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Chief Petty Officer

Chief Petty Officer

Overview
A chief petty officer is a senior non-commissioned officer
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

 in many navies and coast guards.

"Chief Petty Officer" refers to two ranks in the Canadian Navy
Canadian Forces Maritime Command
The Royal Canadian Navy , is the naval force of Canada. The RCN is one of three environmental commands within the unified Canadian Forces. Operating 33 warships and several auxiliary vessels, the Royal Canadian Navy consists of 8,500 Regular Force and 5,100 Primary Reserve sailors, supported by...

. Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class
Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class
Chief petty officer, 2nd class, CPO2, is a Naval non-commissioned member rank of the Canadian Forces. It is senior to the rank of petty officer 1st-class and its equivalents, and junior to chief petty officer 1st-class and its equivalents...

 (CPO2) (Premier maître de deuxième classe or pm2 in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

) is equivalent to a Master Warrant Officer
Master Warrant Officer
Master warrant officer is a senior military rank in the Canadian Forces, Singapore Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces.-Canadian Forces:...

 in the Army and Air Force, and Chief Petty Officer 1st Class
Chief Petty Officer 1st Class
Chief petty officer, 1st class, CPO1, is the most senior non-commissioned member rank of the Royal Canadian Navy. It is equivalent to a chief warrant officer in the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force...

 (CPO1) (Premier maître de première classe or pm1) is equivalent to a Chief Warrant Officer in the Army and Air Force.
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Encyclopedia
A chief petty officer is a senior non-commissioned officer
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

 in many navies and coast guards.

Canada


"Chief Petty Officer" refers to two ranks in the Canadian Navy
Canadian Forces Maritime Command
The Royal Canadian Navy , is the naval force of Canada. The RCN is one of three environmental commands within the unified Canadian Forces. Operating 33 warships and several auxiliary vessels, the Royal Canadian Navy consists of 8,500 Regular Force and 5,100 Primary Reserve sailors, supported by...

. Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class
Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class
Chief petty officer, 2nd class, CPO2, is a Naval non-commissioned member rank of the Canadian Forces. It is senior to the rank of petty officer 1st-class and its equivalents, and junior to chief petty officer 1st-class and its equivalents...

 (CPO2) (Premier maître de deuxième classe or pm2 in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

) is equivalent to a Master Warrant Officer
Master Warrant Officer
Master warrant officer is a senior military rank in the Canadian Forces, Singapore Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces.-Canadian Forces:...

 in the Army and Air Force, and Chief Petty Officer 1st Class
Chief Petty Officer 1st Class
Chief petty officer, 1st class, CPO1, is the most senior non-commissioned member rank of the Royal Canadian Navy. It is equivalent to a chief warrant officer in the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force...

 (CPO1) (Premier maître de première classe or pm1) is equivalent to a Chief Warrant Officer in the Army and Air Force. In spoken references, Chief Petty Officers may be addressed as "Chief" but are never addressed as "Sir".

United Kingdom


In the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

, the rank of Chief Petty Officer comes above that of Petty Officer
Petty Officer
A petty officer is a non-commissioned officer in many navies and is given the NATO rank denotion OR-6. They are equal in rank to sergeant, British Army and Royal Air Force. A Petty Officer is superior in rank to Leading Rate and subordinate to Chief Petty Officer, in the case of the British Armed...

 and below that of Warrant Officer Class 2. It is the equivalent of Colour Sergeant
Colour Sergeant
Colour sergeant or colour serjeant is a non-commissioned title in the Royal Marines and infantry regiments of the British Army, ranking above sergeant and below warrant officer class 2....

 in the Royal Marines
Royal Marines
The Corps of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, commonly just referred to as the Royal Marines , are the marine corps and amphibious infantry of the United Kingdom and, along with the Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary, form the Naval Service...

