Boatswain's mate (United States Coast Guard)

The most versatile member of the Coast Guard's operational team is the boatswain's mate (BM). Boatswain's mates are masters of seamanship. BMs are capable of performing almost any task in connection with deck maintenance, small boat operations, navigation, and supervising all personnel assigned to a ship's deck force. BMs have a general knowledge of lines and cables, including different uses, stresses, strains, and proper stowing. BMs operate hoists, cranes, and winches to load cargo or set gangplanks, and stand watch for security, navigation or communications.

Types of Duty

BMs can be found in nearly every duty station available throughout the United States and various locations overseas. They serve on every Coast Guard Cutter, from harbor tugs to sea-going icebreakers. They are experts in navigation, small boat operations, deck operations, crane and pulley systems, search and rescue, deck maintenance, and small arms. Additionally, in many assignments BMs act as boarding team members (BTM) or boarding officers (BO.) BMs are Officers in Charge of patrol boats, tugs, small craft, and small shore units including search and rescue stations and aids to navigation teams. BMs utilize their leadership and expertise to perform the missions of the Coast Guard, at sea and on shore.


Candidates should have leadership ability, physical strength, good hearing, normal color vision and a high degree of manual dexterity. School courses taken in algebra, geometry and shop are helpful. Any experience handling small boats is extremely valuable. ASVAB Score Requirements: VE+AR OF 100

Training Available

Training for boatswain's mate is accomplished through 14 weeks of intensive training at Training Center Yorktown in Yorktown, VA. Once this training is completed, BMs may go on to other advanced training such as Coxswain, Tactical Coxswain, Pursuit Coxswain, Heavy Weather Coxswain, or Surfman.

  • Pier superintendent
  • Tugboat crewman
  • Heavy equipment operator
  • Marina supervisor
  • Marina operator
  • Ship pilot
  • Police officer
  • US Marshal
  • DEA
  • US Customs and Border Protection
  • Safety supervisor/inspector
  • Small/large business managers
  • Salvage operator
  • Paramedic
  • Teacher

See also


  • United States Naval Institute (1996) [1902]. The Bluejackets' Manual (21st ed.). Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute. ISBN 1-55750-050-9.
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