Effectively running and fighting a warship relies on bridging the gap between officers and enlisted personnel. It was from this need that the creation of the rank of chief petty officer was born.
The chief petty officer as it is recognized today was officially established April 1, 1893. Armed with official recognition, chiefs of the past went on to lay the foundation for their modern day counterparts.
Below are 10 things that you should know about U.S. Navy chief petty officers.
1. The earliest known use of the title “chief” dates back to 1776 when Jacob Wasbie, a cook’s mate, was pronounced “Chief Cook” aboard USS Alfred. The title was largely informal and was used to denote him as the foremost cook aboard the ship.
2. Since 1797, only two ratings for chiefs that have remained in continuous use are boatswain’s mate and gunner’s mate.
3. On March 21, 1917, Loretta Walsh became the first woman Navy petty officer when sworn in as a chief yeoman.
4. The advent of a rocker device was the first distinction and was originally borrowed from the master-at-arms rating and became official in 1894. The foul anchor cap device was approved in 1905, and collar devices became official in 1959.
5. By 1941, all chief petty officers were authorized to wear khaki working uniforms. ALNAV 16 (Feb. 21, 1941) authorized khaki working uniforms for all chief petty officers and officers serving on all ships and shore stations.
6. There are approximately 30,000+ chief, senior chief and master chief petty officers in the Navy.
7. A chief petty officer is equivalent to a gunnery sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, sergeant first class in the U.S. Army, and a master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force.
8. U.S. Navy chief petty officers are afforded more responsibility than any other enlisted rank in the world.
9. More than 50 chief petty officers have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
10. On average, Sailors advance to chief petty officer in about 13 years of active duty.