By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Yokosuka Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) marked the 123rd anniversary of the Chief Petty Officer (CPO) at a ceremony, April 1, 2016. More than 20 SRF-JRMC retired and active duty CPOs celebrated their history and the future.
Every year, U.S. Navy chiefs across the world celebrate this day, which began when U.S. President Benjamin Harrison’s outlined the CPOs’ pay rates in 1893.
“For 123 years, chiefs have celebrated today’s Navy with pride and excellence,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Dominique Taylor, an Electronics Technician at SRF-JRMC in his ceremony introductory remarks .
“Everybody knows that chief petty officers get stuff done. It doesn’t matter if it’s not in their role or expertise. Chiefs are still called upon to answer those hard questions,” said Taylor.
CPOs have the unique and diverse responsibility of serving senior officers while mentoring and developing both junior officers and enlisted Sailors at the same time.
During the command’s celebration, several CPOs presented speeches and recitals of CPO history, tradition, anecdotes, customs and oaths. This included such time-honored odes as “History of the Chief,” “Gold Fouled Anchors,” “The Legend of the Chiefs Hat,” “Chiefs Pledge” and “CPO Creed.”
The history of the chief is steeped in rich maritime tradition. The CPO insignia, the fouled anchor in particular, holds significance as a recognized symbol of the CPO. The anchor that is “fouled,” or tangled, in a long chain represents the trials and challenges chiefs may encounter during their service.
The letters “USN,” which are attached the anchor, not only stands for “U.S. Navy” but also for “Unity,” “Service” and “Navigation.” This symbolizes the unity of the Chief’s Mess (also known as the CPO’s community), the service to God and country, and the navigation they provide to each sailor and vessel in the Navy.
The chief petty officer was the highest enlisted rank in the U.S. Navy, until the creation of the senior chief petty officer and master chief petty officer ranks under a 1958 Amendment to the Career Compensation Act of 1949.
Currently, there are 20,796 U.S. Navy CPOs, according to Defense Manpower Research’s “Active Duty Navy Demographics by the Numbers.”