, Staff Sergeant
Staff Sergeant
Staff sergeant is a rank of non-commissioned officer used in several countries.The origin of the name is that they were part of the staff of a British army regiment and paid at that level rather than as a member of a battalion or company.-Australia:...

 in the Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, and Flight Sergeant
Flight Sergeant
Flight sergeant is a senior non-commissioned rank in the British Royal Air Force and several other air forces which have adopted all or part of the RAF rank structure...

 in the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

. There is also the rate for Charge Chief Petty Officers for technical specialists called 'Artificers'.

United States


Chief Petty Officer is the seventh enlisted rank in the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and U.S. Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

, just above Petty Officer First Class
Petty Officer First Class
Good conductvariation,12 years or moreof good conductPetty officerfirst classinsigniaU.S. Navy &U.S. Coast GuardPetty officer, first class is the sixth enlisted rank in the U.S. Navy and U.S...

 and below Senior Chief Petty Officer
Senior Chief Petty Officer
U.S. Coast GuardSenior ChiefPetty Officercollar deviceU.S. Coast GuardSenior ChiefPetty OfficerinsigniaGood conductvariationSenior ChiefPetty OfficerinsigniaSenior ChiefPetty Officercollar device...

, and is a senior non-commissioned officer
Non-commissioned officer
A non-commissioned officer , called a sub-officer in some countries, is a military officer who has not been given a commission...

. The grade of Chief Petty Officer was established on April 1, 1893 for the Navy. The United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 first authorized the Coast Guard to use the promotion to Chief Petty Officer on 18 May 1920.

Unlike Petty Officer First Class and lower ranks, advancement to Chief Petty Officer not only carries requirements of time in service, superior evaluation scores, and specialty examinations, but also carries an added requirement of peer review
Peer review
Peer review is a process of self-regulation by a profession or a process of evaluation involving qualified individuals within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards, improve performance and provide credibility...

. A Chief Petty Officer can only advance after review by a selection board of serving Senior and Master Chief Petty Officers, in effect "choosing their own" and conversely not choosing others.

Advancement into the Chief Petty Officer grades is the most significant promotion within the enlisted naval ranks. At the rank of Chief, the Sailor takes on more administrative duties. In the Navy, their uniform changes to reflect this change of duty, becoming identical to that of an officer's uniform except with different insignia. Sailors in the three Chief Petty Officer ranks also have conspicuous privileges such as separate dining and living areas. Any naval vessel of sufficient size has a room or rooms that are off-limits to anyone not a Chief (including officers) except by specific invitation (if one is invited to eat in the Chief's Mess, it is customary to eat everything on the plate no matter what condiments are added by members of the Chief's Mess to enhance one's dining experience). In Navy jargon, this room is called the Chief's Mess, or tongue in cheek, the "goat locker
Goat locker
In navy jargon, the goat locker is a lounge, sleeping area and galley on board a naval vessel which is reserved for the exclusive use of Chief Petty Officers...

". In addition, a Chief Petty Officer, no matter how much he was on "first name" basis with other petty officers before promotion, is always addressed as "Chief" by subordinates and superiors.

Chief Petty Officers serve a dual role as both technical experts and as leaders, with the emphasis being more on leadership as they progress through the CPO ranks. A recognized, collateral duty for all Chiefs is the training of Junior Officers. Like Petty Officers, every Chief has both a rate (rank) and rating (job, similar to an MOS in other branches). A Chief's full title is a combination of the two. Thus, a Chief Petty Officer who has the rating of Gunner's Mate
Gunner's Mate
The United States Navy occupational rating of gunner's mate also known as gunsmens mate is a designation given by the Bureau of Naval Personnel to enlisted sailors who either satisfactorily complete initial Gunner's Mate "A" school training, or who "strike" for the rating as a deck seaman by...

 would properly be called a Chief Gunner's Mate.

Each rating has an official abbreviation, such as QM for Quartermaster
Quartermaster
Quartermaster refers to two different military occupations depending on if the assigned unit is land based or naval.In land armies, especially US units, it is a term referring to either an individual soldier or a unit who specializes in distributing supplies and provisions to troops. The senior...

