MERIDIAN, Miss. (NNS) -- The first Retail Services Specialist (RS) “A” school class received course completion certificates as they graduated from Naval Technical Training Center (NTTC) Meridian during a ceremony Oct. 9, 2019.
The Navy changed the rating name from ship’s serviceman, which the Navy established in 1943 to manage and operate all shipboard retail and service activities, to retail services specialist Oct. 1, 2019. The change directly translates the skills and expertise of the work performed by the Sailors in the rating to work performed in the civilian sector and increases professional alignment with civilian employees, better representing the functions performed by Sailors within the rating.
“This name change results in a win-win for our Sailors and the Navy,” said Cmdr. Chris Schlobohm, NTTC Meridian commanding officer. During the ceremony, he discussed the history of the rating and how the change supports the Navy’s Sailor 2025 program to improve and modernize personnel management and training systems to more effectively recruit, develop, manage, reward and retain Sailors.
Rating modernization continues to redefine career fields, offer more career choices, and expand professional development opportunities. With the progression from the original four specialty ratings of barber, laundryman, cobbler and tailor to ship’s serviceman and now retail services specialist, the name change is in keeping with the Navy tradition of defining the occupation of a Sailor in contemporary terms that better define the tasks to be performed and the skills needed to perform them.
“The name change now encompasses what we do on a day-to-day basis,” said Chief Retail Services Specialist Seth Lowry. A native of Kingsland, Georgia, he enlisted in the Navy in 2005 as a ship’s serviceman and is now the course supervisor for RS “A” School.
Recent graduates of recruit training and selected fleet Sailors complete the four-week RS “A” School to learn the initial skills training needed for their first tour as an RS in the fleet. Topics include the entry-level tasks associated with performing duties as a ship's store retail operator and a shipboard laundry operator.
“Today’s change to our rating will benefit all retail services specialists, and especially those making the transition to the private sector,” said Lowry. “Now our rating will be easier to translate into civilian terms for future employment opportunities post-Navy.”
Over 2,400 Sailors work in the RS rating. They serve a vital role in providing customer service and supporting quality of life and morale of Sailors aboard all U.S. Navy ships. Both ashore and afloat, RS’s manage and operate barbershops, ship’s uniform centers, laundry and dry cleaning plants, retail outlets, vending machines, bulk storerooms, perform cash collection functions, and facilitate postal operations at sea. They operate and maintain the automated resale operation management inventory control system, which assists in the procurement and receipt of ship’s store stock.
Discover more about the RS rating, review the RS Learning and Development Roadmap (LaDR), and learn about civilian credentials RS’s can pursue by visiting Navy Credentialing Opportunities On-line (COOL) at https://www.cool.navy.mil/usn/enlisted/rs.htm.
NTTC Meridian was commissioned in 1974, and delivers approximately 200 apprentice-level trained RSs to the fleet annually.
For more news from Naval Education and Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnet/.