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Kriegsmarine collar for Bootsmannsmaat
Kriegsmarine insignia for Bootsmannsmaat

Maat is a naval rank of the German navy equivalent to the army rank of Unteroffizier. A Maat is considered the equivalent of a junior Petty Officer in the navies of many other nations.

The term is derived from the low German māt (comrade).[1] Via the Dutch language, the word became a nautic term and described the assistant to a deck officer. Since the second half of the 17th century Maate were the lowest class of non-commissioned officers aboard a warship. In the Prussian Navy and the Kaiserliche Marine Maate were Unteroffiziere ohne Portepee. According to their specialization, Maate would be known as e.g. Steuermannsmaat (Coxswain's Mate), Feuerwerksmaat (Ordnance Mate), Bootsmannsmaat (Boatswain's Mate) or Maschinistenmaat (Machinist's Mate).[2] Maate were recruited among conscripts who volunteered to serve for a minimum of six years. After approximately four years they could expect to become Maat. Re-enlistment was common but in most specialisms the career options would end with achieving the rank of Obermaat; only after 18 years in service a promotion as supernumary Vizefeldwebel was possible, if there was a billet open. The 1914/15 naval budget included 7857 billets for Maate and 5237 for Obermaate.[3]


  1. Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Deutschen. sv Maat
  2. Wörterbuch zur deutschen Militärgeschichte, sv Maat.
  3. Deutsche Militärgeschichte 1648-1939. Vol. VIII, p.283,285,292.

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