, BM for Boatswain's Mate
Boatswain's Mate
A Boatswain's mate is a job classification in Navies and Coast Guards.*Boatswain's mate , a job classification in the United States Navy*Boatswain's mate , a job classification in the United States Coast Guard...

, or FC for Fire Controlman
Fire Controlman
Fire Controlman is a United States Navy occupational rating.Fire Controlmen provide system employment recommendations; perform organizational and intermediate maintenance on digital computer equipment, subsystems, and systems; operate and maintain combat and weapons direction systems,...

. When combined with the petty officer level, this gives the short-hand for the chief's rank, such as BMC for Chief Boatswain's Mate. It is not uncommon practice to refer to the chief by this short hand in all but the most formal correspondence (such as printing and inscription on awards). Mostly, though, they are simply called "Chief", regardless of rating.

The Chief Petty Officer's insignia is a perched eagle with spread wings (often, affectionately, referred to as a "crow") above three chevrons topped by a rocker. These are red, but if a Navy chief has at least 12 consecutive years of good conduct service in the armed forces, the chevrons and rocker may be worn in gold. A Coast Guard chief petty officer's sleeve insignia is always gold regardless of the conduct of service. In either case, the Chief's particular rating emblem is displayed below the crow, within the area bordered by the rocker and the uppermost chevron.

On the dress blue uniform (and variants such as mess whites), the insignia is worn on the left arm of the uniform blouse (or "suit coat" in civilian terminology). On all other uniforms, the insignia used is worn on the collar and has become universally accepted as the symbol of the Chief Petty Officer, which is a fouled (entwined in the anchor chain) gold anchor superimposed with the letters "USN" in silver in the Navy, or a silver shield in the Coast Guard.

In the U.S. Navy, officers and Chiefs are often colloquially referred to as "khakis". This is a reference to the color of their most common shipboard working uniforms, and is a direct contrast to those in pay grades E-6 and below (deckplate sailors, or blueshirts). However, the Navy has a new working uniform for paygrades below E-7 which consists of a khaki shirt and black trousers. This has caused some dissent within the upper enlisted and officer ranks. In the Coast Guard, petty officers, chief petty officers, warrant officers, and commissioned officers all wear similar uniforms.

Induction


Previously, once selected for advancement to Chief, the selectee was made to endure a period of instruction and mentoring by his or her cognizant Chief's Mess. The selectee was assigned a sponsor who supervises the selectee's indoctrination. A "charge book", decorated in the manner with advice from the Sponsor, was presented by the selectee for signature to every Chief, Senior Chief, and Master Chief in the local area. These Chiefs would provide written tasks, ask questions, or provide guidance to the selectee. The Chiefs would also assess fines and levee "offenses to the Mess" or "charges" written in the selectee's charge book in the case of the selectee's performance being subpar. The charge book would be taken into evidence at the end of the indoctrination period. The indoctrination period would culminate with a ceremony known as Initiation.

Initiation would commonly begin at midnight and last throughout that night and into the next day ending around midday, typically 16 September, the day Chief Petty Officers are pinned yearly. Schedules vary depending on command policy and mission availability. Selectees were ordered to muster in their utility uniforms with the "Dixie Cup" Sailor's white hat. At some point during the initiation, the selectee's "Dixie Cup" hat is laid to rest and usually eulogized by the selectee. This represents the transition into the Chief's community.

Initiations were attended only by previously initiated active duty and retired Chiefs. During initiation the selectee would stand before "The Kangaroo Court" and be judged for his offenses as read from his charge book. The sentences varied by the severity of the offenses. "Punishment" was carried out as part of the initiation. A selectee may, at any time after selection results are posted, elect to forgo the initiation process. Participation in the initiation ceremony was purely voluntary.

After initiation, the selectees were then recognized by their peers as fellow Chief Petty Officers and welcomed into the "Chief's Mess". The selectees were then allowed to bathe and don their new Khaki uniforms, sans collar devices and Combination Covers.

"Initiation" has changed over the years in accordance with the changes in Navy policy, regulations and guidelines. "Induction" is currently the term used for the weeks of training, mentoring and the final night of Chief-select training. MCPON Campa dubbed the term, and ordered its use beginning with the FY07 Induction season.

