The United States Navy Chief Petty Officer ~ Established April 1, 1893

On Sunday, April 1, the United States Navy will celebrate the 119th birthday of the Chief Petty Officer (CPO) rank.  The CPO is a senior enlisted, non-commissioned officer (NCO) at the pay grades of E-7 (Chief Petty Officer), E-8 (Senior Chief Petty Officer) and E-9 (Master Chief Petty Officer).  Typically, these sailors have been in the Navy for at least twelve years, although some hard-charging sailors can reach this rank in as little as nine or ten years.  CPO’s are, in essence, the middle managers of the Navy.  While commissioned officers are in charge of the department, ship or shore station, and are ultimately accountable for the performance of the entire unit, the Navy Chief is in charge of getting the work done through the junior enlisted sailors.  Also, CPO’s often train junior officers, especially when they first report for duty on their first ship.  Although newly commissioned officers have a newly received college degree, they are unfamiliar with the workings of a Naval ship or submarine, as well as the tasks of the department or crew their assigned to.

Although the pay grades of E-7 through E-9 are equivalent to those of other services, the Navy is unique in that it confers much more authority and responsibility on the Chief, while demanding more performance and results than any of the other services.  Advancement into the CPO grades is the most significant promotion within the enlisted Naval ranks.  Typically, when a Petty Officer First Class and lower ranks go up for advancement, they are promoted based on an advancement examination score.  However, when a Sailor makes “Chief,” the candidate must pass the written examination, be selected by a special board made up of Senior and Master Chief Petty Officers, and Commissioned Officers, and then the selectee is “Appointed” by the Bureau of Naval Personnel, and “initiated” into the ranks of the Chief Petty Officers.

A Chief Petty Officer, no matter how much he was on a “first name” basis with other petty officers before promotion, is always addressed as “Chief” by subordinates and superiors.  When a sailor has a problem, or is in a crisis situation, he or she goes to “Ask The Chief.”  CPO’s often are the instrument of swift decision, and are always relied on to get things done; visible leaders who set the tone.  And, they are generally charged with keeping good order and discipline within the lower enlisted ranks.

CPO’s provide leadership to the enlisted force and advice to Navy leadership to create combat-ready Naval Forces.  They are the senior enlisted force that serves first and foremost as deckplate leaders committed to developing sailors and enforcing standards.  The term “deckplate leaders” is a slang, everyday Navy term referring to the Chief Petty Officer’s leadership.  In naval terminology, the deckplate can roughly refer to the deck (“flooring”), or the area of the deck of a ship or submarine.  Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) (2005 to 2007) and former Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) (2007 to 2011), stressed the importance of deckplate leadership in a podcasted message to the Navy’s newest Chief Petty Officers in the fall of 2007 when he said, “You can’t be a Chief from behind a computer screen or in an email or even on the phone.  You’ve got to be there, out on the deckplates with your people and their families. You’ve got to walk the spaces. It’s the first principle of naval leadership.”

In an interview for All Hands magazine’s March 26 Update for the Pentagon Channel, former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON), John L. Herdt (Ret.) (the ninth MCPON – 1998 to 2002) spoke of the responsibilities of being a Chief, and of being a leader, saying, “As a Chief Petty Officer, there is never a day, when you put on that uniform, that you don’t have the ability to swing your legs out of the rack, put your feet on the deck, and go make a positive difference in a sailor’s life.  You can do that every day for your entire career.  Whether or not you choose to do it is going to determine whether or not you’re a good Chief, or just a Chief.”

Navy Chiefs have their own creed and their own fraternity, and their profession is filled with tradition dating back 119 years.  Active duty and retired alike, Navy Chiefs are the ones who have set the example and “make it happen” in the Navy.  They are bound and dedicated to their duty as leaders forever.  Tested ~ Selected ~ Initiated.  Happy birthday to ALL Navy Chiefs!!!

