YORKTOWN, Va. (NNS) -- It's that time of year again. The sounds of intense physical fitness, instructional training and educational games.
It's been called many things: from initiation, to indoctrination, to a Navy tradition. Today, it is better known as CPO 365 Phase II.
CPO 365 Phase II, also called Chief's Transition Season, is a rite of passage as First Class Petty Officers transition to Chief Petty Officer. This training is specific to the U.S. Navy as no other branch of the armed forces goes into such detail for training its senior enlisted leadership.
"The importance of CPO 365 gives first class petty officers an in-depth training platform to understand the dynamics of truly effective deckplate leadership," said CMDCM(SW) Lee Friedlander, Command Master Chief, Naval Weapons Station (WPNSTA) Yorktown. "CPO 365 provides this training in a 365 day forum to include counseling, mentoring, Fleet and Family Services, CACO, DAPA, mental health, evaluation writing etc., creating an easier transition to chief."
"Chief Petty Officers are among the most respected group of enlisted leaders in the world," said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Mike Stevens. "We must ensure that we provide the type of modern day leadership and high level training that ensures this remains true now and in the future."
WPNSTA Yorktown and its tenant commands are gearing up for the CPO 365 Phase II season for their 14 new CPO selectees. According to Friedlander, CPO 365 is an essential part of the transition from first class petty officer to chief.
"I was selected for Chief Petty Officer in 2001 and, over the last 14 years, our Season has gone through several iterations and name changes: Initiation, Induction, Season of Pride, CPO 365," Friedlander added. "However, one premise that has always remained the same is the leadership, training, knowledge, expertise, and respect that ultimately result in a successful transition Chief Petty Officer."
The rank of Chief Petty Officer was officially recognized on April 1, 1893, when General Order No. 409 (Enlisted Pay Chart), signed by then Secretary of the Navy B. F. Tracy, distinguished the rank of Chief Quartermaster, Chief Boatswain's Mate, Chief Carpenter's Mate, Chief Master-at-Arms, and Chef Gunner's Mate. Though records indicate earlier references to the rank of Chief Petty Officer, this is considered the official CPO birthday.
At the 100th celebration of the Chief Petty Officer birthday, former Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Frank B. Kelso, said, "The example set by Chiefs for the last century inspires our young men and women of today. Indeed, what Americans see in our impressive young Sailors is the tradition of devotion and dedication the first chiefs established with their sacrifices and valor."
During CPO365 Phase II, chief selectees are given a wide range of instruction specific to the role of the Chief Petty Officer in today's Navy. This includes leading and managing a division, mentoring and supporting junior officers, communication with the chain of command, and executing the expectations of the leadership triad.
"CPO 365 is designed to be delivered in two phases, but I actually believe in fact it is three phases," Friedlander explained. "Phase I, when the chiefs mess and first classes spend the year training and building a working relationship. Phase II when the chief selectees receive 6 weeks of intense training building team-work and camaraderie. And Phase III is that first year of actually wearing khakis, understanding the roles and responsibilities of a Chief Petty Officer when the new chief needs the most guidance and mentorship."
"CPO 365 Phase II has really been an eye opening experience," said MAC(Sel) Derek Vasko. "It is an amazing feeling when all of the selectees come together and complete a task. We have observed ourselves shedding old habits and mentalities."
The phrase "Ask the Chief" is commonplace aboard every ship, squadron, and naval installation around the world. Part of the CPO 365 training is to make the new chiefs ready to be that technical expert and deckplate leader chiefs are known and expected to be.
"Achieving the rank of Chief Petty Officer is not a destination, it is merely a milestone in one's career. This is not the time to take a knee as if you have arrived," Friedlander said. "I expect 100% every day. No excuses. When you feel like you have reached your limit, reach down deep and find some more. There is always more!"
Through the course of its history, the tradition of CPO 365 has extended into the other branches of the armed forces. Some senior enlisted leaders from the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps have requested the opportunity to go through the CPO transition, not just as a rite of passage, but also for the opportunity to learn leadership skills outside their own service.
"As a Marine, you're in a leadership position from Corporal to Sergeant Major," said Master Gunnery Sergeant George Bieber, USMC (Ret), an initiated Chief Petty Officer. "However, leading by example was the Corps' thought pattern, whereas the Navy's was to treat others as you would want to be treated, remembering where you came from."
"I am proud to be called a Navy Chief," he continued. "To this day, when I wear my Marine uniform, you will see the rank of Master Chief under my left breast pocket."
The next phase of CPO 365 ends on September 15 when the new chiefs get to wear their khakis, put on "the hat", and have their anchors pinned on them. To all chiefs, this is considered "the greatest day of my life".
The new chiefs know they couldn't have gotten to this point without the support and dedication of the chief's mess. "We are thankful for the guidance and mentorship of the genuine chief's mess and the time that they dedicate to our professional and personal development," Vasko concluded.
For more news from Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, visit www.navy.mil/local/nwsyorktown/.