ARABIAN GULF – Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106) celebrated the 126th birthday of the chief petty officer (CPO), April 1.
Sailors gathered on the mess decks for a presentation on the history of chief petty officers followed by a cake cutting ceremony.
“It was a great experience celebrating the CPO’s 126th birthday with such a solid group of chief petty officers,” said Stockdale’s Command Master Chief Jared Mueller.
Established in 1893, the title of chief petty officer holds significant weight and meaning to those who wear the rank.
“As the son of a Yeoman 2nd Class and a Sonar Technician (Surface) 1st Class, being a chief petty officer in the United States Navy is my contribution to my family's naval legacy,” said Chief Fire Controlman Marcus Ames.
Ames believes that he’s not only carrying on his family’s legacy in the Navy, but also the legacy of the chief.
“Being a chief also means I carry on the Navy's legacy of unity and naval traditions,” said Ames. “Before me there was a chief that passed on the technical and naval knowledge that I have today. Before the Chiefs Mess that I serve in today, there was a mess that passed on the traditions of crossing the line, burials at sea and
the ship's bell to Sailors that serve now. Now that I am a chief petty officer it is up to me to ensure that these young men and women know the rich history of those that have come before them.”
Chiefs have been called the backbone of the Navy, serving as technical experts, liaisons between enlisted and officers, and advocates for junior Sailors.
“Chief petty officers play a vital role in the accomplishment of every evolution that takes place aboard Navy ships,” said Mueller. “Chief petty officers are recognized as subject matter experts and deck plate leaders, and it is important that the Chiefs Mess continue to earn that recognition every day.”
According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, the first use of the word, “chief” in the Navy was when a Cook’s Mate named Jacob Wasbie, serving aboard one of the first Continental Navy warships, USS Alfred, was promoted to a “Chief” Cook. The date was June 1, 1776.
Stockdale is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.