*Related Post —> The U.S. Navy ‘Year of the Chief’ Kicks Off (posted 3 April 2012)


MCPON 2012 CPO Birthday Message


 United States Navy Chief Petty Officer Creed

During the course of this day you have been caused to humbly accept challenge and face adversity. This you have accomplished with rare good grace. Pointless as some of these challenges may have seemed, there were valid, time-honored reasons behind each pointed barb. It was necessary to meet these hurdles with blind faith in the fellowship of Chief Petty Officers. The goal was to instill in you that trust is inherent with the donning of the uniform of a Chief. It was our intent to impress upon you that challenge is good; a great and necessary reality which cannot mar you – which, in fact, strengthens you. In your future as a Chief Petty Officer., you will be forced to endure adversity far beyond that imposed upon you today. You must face each challenge and adversity with the same dignity and good grace you demonstrated today. By experience, by performance, and by testing, you have been this day advanced to Chief Petty Officer. In the United States Navy – and only in the United States Navy – the rank of E7 carries with it unique responsibilities and privileges you are now bound to observe and expected to fulfill. Your entire way of life is now changed. More will be expected of you; more will be demanded of you. Not because you are a E7 but because you are now a Chief Petty Officer. You have not merely been promoted one paygrade, you have joined an exclusive fellowship and, as in all fellowships, you have a special responsibility to your comrades, even as they have a special responsibility to you. This is why we in the United States Navy may maintain with pride our feelings of accomplishment once we have attained the position of Chief Petty Officer. Your new responsibilities and privileges do not appear in print. They have no official standing; they cannot be referred to by name, number, nor file. They have existed for over 100 years, Chiefs before you have freely accepted responsibility beyond the call of printed assignment. Their actions and their performance demanded the respect of their seniors as well as their juniors. It is now required that you be the fountain of wisdom, the ambassador of good will, the authority in personal relations as well as in technical applications. “Ask the Chief” is a household phrase in and out of the Navy. You are now the Chief. The exalted position you have now achieved – and the word exalted is used advisedly – exists because of the attitude and performance of the Chiefs before you. It shall exist only as long as you and your fellow Chiefs maintain these standards. It was our intention that you never forget this day. It was our intention to test you, to try you, and to accept you. Your performance has assured us that you will wear “the hat” with the same pride as your comrades in arms before you. We take a deep and sincere pleasure in clasping your hand, and accepting you as a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy.


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Related Articles –

History of the Chief Petty Officer Grade (

When God Made the Navy Chief Petty Officer (

Management By Walking About (

Happy Birthday Chief’s: Navy Chief Petty Officers Celebrate 119 Years of Service (

Sources –

Chief Petty Officer (United States) – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia – – Accessed 30 March 2012 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia –

Hagan, John, and J. F. Leahy. The Chief Petty Officer’s Guide. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute, 2004. Print.
The U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer – Gonzo’s Garage (The CPO Page) – – Accessed 30 March 2012 – Gonzo’s Garage (Navy Page) – – Gonzo’s Garage (Main Page) –
The Goat Locker (Chief Petty Officer) – Accessed 30 March 2012 – The Goat Locker –
Chief Petty Officer Resource Links – Accessed 30 March 2012 – The Goat Locker –
Congrats, Chief! Anchors Pinned Worldwide- Navy Times – By Mark D. Faram (staff writer) – Posted Friday, September 21, 2007 – – Accessed 30 March 2012 – Navy Times –
Navy Memorial Spotlights Year of the Chief – All Hands Update Mar. 26, 2012 #3 – U.S. Navy – Posted March 26, 2012 – – Accessed 30 March 2012 – YouTube –

24 Responses to “The United States Navy Chief Petty Officer ~ Established April 1, 1893”

  1. Excellent presentations and on behalf of all CPOs everywhere, I thank you and salute you for telling our story! Fair winds and following seas. HMCS(SS) Richard T. MacDonald, USN, retired


    • Rick, As a Navy Veteran myself, I know and feel the tradition and heritage of the Navy Chief. I never was one, but always admired many. When I began this post, I realized that, no matter how much I wrote about the Navy Chief, I would be leaving something out. To write about the Navy Chief story, I would have to write a book. I left out a lot about their leadership, mentorship and ambassadorship within the Navy organization. I know you know what I mean. I wish I could have written more.

      By the way, check out the additional articles and sources. Those websites are interesting. Thanks for your kind words.



      • Thanks again, Dale. I understand fully what you said and appreciate the added sources. I liked your article so much that I’ve regenerated its beginning on my site to get my readers to visit your’s for more information and an introduction to your fabulous blog on leadership.

