The Navy is made up of people with a wide range of skills and specializations, broadly divided into officers and enlisted men. Each of these categories is further divided into various specialties and levels of responsibility. Though the basic specialties and levels have remained more or less constant from WWII to the present, there have been many changes in their names over the years. Click Here for an illustrated description of the current U. S. Navy officer ranks and enlisted ratings. Click Here for a comprehensive explanation of enlisted ratings, and Click Here for some interesting history.
Typically, the Rankin had about 30 officers and 250 enlisted men aboard, for a total of about 280. Her WWII complement was 62 officers and 333 enlisted men, for a total of 425. Her peacetime complement in 1967 was 247. Over the life of the ship, the number of enlisted men actually assigned to the ship ranged from 218 to 318, with an average of 250. The number of officers ranged from 21 to 42, with an average of 29. No women ever served aboard the ship, though there were occasional female passengers.
The ship often carried passengers, especially Marines who were associated with her cargo. About fifty Marines were embarked on the ship during a Mediterranean cruise in 1969. This was a typical number during times when the ship was combat loaded and ready to participate in landings. Other passengers included occasional evacuees from trouble spots, and occasional reservists and midshipmen on summer cruises.
For administrative purposes, the men aboard the Rankin are organized into Departments under the Commanding Officer and the Executive Officer.
Each department is led by an officer called a Department Head, who typically has one or more officers assisting him. The men in the department are organized into Divisions, each of which is led by a Division Officer, who is typically also one of the Department Head's technical assistants. The Communications Officer, for example, usually also serves as OC Division Officer. In addition to its technical and operational responsibilities, each division is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of its own spaces, or physical areas of the ship.
This page describes the Rankin's administrative organization as it existed in the 1960s; a slightly different organization may have existed earlier. The names of enlisted ratings or specialties are subject to change from time to time; those shown here were current during the 1960s.
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The Commanding Officer, also called the CO, Captain, Skipper, or Old Man, is in complete charge of the ship and everything that happens aboard.
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The Executive Officer, also called the XO, Exec, or Commander, is second in command, and is responsible for implementing the CO's orders through the others on the ship. He also controls the ship's day-to-day administrative operations.
The X Division is a group of administrative specialists reporting to the Executive Officer. It includes an Administrative Officer and/or a Personnel Officer, and is manned by Yeomen and Personnelmen. The Combat Cargo Officer reports to the XO and is sometimes considered as part of the X Division, as is the Chaplain when one is aboard.
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The Operations Department is responsible for all communications and information flow. The Operations Officer is assisted by a Communications Officer, a Combat Information Center Officer, and an Electronics Material Officer. Sometimes there is a separate Signals Officer.
The OC Division is responsible for communications by radio and other means, and is manned by Radiomen and Signalmen. Its division officer is also the Communications Officer.
The OI Division is responsible for the Combat Information Center (CIC) and for the maintenance and repair of the ship's electronic equipment. It is manned by Radarmen and Electronics Technicians. Its division officer is usually the CIC Officer.
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The Navigation Department is responsible for the safe navigation of the ship. It is headed by the Navigator, who is assisted by the men of N Division, who typically are Quartermasters.
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The Deck Department is responsible for the weather decks, the ship's boats, and for operating all the ship's cargo handling equipment. It is headed by the First Lieutenant, whose officer assistants include the Boat Group Commander, the Gunnery Officer, and several Division Officers. Members of the department are fondly referred to as "deck apes."
First Division handles everything forward of the superstructure, from the top of the A Frame to the bottom of #3 hold. It is manned by Boatswain's Mates.
Second Division, also manned by Boatswain's Mates, handles the equivalent of the First Division, but aft of the superstructure.
Third Division is responsible for all the ship's boats, and is manned by Boatswain's Mates. Its division officer is also the Boat Group Commander.
Fourth Division handles all the ship's guns, gun directors and magazines. It is manned by Gunner's Mates and Fire Control Technicians, and its division officer is the Gunnery Officer.
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The Engineering Department operates and maintains the ship's power plant, the engines on the ship's boats, and various mechanical equipment throughout the ship. The department head is the Engineering Officer, sometimes known as the Chief Engineer or Chief Snipe. Members of the engineering department are fondly referred to as "snipes."
The A Division is responsible for the boat engines and other diesel engines aboard. This division is manned by Enginemen.
B and M Divisions handle the ship's boilers and main propulsion machinery. They are manned by Boiler Tenders and Machinist's Mates.
E Division is responsible for the ship's generators and electrical system, and for the various interior communications circuits. It is manned by Electrician's Mates and Interior Communications Technicians.
R Division is the repair and damage control division. Its division officer is the Damage Control Assistant, and it is manned by Damage Controlmen and Shipfitters.
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The Supply Department manages the ship's expenses and provides many supplies and services: food, laundry, barber shop, repair parts, and more. The Supply Officer is usually assisted by a Disbursing Officer. In the 1950s, there was a Stores Officer instead of a Disbursing Officer. The department is manned by a varied crew, including Stewards, Commissarymen, Ship's Servicemen, Storekeepers, and Disbursing Clerks. Officers in this department are familiarly referred to as "pork chops," because of their feeding function and because of the shape of the Supply Corps insignia on their uniforms.
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The Medical Department consists of a doctor called the Medical Officer, and a group of Hospital Corpsman. They are well-known for providing effective remedies for seasickness and hangovers.