WASHINGTON (NNS) -- In unique ceremonies around the world Friday, nearly 4,700 Sailors became chief petty officers (CPO) as they pinned anchors and advanced to the rank of chiefs.
One such ceremony was at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., where 32 chief selects received their anchors. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson delivered a keynote speech at the event in which he said the appropriate word for the Sailors on that special day is “becoming” not “being” since “becoming” represents dynamism.
“Becoming a fighting Navy chief means becoming an effective combat leader. Period. Becoming a fighting Navy chief means getting your teams ready to fight – better than they've ever fought before. Period. Becoming a fighting Navy chief means getting you and your team ready to put the enemy on the bottom of the ocean. And you sail away with your team – alive. Period,” he said.
Richardson also said that a fighting Navy chief never stops growing and needs to learn as the jobs and technology change.
“You need to learn. You need to be an expert at what you do. You learn and you teach,” he added ending his remarks with a call to action, “I’ll see you in the fleet, let’s get to work.”
Family members, friends and mentors were invited to the stage to help complete each new chief’s crisp khaki uniform by pinning anchors on their collars and donning their covers.
Meanwhile, in Spain, Naval Station Rota welcomed 32 Sailors and three Air Force technical sergeants to the CPO ranks during a pinning ceremony held at the installation’s community recreation center Seaview Pines.
“Today’s ceremony is more than just a chief petty officer’s pinning,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Brett Cummings, Naval Hospital Rota command master chief. “… regardless of the specific jobs, the specific skill set, or the specific location, these individuals are bound by the unique fraternity to which they will belong: that of the chief petty officer.”
Traditionally, the pinning ceremony is held following a six-week training and testing period known as chiefs’ initiation.
“I know that everyone is proud of you today,” said Capt. Michael MacNicholl, Naval Station Rota commanding officer. “You succeeded in enduring rigorous yet necessary training these past few weeks. You’ve been tested both physically and mentally. Each of you answered with determination and strength. You persevered and you worked as a team. With this promotion comes more responsibilities and more will be demanded of you. You will be the technical expert. You will be an authority and a role model.”
The ceremony included the chief selects singing ‘Anchors Aweigh,’ a reading of the Fouled Anchor and the Two-Bell ceremony.
In Japan, 14 Sailors representing various commands marched into a pinning ceremony at U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s Fleet Theater.
Guest speaker Rear Admiral James Pitts, Commander, Submarine Group 7, said these emblems don’t just represent their new rank, but the long process it took to get there and the weight of their additional responsibilities.
“Our chiefs are crucial to the fighting of the ship; crucial to executing the normal battle rhythm of training, maintenance and standards; maintaining good order and discipline; and effectively bridging the gap between officers and personnel,” he said. “It is not easy. It is not for the faint of heart. But it is because of the need of this type of leader that in 1893 that the rank of chief petty officer was born.”
Chiefs at the pinning ceremony attributed their rise to good mentorship. Quartermaster Chief Korinthia Guary of U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s Port Operations said “watching other leaders and learning from them” helped her get to this point in her career.
Culinary Specialist Chief Victor A. Marrero of Fleet Activities Yokosuka said good mentorship and support from junior Sailors were key to his success, “If they didn’t work hard, I wouldn’t be in this position right now.”
Standing before his family and colleagues at the ceremony, Marrero took a moment to reflect upon the 15 years he’s been in the Navy. “It’s extremely humbling knowing what I’ve been through to get to this point,” he said. “This whole process has been powerful and eye-opening. I’m very excited.”
Command Master Chief Warren Britten, command master chief of U.S. Fleet Activities Yokosuka, said these new chiefs have an important role to play.
“Those of us who have been through this process before truly know what it means to don the hat of the chief, so this day is very special for all of us,” he said. “So today, when we clasp their hands, it is meant with sincere gratitude for them coming onboard and joining an organization that has a lot of rich tradition and history.”
Back in the nation’s capital, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith had a message for all CPOs.
“To all new chief petty officers, welcome to the Mess! Never forget what you have done to get here, as well what countless others have done on your behalf to give you this incredible opportunity,” said Smith. “As you inevitably pause at some point today to look at those anchors on your collar, remember that you must 'earn this’ every day Hooyah - Navy chief, Navy pride!”
President Benjamin Harris issued an executive order 125 years ago creating the rank of chief petty officer. Today, chiefs are selected by a board of chiefs, senior chiefs and master chiefs after first class Sailors show leadership potential, impressive records and pass an advancement exam.