        Once again, shipmate, thank you for all that you do, for your service and for your continued support to honor, tradition and unquestioned devotion to your fellow sailors.


  2. […] via The United States Navy Chief Petty Officer ~ Established April 1, 1893 « Command Performance Leader…. […]


  3. Nonselectee Says:

    Blow me.


    • Those of you who frequent my blog, and those who may be here for the first time, might be surprised that I approved this comment. I just wanted you to see the type of people who are bitter that they never earned the honor of the rank of Chief.

      “Nonselectee,” to your comment…I was in the Navy, but not THAT Navy!!!



  4. Jose LugoSantiago - Craft Your Journey! Says:

    Happy Birthday to the Chief Petty Officers! I have the opportunity to work with them, a corps rich in tradition and totally committed up and down the chain of command. We’re all very proud of their accomplishments on behalf of our nation. Hooah!


  5. Chester White Says:

    Thank you all for your service. It is greatly appreciated.


  6. Enjoyed studying this, very good stuff, thanks .


  7. […] The United States Navy Chief Petty Officer ~ Established April 1, 1893 has become one of the most popular posts on this blog.  Since I posted it on Friday night, it has had over 1,000 page views, and many comments and “Likes,” as well as over 750 Facebook shares.  Since the topic is hot, and many who frequent my blog share the heritage of the Navy Chief, as well as those who have served in the United States Navy, I wanted to share with you some relevant and timely news and information about how the Navy is celebrating this special occasion.  Below, you will see an article posted today on the Navy’s website about the kick-off of “The Year of the Chief.”  Following the article, I have compiled a variety of links to various articles about celebrations around the Navy to commemorate the 119th birthday of the Navy Chief Petty Officer. […]


  8. Thank you for your interesting a very informative blog!


  9. […] The United States Navy Chief Petty Officer ~ Established April 1, 1893. […]


  10. thevanbrown Says:

    I appreciated this. My father retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer. I served in the SeaBees in Vietnam. With no disrespect for the Civil Engineer Corps, I was particularly grateful for the leadership shown by a couple of Chiefs who were pretty much in charge of business.


    • Thank you for your comment, and thank you for your service to our Country. Being a Seabee in Vietnam must’ve been difficult; dodging incoming fire, while building airstrips, roads and other infrastructure for our military forces. The Chief Petty Officers are certainly the backbone of our Navy. It is often times not the officer-in-charge of a department or project that is in the lead, it is the Navy Chief leading the men and women, due to their greater knowledge and experience. Thanks, again, for your comment.



  11. […] petty officer rank during a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington. D.C., on April 1. The rank was created in 1893 and Navy chiefs have been leading sailors ever since. We wonder who yelled at the blue jackets and […]


  12. logo

    Effective 10 June 2013 the state of SC is making a special license plate available to all active duty and retired US Navy Chief Petty Officers in South Carolina. Note: This plate is available by mail only. Please use the two required documents linked below.

    The plate costs $60 (for two years) plus the regular registration. Proceeds from the sale of this plate will be distributed to Patriots Point Foundation and used to preserve the heritage of the ships and displays of the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum in beautiful Charleston Harbor. This plate is available by mail only for cars and trucks only, no motorcycles.

    CPO Plate

    Documents for download:

    Official Announcement

    SCDMV documents to apply for the plate There is an MV-37 form and a letter of eligibility. You can fill in the forms from your computer, then print, or print a blank form and fill in with pen. If you have any questions, please email them to Patriots Point Foundation with “SC Chief’s Plate” in the subject.


  13. CarrieAnn Says:

    We are coming upon that time of year again… I am proud to serve and work hard to earn my chance to wear the anchors! 🙂


  14. Walter Buck HMC/USN/RET Says:

    HOOYAH, The Navy Chief est. 1893 and still going strong today,, and will be here, through any hook and crook, that might happen in the future. Keep charging and have fun, when fun is deserved, and work hard to keep the junior enlisted, and the junior officers knowledgeable of their rank and rate.


  15. Alicia Harrison Says:

    Hello, I was doing some searches on the internet to write a paper for one of my college classes. I’m a Senior Chief and I’ve been in the Navy for 21 years. Just wanted to say thanks for the website and the recognition to CPOs.


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