What it Means to be a Chief Petty Officer?
I am a Senior Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy. I joined out of my home town on November 27th 2002 and I have been in the Navy for sixteen years. The birth of the United States Navy slightly predates the beginning of the United States. The initial fleet was mostly made up of commercial sailors in their own ships and rebelling colonies to make a difference in the American Revolution. On October 13, 1775, the Continental Congress commissioned two ships, each with eighty sailors, “for intercepting such transports as may be laden with warlike stores and other supplies for our enemies.” In traditional American fashion though, from small beginnings rose an important U.S. institution. The U.S. Navy has now been involved in over ten major wars, defended the country against pirates, and played an important role in relief efforts worldwide.
One of the earliest uses for the U.S. Navy was to fight against the Barbary Pirates that were taking over the country’s merchant ships, helping themselves to the items on board, and taking the men on the ship hostage. Under Thomas Jefferson’s succeeding administration, the Barbary Pirates continued to be an issue that the new Republic could no longer avoid or afford. Thomas Jefferson sent the naval fleet of the day to the Barbary Coast in response. Two wars ensued before the pirates backed off. In June 1805, with the pirate menace subdued by the emerging American navy, a treaty advantageous to the United States was signed with the Bashaw of Tripoli. It was in the crucible of war with the Barbary states and the quasi-war with France that the fledgling American navy was shaped into a fighting force through the efforts and leadership of Truxtun and Preble
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The Navy in the Civil War under Abraham Lincoln used the U.S. Navy to set up a blockade off the Southern coast, effectively cutting off their trade with the outside world and limiting military supplies. The Confederacy responded by rounding up any ships they could find, and the sea became one of the war’s battlegrounds. Dependent on an agricultural economy with little industry, the Confederate states were heavily dependent on imports of European war materiel and the export of cotton to finance it. Establishing and tightening the blockade was important, but the most effective means for crippling the Confederate economy was to capture key Southern ports.
In WWI Naval warfare played a significant role. When the United States made its late entry onto the scene, Navy ships were used to transport many of the troops across the sea and Navy destroyers were brought into play to help sink enemy submarines. Because the U.S. came into the war so late and because the Navy was small at the time we got involved, the U.S. Navy’s role in WWI was comparably small. That would change by the time WWII rolled around.
In the years between the two great wars, the U.S. Navy grew considerably. After the beginning of World War II in 1939, the U.S. Navy began a huge building program, including planes, warships, merchant ships, landing craft, and various special types of vessels. By the time Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into the conflict, the Navy had 350 major combatant ships. By the end of the war, the fleet had grown to 1,200. The Navy was an important part of the war in the Pacific Theater with their island-hopping campaign and several big battles with the Japanese Navy.
Today the U.S. Navy has more than 300,000 active duty members and over 100,000 more reservists. They operate more in the air than on the sea, with over thousands of aircrafts in operation in comparison to the less than 300 battle ships they have. Many members of the Navy have been deployed in the engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan and many have been involved in worldwide humanitarian relief efforts the Navy helps with. The Navy has several Relief Operations, to help the nation’s foreign and domestic with natural disasters. They have swung into action to help after Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, and in the aftermaths of the tsunamis that shook Indonesia and Japan in recent years.
Navy’s biggest challenge is and will always remain as Manpower. We are at war for people and we are fighting this war on three fronts, recruiting the right people, raising retention and attacking attrition. To win, we need the involvement of every leader at every level, from admirals to petty officers and seamen. Everyone who has Sailors working for them. All of you directly affect our success on this issue, through your own personal actions and through your chain of command
The major items included implementing changes to address the readiness issues identified in the wake of the deadly collisions in the Pacific. Investigations would determine that the collisions that killed 17 sailors were the avoidable, tragic results of disturbingly inept ship handling, communications and decision-making by numerous crew members. demanding longer and longer hours from their sailors, due to the long and frequent periods of sea time served by Japan-based ships and in spite of research showing the negative effects on safety and job performance. The exhausting pace of operations grew year over year even as the number of ships and sailors sharply declined.
Attrition is our number one manpower challenge. No one joins the Navy to fail, yet too many Sailors do not complete their first enlistment. Concerned, involved leadership is the key to minimizing attrition without sacrificing standards. Leaders must take every measure to help their people prosper and succeed. The millennials joining the workforce are now employees between 1980 and 2000, or 1981 and 1999.” With the growth of millennials and the exit of baby boomers from the workplace is placing pressure on companies to find valuable leadership. Good leadership is hard to find when people are pressured and unexperienced. Creating laser sharp focus for the team is at the very heart of leadership. And be assured it is much easier said than done. The increasing concern of how today’s generation Y work force responds raises the question of which leadership technique responds positively by mentoring or management.
The Navy is more high-tech. That means that we need to keep people we have trained and keep this skill. I believe we’re going to have to do some more innovation and figure out how to provide incentives for this process to pay for the skills that are required for us to maintain this more sophisticated and driven by technology. Today’s fast paced environments demands flexible organizations, one’s ready and able to adapt to technical innovations. When you fail to maintain your focus and have a solid plan, the team will wander aimlessly in search of direction. Employees can get frustrated, and honestly people quit people before they quit their companies.
From the early days as a small fleet of merchants to today, the Navy has undergone a significant transformation and continues to be the world’s greatest Navy.