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Army watercraft engineers are basically mechanics who perform maintenance and repairs on boats and amphibious vessels as well as any equipment, such as hoists, attached to the craft. The job carries a military occupational specialty code of 88L, and soldiers with this MOS are part of the transportation corps. Enlisted soldiers who meet the basic qualifications can choose this MOS on either active duty or reserve status.
Maintenance and Repair Duties
Watercraft engineers work on both gasoline and diesel engines. They perform routine maintenance on crafts and equipment, such as inspecting boilers, lubricating parts and performing general upkeep. They troubleshoot problems with engines, electrical systems, pumps, fuel systems and hydraulics and then make repairs. Tasks may be as simple as replacing a battery or as complex as overhauling an engine.
A variety of watch duties are part of a watercraft engineer’s job. They must stand watch in the engine room while underway, monitoring gauges and instruments and adjusting the vessel’s throttle controls as needed. When the vessel drops anchor, they may stand anchor watch whether the vessel is anchored offshore or dockside.
Watercraft engineers record the readings observed during engine room and throttle watches in log books. They maintain records of repairs made, maintenance performed and parts used. Watercraft engineers maintain logs of fuel consumed while underway. They also compute the fuel needed to reach a destination prior to getting underway, and at periodic intervals, they compute the balance of fuel needed to complete the trip. They may also prepare operating procedures for required maintenance, maintain a log of modifications to the vessel or equipment, prepare work schedules for subordinate personnel or write recommendations for improvements to equipment.
To qualify as a watercraft engineer, candidates must score at least 99 on the mechanical maintenance section of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, a test required as part of the enlistment process for all soldiers. Enlistees must be legal U.S. citizens between the ages of 17 and 34. Candidates must be high school graduates or have earned a GED and at least 15 college credits. The Army may help you earn those college credits. Recruits must pass a physical, drug screen and criminal background check. A felony conviction is always an automatic bar to enlistment. Candidates typically cannot enlist if they have more than two dependents. Preparation for the job involves 10 weeks of basic combat training and an additional 10 weeks of advanced skills education.
Each year, the Department of Defense sets a salary table for military basic pay that reflects the service member’s rank and years of service. Enlisted pay grades range from E-1 to E-9. As of 2013, most soldiers enter the Army with a pay grade of E-1 and monthly basic pay of $1,402.20 for the first four months, then increasing to $1,516.20. The Army provides on-base housing and food, and if soldiers are allowed to live off base, they can receive a monthly allowance for these expenses. Housing allowances depend on family status, rank and location and can vary widely. Food or subsistence allowances are determined by the number of people in the family. Enlisted soldiers are also eligible for an annual clothing allowance to cover the cost and maintenance of uniforms. Other special pays or allowances may apply, based on assignment or location.
Jeffrey Joyner has had numerous articles published on the Internet covering a wide range of topics. He studied electrical engineering after a tour of duty in the military, then became a freelance computer programmer for several years before settling on a career as a writer.