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Bootsmann was a highest-ranking Petty Officer position in German naval forces. A lower-ranking Bootsmann was called Bootsmannsmaat. These names were adopted for the Russian Navy as боцман and боцманмат by Peter the Great, among many other Prussian and Holland military ranks; they were initially treated as positions rather than ranks. The army and air force equivalent is a Feldwebel.

In the modern German Navy, Bootsmann is a senior NCO rank. There are the following Bootsmann ranks:

The navy of the German Democratic Republic (Volksmarine) however, did not use the designation Bootsmann, yet the rank was called Meister (master) instead.

The rank of a Bootsmann is usually achieved after at least three years of service, requiring the completion of several training courses (Lehrgänge).

In the German merchant marine, the word Bootsmann means boatswain. The position, however, is not filled anymore on most German ships; his work has usually been taken over by the Schiffsbetriebsmeister (literally: master of ship operations).


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