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NEWS | Aug. 23, 2016

"Chief Season" at NPTU Charleston

By Lt. Lonita Lena Lozada Nuclear Propulsion Training Unit

This year marks the 124th birthday of the Navy Chief Petty Officer. Navy chiefs, recognized by the fouled anchor insignia, are considered the "backbone" of the Navy and hold the rank E-7.  A CPO is a combination of technical expert and leader who teaches junior sailors their rating or trade while mentoring newly commissioned junior officers in the ways of the operational Navy.
During the Revolutionary War, Jacob Wasbie, a Cook's Mate serving on board the Alfred, one of the first Continental Navy warships, was promoted to "Chief Cook."  This occurred on June 1, 1776 but it wasn't until 1893, over 100 years later, that the Navy recognized and defined the role of Chief Petty Officer.  Those unfamiliar with the Navy's culture and history merely define a CPO as the seventh enlisted rate but, according to Senior Auxiliary Machinist Mate Chief Petty Officer Jessy White, "A chief is the one man or woman who is expected to have the ANSWER.  They are the people you look to when you have concerns regarding ANY policy, instruction, technical decision, status of resources and personnel."  Those of us who have served alongside the selected few know Senior Chief White's definition is most accurate.

The E-7 selection board is the Navy's largest each year. It normally takes board members weeks to sort through the thousands of candidates, ultimately deciding who becomes a Chief Petty Officer Selectee. Last year's board examined 17,639 First-Class Petty Officers' (E-6) records, of which only 4,170 were selected; a 23.6 percent advancement rate.  Although a selection board may have given the go-ahead for promotion, it is during "Chief's Season" where E-6 Sailors are indoctrinated into the culture and traditions imbedded within the Navy CPO community.

The CPO selectees are mentored and prepared for the next step in their careers through various exercises during Chief's Season.  The six week process trains, mentors and educates selectees on how to carry out the broad range of responsibilities required of them once advanced.  Team building skills and decision making techniques are the focal point of the indoctrination period where former First Class Petty Officers no longer focus on self, work center or equipment issues, but instead on the ship's mission, logistics and taking care of the Navy's most valuable asset, its' Sailors. 

Here at NPTU Charleston, the CPO community regularly contributes a considerable amount of spare time to benefit the unit and its Sailors. Additionally, the CPOs donate to the local area, including the cities of Charleston and Goose Creek.  The CPO selectees recently volunteered at Patriot's Point and Cypress Gardens assisting cleanup efforts and grounds restoration.  They also volunteer throughout the year at the Eagle Harbor Boy's Ranch promoting responsibilities of citizenship, character development and fitness.   
Hopefully, now there is a better understanding of what it means to call a Navy E-7 - "Chief."

This year during Chief's Season, Joint Base Charleston thanks all current CPOs for their service and dedication and congratulates all CPO selectees.