Combat Systems.

ICs work on everything from electronic navigational systems to fiber optics to teleconferencing. The skills needed to perform these tasks better match with combat systems ratings than engineering ratings.

For career-minded ICs, getting a chance to make master chief without changing rate is huge, said Capt. B.L. Deshotel, head enlisted community manager at the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

“The pride and bravado associated with a rating is something that only a sailor can truly understand,” he said. “In the past, when an IC made master chief, that sailor had to replace their rating badge with that of the EM rating badge. For any sailor, the rating that they built their naval career under will always hold a special place and letting it go, well, just doesn’t feel right.”

Those senior chief ICs who converted to EMs to make master chief in the past are out of luck. Those “legacy” ICs are ineligble to convert.

Deshotel said the first jobs for ICCMs will be in maintenance, material and management at sea, but there is more opportunity for growth.

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