Sailor petition forces White House review of Navy's unpopular ratings elimination

13News Now Mike Gooding has the story

(Navy Times) -- A petition to the White House demanding the restoration of Navy rating titles has reached the 100,000 mark, the threshold required to get a response, nearly two days before the deadline.

Launched on Sept. 29, petitioners had until Oct. 30 to net the signatures. The petition hit the halfway mark — 50,000 within 96 hours of the posting on Oct. 3. It took the remainder of the month to get the rest of the required signatures, which crested that mark mid-morning today.

Tell us what you think about the Navy's elimination of ratings in this quick and anonymous survey.

Requests for comment from the Navy's chief of personnel were not immediately returned after the petition reached its goal Friday.

The online debate of sailors past and present has raged on for most of the month and continues to pop up on the Facebook pages of the Navy and their leadership anytime the topic is broached — and often when it is not.

 The words of the petition seemed to sum up most sailors' complaints:

“For 241 Years Navy personnel have been identified by their Job specialty, known as a 'Rating,' " the petition reads. “The oldest rates such as Boatswain Mates, and Gunners Mate predate the founding of this country. Being known by your job title was a sense of pride. A sign of accomplishment. The Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations just senselessly erased this tradition.”

Still, the Navy’s leadership, from Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus on down, have not wavered in their resolve to see this “ratings modernization” change through. 

 The petition launched within hours of Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson's announcement Sept. 29 eliminating the use of Navy Rating titles, replacing them with alpha-numeric codes. The move, Richardson said, will give sailors greater career opportunities in skills, training and job assignments.

The White House will now conduct a review that typically takes about two months.  

Virginia Senator Mark Warner is expressing some reservations about the decision, and how it was rolled out. In a statement to 13News Now, he said:

"The announcement of a change that will end nearly 240 years of Navy tradition was made without advanced notice and with very few details about how it will impact Sailors. While I support efforts that make it easier for Sailors to transition to the private sector after their service, Navy traditions are very important. Sailors deserve a better understanding what the ratings change means for them now and in the future." 


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