The ABE, ABF, ABH Ratings
Aviation Boatswain's Mate was established as a rating in 1944. Aviation Boatswain's Mates play a major part in launching and recovering naval aircraft quickly and safely from land or ships. This includes preparing and fueling planes prior to take-off and after landing.
AB's may specialize in launching and recovering aircraft on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, ABE; aircraft fueling and fuel systems, ABF; or aircraft handling, fire fighting and salvage and rescue operations, ABH.
Later in their careers, ABs can earn the advanced AB rating that requires supervision of all these individual specialties.
ABE "A" school is five weeks and ABF & ABH "A" schools are six weeks in duration. All three schools are located in Pensacola, Florida. The AB rating requires a 60 month (5 year) service obligation.
Aviation Boatswain's Mate - Launch/Recovery (ABE)
Aviation Boatswain's Mates (Launching and Recovery Equipment) operate, maintain, and perform maintenance on steam catapults, barricades, arresting gear, and associated equipment ashore and afloat. They operate catapult hydraulic systems, retraction engines, water brakes, jet blast deflectors, Integrated Catapult Control Stations (ICCS), jet blast deflector control panels, and arresting gear engines, sheave dampers, deckedge control stations, and associated equipment.
ABEs perform aircraft handling duties related to the operation of aircraft launching and recovery equipment.
Aviation Boatswain's Mate - Fuels - (ABF)
Aviation Boatswain's Mates (Fuels) operate, maintain, and perform organizational maintenance on aviation fueling and lubricating oil systems in CVNs, LHAs, LHDs, and LPDs, including aviation fuel and lubricating oil service stations and pump rooms, piping, valves, pumps, tanks, and portable equipment related to the fuel system. They operate, maintain, and repair valves and piping of purging and protective systems within the Air Department's spaces aboard ship, and they supervise the operation and servicing of fuel farms and equipment associated with the fueling and defueling of aircraft ashore and afloat.
ABFs operate and service motorized fueling equipment, maintain fuel quality surveillance and control in aviation fuel systems ashore and afloat. They train, direct, and supervise firefighting crews, fire rescue teams, and damage control parties in assigned fuel and lubricating oil spaces, and observe and enforce fuel handling safety precautions.
Aviation Boatswain's Mate - Aircraft Handler - (ABH)
Aviation Boatswain's Mates (Aircraft Handling) direct the movement and spotting of aircraft ashore and afloat. They operate, maintain, and perform organizational maintenance on ground-handling equipment used for moving and hoisting of aircraft ashore and afloat, and they supervise the securing of aircraft and equipment. ABHs perform crash rescue, firefighting, crash removal, and damage control duties. They perform duties in connection with launching and recovery of aircraft.
Career Sea - Shore Rotation Chart
Sea tours and shore tours for Sailors that have completed four sea tours will be 36 months at sea followed by 36 ashore until retirement.
Sailors in the Aviation Boatswain's Mate rating can expect to spend more than half their career on sea duty assignment. Sea tour lengths for the AB rating will not involuntarily exceed 60 months for Sailors with less than 20 years of service (YOS) and 48 months for Sailors with more than 20 YOS. Shore tour lengths between sea tours will be set to 36 months long. Manning conditions at sea may require the need to request sea tour extension or shore tour curtailments to ensure all sea duty billets are filled.
Qualifications, Interests, and Working Environment
To qualify for placement in the AB rating, individuals should relate well with other people, be physically fit and have manual dexterity. They should have a keen awareness of the need for required details to safely complete a job, the ability to do repetitive tasks and be good team workers.
Other helpful traits include curiosity and competence with tools, equipment and machines.
Audiometric hearing levels: Pure tone at 500, 1000, and 2000 cycles per second for each ear of not more than 30dB on the average with no individual level greater than 35dB at those frequencies. Pure tone level not more than 45dB at 3000 cycles per second or 55dB at 4000 cycles per second for each ear.
Vision must correct to 20/20, you must have full field of vision, and must have normal depth perception and color perception (required for all three ratings). Members of this rate are not required to be citizens of the United States.
Most of the work in this rating is performed outdoors on the deck of aircraft carriers, in all climatic conditions, in fast-paced and often potentially hazardous environments. ABs work closely with others in aviation ratings. AB ASVAB Test requirement.
Depending on which "A" school you attend, the American Council on Education recommends that you will have earned the following possible credits hours in the vocational certificate category and lower division bachelor's/associates degree category: (ABE) 1 semester hour in industrial equipment maintenance; (ABF) 1 semester hour in aircraft ground operations and 1 in industrial maintenance practices; and, (ABH) 1 semester hour in heavy equipment operation (fire fighting), 2 hours in aircraft ground handling, 1 in fire fighting principals and 1 hour in industrial safety.
Throughout your career, you may have an opportunity to attend advanced technical training ("C" schools) which may be eligible for additional college credits.