BT – Boiler Technician

BT – Boiler Technician

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Paul Reuter and Peter T Yeschenko


Trivia: What was a US Navy Boiler Technician and what was the origin of that rate?!

ANSWER: The Boiler Technician aka BT rating traced its roots back to the 19th century and the ascent of steam-powered naval ships at the end of the Age of Sail.

The rating Boilermaker was established in 1869 and was changed to Machinist 2c in 1884, the same year the related Water Tender rating was established and Boilermaker was re-established.

In 1948, both Water Tender and Boilermaker were merged into a new Boilerman rating. This rating lasted for nearly 30 years before being changed to Boiler Technician in 1976.

Boiler Technicians were responsible for the inspection, maintenance, and repair of everything involved in a steam-propulsion system.

Water and fuel inventories had to be maintained at appropriate levels, and fuel required testing to ensure proper quality.

Machining skills were necessary to maintain and repair equipment; failure to do so could cost not only the life of the BT but also the ship’s crew.

Reflecting on the evolution of naval propulsion systems away from steam power, the Boiler Technician rating was disestablished in 1996 and converted to Machinist’s Mate.


One thought on “BT – Boiler Technician

  1. My great uncle was a BT during WWII on DD’s in the Pacific. I am told he was at Midway and beyond, but he passed long before I could ever ask him about it.

    At any rate, in 1976, my Dad was the Corps Officer at The Salvation Army in Pueblo, CO, which had an old boiler for heat that was just a nightmare to run and maintain.

    Dad spent a few hours with Uncle Mick who showed him everything that needed to be done and after that, not a problem at all. He even wrote up a small manual for it to pass on when Dad left the unit.

    Gotta love BTs!


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