Operations Specialist (US Navy)

Operations Specialist (US Navy)
Operations Specialist
Rating Badge OS.jpg
Rating insignia
Issued by: United States Navy

United States Coast Guard

Type Enlisted rating
Abbreviation OS
Specialty Technical

Operations Specialist (abbreviated as OS) is a United States Navy occupational rating.


Brief history

The rating started from the Radarman rating. When the Radarman rating was split up to ET's,OS's and EW's the rating badge continued to be used by the Operations Specialist. It symbolizes an Oscilloscope.


Operations Specialists at work

Operations Specialists aboard U.S. Navy combat vessels work in the Combat Information Center (CIC) aka: Combat, the tactical "nerve center" of the ship. Using a wide variety of assets available to them, they are responsible for the organized collection, processing, display, competent evaluation and rapid dissemination of pertinent tactical combat information to command and control stations, upon which sound tactical decisions may be made. They maintain Combat Information Center (CIC) displays of strategic and tactical information, including various plotting boards and tables depicting position and movement of submarines, ships and aircraft as well as tote boards containing data relevant to the tactical picture. They operate surveillance, tracking and height-finding radars, Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) equipment, and computerized consoles and peripheral equipment that allows them interface with the Aegis combat system. They operate encrypted and non-encrypted long and short range radiotelephone equipment as well as intraship communication systems.

With specialized training, they also may serve as combat air controllers for helicopters and fixed-wing supersonic jet aircraft in both anti-submarine (ASAC) and air intercept (AIC) roles, and serve as watch supervisors and section leaders. Operations Specialists assist in navigation through plotting and monitoring the ship's position using satellite and other electronic navigation resources as well as fixing the ship's position near landfall using radar imaging.

They interpret and evaluate presentations and tactical situations and make recommendations to the Commanding Officer (CO), CIC Watch Officer, Tactical Action Officer (TAO), Officer Of The Deck (OOD), or any of their commissioned officer surrogates during watch conditions. They apply a thorough knowledge of doctrine and procedures applicable to CIC operations contained in U. S. Navy Instructions and Allied or U.S. Navy Publications. Operations Specialists are responsible for maintaining the physical space of CIC as well as performing minor planned maintenance care of the equipment they operate. A Secret security clearance is required for this rating.

They provide to the command technical information and assistance related to Anti-Surface Warfare, Anti-Air Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare, Amphibious Warfare, Mine Warfare, Naval Gunfire Support, Search and Rescue operations, radar and dead reckoning navigation, overt intelligence gathering and transmittal, and other matters pertaining to the Operations Specialist's area. They also have a working knowledge of protocols and procedures in Electronic Warfare, though this area is normally covered by its own occupational rating.


The duties performed by Operations Specialists include:

  • operate a variety of computer-interfaced detection, tracking and height-finding radars
  • plot a ship's position, heading, and speed, using computerized or manual trigonometric methods
  • maintain a tactical picture of the surrounding seas by plotting and maintaining a visual representation of ships, submarines and aircraft in the area, including friendly, neutral, hostile and civilian contacts
  • use secure and non-secure radio in communicating, in plain voice or coded signals, with other air, sea or land units to coordinate tactical and combat evolutions
  • operate common marine electronic navigation instruments including radar and satellite systems, plot own ship's position and movement on charts and make recommendations in navigation to the Officer Of The Deck
  • provide target plotting data to the Command and Control based on information received from target tracking devices
  • make recommendations to Command and Control regarding tactical and combat procedures
  • assist in coordination and control of landing craft during amphibious assaults
  • communicate with spotters, plot and make calculations to adjust fire during Naval Gunfire Support missions
  • coordinate and assist in plotting and ship maneuvers for emergency evolutions such as man overboard and other search and rescue (SAR) activities
  • provide assisted and direct air control of combat aircraft in anti-air and anti-submarine warfare


See also

The job of an Operations Specialist can be very intense and stressful while the ship is underway. They need to be able to think quickly, drawing on a large reserve of tactical and procedural knowledge and be able make calculations on the fly in the fast-paced and information-saturated environment of naval combat operations.


  1. ^ "Navy enlisted manpower and personnel classifications". Bureau of Naval Personnel. US Navy. http://buperscd.technology.navy.mil/bup_updt/508/OccStandards/OccStd_Menu.htm. Retrieved 2007-01-11. 

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