BREMERTON, WA, UNITED STATES
The U.S. Navy announced the renaming of the ship’s serviceman (SH) rating to retail services specialist (RS) in NAVADMIN 226/19, released Sept. 30.
“It’s great that we can recognize the job that our Sailors are doing,” said Cmdr. Timothy Freeman, supply department head aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). “This change validates the work these Sailors put in on a daily basis. RSs are the backbone of morale on a ship in peace and war time operations.”
Retail service specialists on Nimitz man the ship’s coffee shop, store, laundry facilities and barber shop.
“The Navy is setting the rate up for success,” said Freeman. “It has been well accepted by the Sailors on board and I think it’s a positive change.”
Changing a rate’s name may come as a shock for some, but the Navy is making the switch to better align the rate with its civilian sector counterparts.
“Even with the change of the rate’s name, the one thing that doesn’t change is morale out at sea,” said Freeman. “There is no comparison to the morale boosting efforts that the retail service specialist can provide.”
“My job is to make sure the Sailors on Nimitz have the comforts of home,” said Retail Service Specialist 2nd Class Liza Pangborn. “To some, we just make coffee or operate the ship’s store, but to the Sailors we serve with we offer normalcy out at sea. That means a lot to me because my shipmates sacrifice so much and we’re able to give them a morale boost.”
Sailors don’t get all the little conveniences out at sea as they would back on land, but retail service specialists on Nimitz try to make a difference.
“We see over 500 Sailors a day underway,” said Pangborn. “They’re sleepy while they put their order in and the moment they have that first sip of coffee you can see the change in mood.”
Retail service specialists can also be found working in the ship’s store, facilitating the sales of a variety of items from snacks, cold beverages, and personal care items.
“I found out the store had my favorite flavor of energy drink,” said Personnel Specialist 3rd Class Marshaun Tatum. “That was a surprise since it’s an odd flavor but it’s a great thing to have while underway.”
Sailors also need to maintain grooming standards underway. The perfect place for that is in the Nimitz barbershop.
“I’ve had my hair cut multiple times by our RS’s,” said Tatum, “They always come through with a solid haircut.”
Not only are haircuts essential to Sailors but so are clean linens and uniforms. The Sailors that work in the ship’s laundry provide that service to Nimitz.
“I wake up on clean linen and put on fresh uniforms thanks to them,” said Tatum, “There’s nothing better than having a clean uniform underway. They provide a service that is integral to the crew and its morale; I’m glad we have them and their services.”
Whether it’s a haircut, coffee, laundry or snacks, retail service specialists are here to serve the men and woman on Nimitz. Though the rate has a new name, the mission of the rate remains unchanged. The ship’s serviceman tradition will live on every day on board Nimitz with the work done by retail service specialists.