Yeomen are the enlisted members of the U.S. Navy who manage the mountains of paper on which the Navy depends. Like administrative assistants or office managers, they answer phones, maintain and update records and publications, prepare correspondence, and work with a variety of office equipment. Their insignia -- a pair of crossed quills -- is appropriate because their clerical and administrative duties are those of a record keeper, both ashore and at sea.
Above or Below
The yeoman rating is split into two specialties. The YN rating is the yeoman who works on surface ships and at shore stations. The YNS rating is a yeoman submariner, a yeoman who works at shore stations but who, when assigned to sea duty, goes aboard a submarine. Shore duty and sea duty alternate for both specialties. Because a U.S. Navy yeoman, either the YN or YNS rating, may handle documents or work on projects requiring a security clearance, all yeomen must be U.S. citizens.
Whether a YN or YNS, a yeoman will operate all of the equipment found in a modern office, including computers, copy machines and fax machines. The basic training for a yeoman -- called Yeoman "A" school -- is conducted at the Naval Technical Training Center in Meridian, Mississippi. It's a self-paced course that includes both computerized instruction and practical, hands-on instruction in a variety of administrative areas. Training also includes both general and Navy-specific office practices and record-keeping requirements.
YNS Duty Tours
Tours of sea duty for yeomen on submarines -- a YNS -- are officially 36 months in length, but this doesn't mean they spend three years at sea. It means that they are assigned to a ship for 36 months, then assigned to a shore facility -- a U.S. Navy base or Naval Station. During tours of sea duty, they conform to a submarine's crew-change schedule. Every submarine has two complete crews. One crew goes to sea for 70 days, while the other crew goes home for 70 days. This allows the boat to stay at sea as much as possible and maximizes each crew's effectiveness.
YN Duty Tours
Yeomen who don't serve aboard a submarine follow their "A" school with a 36-month assignment to a surface ship, followed by 48 months of shore duty. This is followed by 46 months assigned to a ship. After 12 years in the Navy, a yeoman's assignments will rotate between shore stations and a ship every 36 months for the rest of his career with the Navy.