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Chief Petty Officer Has a Dual Role

Chief petty officer (CPO) pertains to the 7th enlisted rank in the United States Coast Guard and Navy.  This officer is non-commissioned and is below the Senior Chief Petty Officer and just above the Petty Officer First Class.  It was established for the Navy on April 1, 1893.  The Coast Guard was first authorized to use this promotion on May 18, 1920.

Advancement to this position does not only need length of service, specialty examinations, and superior evaluation score requirements but also needs to satisfactorily meet peer review requirements.  An aspiring officer can only advance after successfully passing the review by a board of selection composed of serving Master and Senior Chief Petty Officers, which could lead to biases in the selection process, as they would have the tendency to choose their own instead of choosing the deserving aspirant.

In the enlisted naval ranks, successful advancement into the chief petty officer is probably the most significant promotion.  Sailor at the rank of Chief performs administrative duties.  Those who have this rank will also have privileges like having a separate living and dining areas.  In most naval vessels which are large enough, there’d be rooms which cannot be accessed by anyone, including the officers, except the Chief unless someone is invited to come in.

To demonstrate the importance of this rank, simple scenarios such as that when one is invited to have a meal at the Chief’s Mess.  When one is invited to eat here, it is already a custom to eat all that’s on the plate regardless of the condiments added by the Chief’s Mess members.  Chief’s Mess is a jargon used in the Navy, which is also sometimes called ‘goat locker’ or ‘tongue in cheek’.  Moreover, despite the fact that he was on a ‘first name’ basis with the fellow petty officers prior to promotion to chief petty officer, the officer will always be addressed as ‘Chief’ by superiors and subordinates.

The insignia for a CPO is an eagle that’s perched with wings that are spread, which is often called ‘crow’, that is over three chevrons.  The chevrons are colored red, though after 12 years of service in good conduct in the Navy, the officer may wear chevrons of gold.

This officer would serve a dual role as a leader and as a technical expert.  As a chief petty officer would progress through the ranks, emphasis on leadership will be placed.  As part of this officer’s collateral duty, training of Junior Officers will be of utmost concern.

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