210. Education Afloat

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Location: Third Deck

Read directions to Enlisted Mess


Navy ships like Intrepid and Growler are floating schoolhouses. Studious sailors can strike for a rating, go for a promotion, or earn a degree.

Video: Education Afloat

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For an audio-described version, use the video below

Collection Connection

Cover of “Radarman 3 and 2 Navy Training Courses.” There are two white and blue radarman rate patches on a blue background. “Restricted” is written on the top right and bottom right corners.
Radarman 3 and 2

Naval Training Course books, better known as rate books, were the best way for sailors to advance their careers while at sea. This book was for sailors who wanted to “strike for a rating” (train for a skilled job) as a radarman or advance to radarman second class. On Intrepid, radarmen tracked and plotted nearby ships and aircraft. To learn more about radarmen, visit the combat information center (CIC) on the gallery deck.

Collection of the Intrepid Museum. A2014.08

Learn More: Getting an Education Afloat

Continuing education is a benefit of military service. Navy personnel have access to education even while out to sea. Intrepid and Growler crew members were encouraged to study to advance their careers.

To earn a promotion or change jobs, enlisted men could visit Intrepid’s Educational Services office. There, an education officer or personnelman provided sailors with Navy Training Course books. These books guided sailors through the skills and information they needed to pass the advancement test. The Education office proctored the exams each month. On the submarine Growler, qualified sailors could study in their free time. They took their tests when the boat was back in port.  

The tests for each rate reflected the duties and responsibilities of the role. Below are practice questions from the Gunner’s Mate training course book. A sailor that aspired to become a gunner’s mate third class in 1958 would prepare for the rate exam by answering questions like these:

1. Which of the following is a military requirement of the GM3’s job?

  1. Station and drill gun crews
  2. Take charge of a turret deck
  3. Know small arms and ammunition
  4. Stand a watch

2. You press the electric firing key for a gun during a transmission check, but nothing happens. You should

  1. Trace the wiring to find the fault and repair it by soldering or another method
  2. Report it to your chief for him to repair
  3. Report it to be repaired by an electrician
  4. Stop trying to fire that gun and fire another one

3. The MOST important consideration in handling ammunition is:

  1. To get it stacked in order of its age
  2. To get the loading operation completed before nightfall
  3. To stow each kind in its proper magazine or locker
  4. To observe all safety regulations

(Answers: 1. D, stand a watch; 2. A, trace the wiring; 3. D, safety regulations)

Since the 1940s, the Navy has offered high school- and college-level correspondence courses through the United States Armed Forces Institute (USAFI). These classes were only available by mail. As Intrepid left service in 1974, the Navy created Program for Afloat College Education (PACE) to offer in-person college-level classes aboard ships. For more than four decades, PACE (and its successor, NPACE) brought in-person academic instruction to Navy men and women serving at sea.

The Navy ended the instructor-led arm of NPACE in 2019. However, the program lives on through virtual learning options. Like remote learning for some school children during the COVID-19 pandemic, distance learning in the Navy relies on an asynchronous digital classroom. Sailors download their course materials before they leave port and work at their own pace.

Panel Photo: This is a description of the image printed on the panel for this stop at the museum.
Photo description: Cover of “Commissaryman 3 and 2 Navy Training Course.” There is a drawing of a commissaryman working in the kitchen on a blue background.Caption: Commissaryman 3 and 2 Training Course, 1963Credit: Gift of Wilmer C. Lindley. A2014.18.01


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