TR Celebrates Birth of the Chief Petty Officer

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Story Number: NNS140401-23Release Date: 4/1/2014 6:12:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Wyatt Anthony, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Chiefs aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) held a cake-cutting ceremony in TR's Chiefs' Mess to celebrate the 121st birthday of the rank of chief petty officer April 1.

"A ship lives, breathes and succeeds based off of the Chief Petty Officer's Mess," said Capt. Daniel C. Grieco, TR's commanding officer.

Chiefs earned the moniker "backbone of the Navy" through years of experience, tear-tugging triumphs and heroic actions, said Chief Information Systems Technician Joseph Wert, TR's CS4 division leading chief petty officer.

"For me personally, when I was coming up in the Navy, the chief was always the man to go to for advice or answers," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate Equipment 1st Class Shane Mcnutt. "Chief has always been a prestigious pay grade to make."

Before April 1, 1893, chief was just a title assigned by a commanding officer to the most senior first class petty officer in each rate.

President Benjamin Harrison established the rank of chief petty officer Feb. 23, 1893, when he signed General Order 409. The new rank became effective April 1, 1893.

Initially, the grade of chief applied to only nine rates: master-at-arms, boatswain's mate, quartermasters, gunner's mate, machinist's mate, carpenter's mate, yeoman, apothecary and bandmasters. Since that time, the rank of chief petty officer expanded to all Navy rates.

"I failed at making chief five times before I finally made it," said Wert. "But the day I made it I was so proud. It had always been something that I really wanted and aspired for."

General Order 409 also designated the insignia for chiefs as a gold fouled anchor surmounted by a silver U.S.N.

The "U" stands for unity, which is a reminder to cooperate, maintain harmony and continuity of purpose and action. The "S" stands for service to one another and the Navy. The "N" stands for navigation, as a reminder to be true to one's self and each other as well.

"The tradition and the honor behind the chief's anchor is a symbol of the Navy," said Mcnutt. "And ultimately, when you think of the Navy, you see the anchor with the chain and the gold U.S.N."

According to the chief petty officer's creed, chiefs carry unique responsibilities and are granted privileges like no other enlisted personnel in any other service. These privileges and responsibilities exist because for more than 200 years chiefs have accepted responsibilities beyond the call of their assignments.

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