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.
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 16, 2016) Fiscal Year 2017 chief petty officers stand at attention during a chief pinning ceremony aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Gaines/Released)
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.
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI, Japan: Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Casey Clark, assigned to Navy Munitions Command East Asia Division (NMCEAD) Atsugi, receives his combination cover during the chief petty officer pinning ceremony held at Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi’s Cinema 77. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Bawgus/Released)
2. Since 1797, only two ratings for chiefs that have remained in continuous use are boatswain’s mate and gunner’s mate.
MEDITERRANEAN SEA (Aug. 9, 2016) – Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Mumira Ferah from San Jose, Calif., gives instructions aboard USS Ross (DDG 71) during a replenishment-at-sea with the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn (T-AO 198) Aug. 9, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Theron J. Godbold/Released)
3. On March 21, 1917, Loretta Walsh became the first woman Navy petty officer when sworn in as a chief yeoman.
PACIFIC OCEAN (April 1, 2014) Chief Ship’s Serviceman Barbara Lynch, left, Chief Cryptologic Technician Technical Ashley Jones, Chief Information Systems Technician Warren Quiambao, and Chief Legalman Justin Wheeler demonstrate the wear of chief petty officer uniforms throughout history. (U.S. Navy graphic by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class George M. Bell/ Released)
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.
WASHINGTON (April 1, 2015) Command Master Chief Christian Detje, assigned to the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard, stands at ease during a celebration of the 122nd birthday of the chief petty officer rank at the United States Navy Memorial. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class George M. Bell/Released)
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.
SASEBO, Japan: Chief Navy Counselor Bethany Hale passes through sideboys after being pinned chief petty officer at the Career Education Center aboard Commander, U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David R. Krigbaum/Released)
6. There are approximately 30,000+ chief, senior chief and master chief petty officers in the Navy.
PACIFIC OCEAN (Sept. 16, 2014) Chief petty officers assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, and Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1, stand in ranks with the Chiefs Mess after they are pinned in the hangar bay aboard Carl Vinson. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class George M. Bell/Released)
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.
Gunnery Sgt. Corey Hall participates in a CPO 365 Phase II drill and cadence event during CPO Pride Week 2016 in Pearl Hawaii, Sept. 9, 2016. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Johans Chavarro/Released)
8. U.S. Navy chief petty officers are afforded more responsibility than any other enlisted rank in the world.
Chiefs combination covers lay displayed on a table prior to the arrival of the U.S. Navy’s newest chief petty officers, Sept. 19, 2009. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gary A. Prill/Released)
9. More than 50 chief petty officers have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
WASHINGTON (Feb. 29, 2016) President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honor to Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward C. Byers Jr. during a ceremony at the White House. Byers received the Medal of Honor for his actions during a hostage rescue operation in December 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Oscar Sosa/Released)
10. On average, Sailors advance to chief petty officer in about 13 years of active duty.
EVERETT, Wash. (Sept. 14, 2012) Newly-pinned chief petty officers salute during a chief petty officer pinning ceremony in the Grand Vista Ballroom at Naval Station Everett. The Naval Station welcomed 24 newly pinned Sailors to the rank of a chief petty officer during the ceremony. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeffry Willadsen/Released)