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.
Congratulate our chief petty officers, past and present, for their 124 years of deckplate leadership by leaving a comment below.
April 1 marks 124 years of deckplate leadership by our Navy chiefs. Navy General Order 409 established the rank of chief petty officer in 1893.
As we approached the birthday of the Navy chief, we asked our Facebook fans what their chief taught them about integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness. Below are some of their responses. After you’ve read them, add to the list by commenting at the end of this blog.
“Integrity and accountability was the corner stone for everything. Without that, you can’t be a leader especially if no one will believe or you blame everything on others. These two things allowed you to have the toughness to be Innovative and make a change. “
“My dad is my chief, senior chief in fact! He taught me about integrity, work ethic, the importance of knowing how to swim and how to lead by example. He’s an incredible man, retired after 22 years of service, and I couldn’t be more proud to have him as my dad! “
“The chief that made a difference in my life was when I was in deck division, hated it there – severely mismanaged bunch of misfits. Sucked all the life out of me even wanting to be in the military. Was standing watch one day as MOOW and my OOD was our QMC. He tried to talk to me about what my goals were and I told him I hated the Navy and couldn’t wait to get out. He told me that was too bad because I had a very good record and reputation around the ship. Then he said if I wanted to strike QM and work for him and give him 100% and then when it was time for me to get out and I still wanted to, he would shake my hand and thank me for everything and he’d carry my sea bag down the pier for me. It was the first time anyone believed in me and I did not want to disappoint him. That started me on a 24 year career that I loved. I retired at 2010 as a QMCS and thanked him in my retirement speech for being the difference in my career. I did all I could to do the same for my Sailors, because they were worth it.”
“My chief was my father. … He taught me to stand up for myself and for what I believe. He taught me dedication, a work ethic and pride in a job well done because he served for 22 years. He remained true to the oath he took from the day he enlisted until the day he died. He showed me what it means to be an American and to honor all who serve to protect the freedoms we enjoy as Americans.”
“My chiefs taught me to always take responsibility for my actions and lead from the front. The old goats said I’d see chiefs and E7, 8, 9 who never would be a chief only a pay grade. Those were the ones only out for themselves and cared little about their troops. I like to think I was a chief and never forgot where I came from. Shined lots of brass and scrubbed many a deck plate with my BTs as chief. Thanks to them I had a great 27 years.”
“Gotta give a huge shout out to one of the best men, best influences, most respected and one of the greatest mentors I have ever had my entire Navy career MMC Walker. Happy birthday chief! And thank you for everything you did for me while I served alongside of you. And if the calling ever came again to serve alongside of you I would proudly do so with no hesitation or questions asked. I will follow you anywhere chief! But mostly thank you and happy birthday!”
What did your Navy chief teach you about integrity, accountability, initiative and toughness? Tell us in the comments below.