Pinning of the new Chief was, and is, conducted by their Command Master Chief, with the participation and approval of the Commanding Officer, where their "Anchors" are pinned on by a person of their choosing, usually a family member or Chief, and they are presented with their Combination Cap by the Chief's Mess.

New Chief Petty Officer inductees typically sing Anchors Aweigh
Anchors Aweigh
"Anchors Aweigh" is the fight song of the United States Naval Academy, and strongly associated with the United States Navy, composed in 1906 by Charles A. Zimmerman with lyrics by Alfred Hart Miles. Zimmerman was at the time a Lieutenant, and had been bandmaster of the United States Naval Academy...

 at the pinning ceremony.

In some contexts, the term "Chief Petty Officer" can refer to the class of non-commissioned ranks of this rank and higher:
  • Chief Petty Officer
  • Senior Chief Petty Officer
    Senior Chief Petty Officer
    U.S. Coast GuardSenior ChiefPetty Officercollar deviceU.S. Coast GuardSenior ChiefPetty OfficerinsigniaGood conductvariationSenior ChiefPetty OfficerinsigniaSenior ChiefPetty Officercollar device...

  • Master Chief Petty Officer
    Master Chief Petty Officer
    - Master Chief Petty Officer :U.S. Coast GuardMaster ChiefPetty OfficerCap & Collar deviceU.S. Coast GuardMaster ChiefPetty OfficerinsigniaGood conductRating badgeMaster ChiefPetty OfficerCap & Collar Insignia...


Deckplate leaders


In naval terminology, the deckplate can roughly refer to the deck ("flooring"), or the area of the deck of a ship or boat (submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

). It can also refer to the Chief Petty Officer leadership.

The term "deckplate leaders" is a colloquial term referring to the senior enlisted personnel of the rank of Chief Petty Officer and higher. They are generally charged with keeping good order and discipline within the lower enlisted ranks.

Emblem


The Navy Chief Petty Officer emblem is symbolized by a fouled
Foul (nautical)
Foul is a nautical term meaning to entangle or entwine, and more generally that something is wrong or difficult. The term dates back to usage with wind-driven sailing ships.-Fouled anchor:...

 anchor with the letters "USN" centered on the anchor. Officially the letters stand for United States Navy. According to naval tradition, the letters are symbolic of the following:
  • Unity: to symbolize camaraderie of the fraternity.
  • Service: to symbolize service to one's god, fellow man, and the Navy.
  • Navigation: to symbolize true course before God and man.


The Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer emblem is symbolized by a fouled anchor with a shield superimposed on its shank. The anchor is emblematic of "The Chief" and represents stability and security. It serves to remind the Chief of their responsibility to keep those they serve safe from harm's way. The significance of the shield date to the days of the Revenue Cutter Service when Congress added the shield to the ensign of the Cutter Service to distinguish cutters from other naval vessels. The chain is symbolic of flexibility and strength and serves to remind the Chief that the chain of life is forged day-by-day, link-by-link. The chain also represents the reliance of one Chief Petty Officer on another to get the job done and reminds him not to be the weak link in the chain. The chain fouled around the anchor represents "the Sailor's disgrace" and serves to remind Chiefs that there may be times when circumstances are beyond their control in the performance of their duty but a Chief must complete the task.

See also

  • Petty Officer
    Petty Officer
    A petty officer is a non-commissioned officer in many navies and is given the NATO rank denotion OR-6. They are equal in rank to sergeant, British Army and Royal Air Force. A Petty Officer is superior in rank to Leading Rate and subordinate to Chief Petty Officer, in the case of the British Armed...

  • U.S. Navy enlisted rate insignia
  • Comparative military ranks
    Comparative military ranks
    This article is a list of various states' armed forces ranking designations. Comparisons are made between the different systems used by nations to categorize the hierarchy of an armed force compared to another. Several of these lists mention NATO reference codes. These are the NATO rank reference...


External links