ABOARD USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Shiny anchors, freshly-pressed khakis and combination covers overflowing with pride filled one of the ship's hangar bays Sept. 12, when 43 Sailors from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9 and Carrier Group (CCG) 3 retired their blue shirts and were welcomed into the exclusive fellowship of the chief petty officer's mess.
As the mighty warship churned up the waters of the Pacific on its way home from an eight-month deployment, hundreds of Sailors and Marines came together to witness the thrill of the annual frocking ceremony and share in stories of hallowed anchors.
"My first chief took a look at the dumbest ensign that ever crossed the quarterdeck, and said 'If you listen, you'll go far,'" said Capt. Dave Thorson, commander DESRON 9. "[Following tonight's ceremony], you'll have the opportunity to not only lead blue shirts, but to make officers."
For the new chiefs, the journey into khakis began many years ago. Each faced their own challenges and adversities, leading them down many different roads. They navigated their way to a destination that will keep them successful, and help make the Navy better for years to come.
"I look forward to serving with the Sailors you will mold in the years to come," said Rear Adm. Marty Chanik, commander CCG-3. "Come take your rightful place among the dedicated professionals in the chief's mess."
One by one, each selectee marched proudly to the stage to have their anchors pinned on by their fellow chiefs. The ceremonial boatswain's mate piped aboard the chiefs who, donning their new combination covers, saluted proudly as they were simultaneously "bonged" aboard by the ship's bell.
"Your challenge is to take this great Navy and make it better," said CVW-9 Commander Capt. Victor Steinman.
Carl Vinson's chief's mess was tasked with ensuring the group of 43 would be prepared to do just that. Upon learning of their selection to chief, the selectees began a six-week initiation intended to give them the tools they need to become successful.
"It's a formalized training process designed to get them to effectively do the job of a chief," said Vinson's Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Rick Rose. "They will absolutely be more prepared tomorrow than I was the day after I made chief."
"I think I can provide my subordinates with the tools they need to fix anything life may throw at them," said newly-frocked Chief Aviation Ordnanceman (AW) Billy Filer from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22. "[Being a chief] is going to be one tool I'll be very proud to utilize."
Master Chief Avionics Technician (AW/SW) Carl Bailey brought the evening's festivities to a close with the reading of the Chief Petty Officer's Creed.
"'Ask the chief' is a household phrase in and out of the Navy. You are now the chief," Bailey read. "We take deep and sincere pleasure in clasping your hand, and accepting you as a chief petty officer in the United States Navy."
Carl Vinson will return to her homeport of Bremerton, Wash., Sept. 19 following an eight-month deployment in the western Pacific.
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70.