Our Navy – Some Reflections

| January 17, 2013

Hondo, and the comments his post engendered,  set me to doing some soul searching and you get to monitor that process – sort of.

When I was in (64-69) “Rocks and Shoals” was still a topic of conversation.  This was well after the adoption of the UCMJ in ’51, but that thread existed still.

In no small part part it was maintained by the Chiefs. The Goat Locker seemed a vestige of that era to lesser mortals.

I don’t think the other branches (outside of the Coast Guard) have a similar hierarchy?

Mind you… At my age I AM dealing with memories, and memories of memories, but I found this article that suggests I ain’t far wrong.

The time honored rite of the U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer (CPO) initiation process has been eliminated. Political correctness has won out over more than 100 years of having gotten it right in the Chief’s Mess.

What has the U.S. Navy done? Will it prove harmful, or will it even matter in the grand scheme of things? My prediction is that this will exponentially increase the number of glorified managers in the Navy’s senior enlisted ranks.

With Jonn’s forgiveness let me cite one other item from the article:

I DO believe we still have that kind of man in Our Navy along with what ever the PC crowd allows. Not sure where the tipping point might be though?


Category: Geezer Alert!, Navy

Comments (29)

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  1. Trent says:

    I remember watching the Forrestal fire footage at Sea School, MCRD San Diego (August & September 1984) and being in awe of the courage of the Chief going into a fire armed only with a Purple K canister. I wondered aloud to my friends if I could ever have hoped to fill his boots.

  2. OWB says:

    Wow, Zee! I am going to have to wait to watch that video until my head is correctly positioned for the viewing. I know at least two who were aboard that day and have dealt with a few negative results from same. It was not pretty.

    But, thanks in advance for posting this. It will be great to see the modern take on just what happened.

  3. USMCE8Ret says:

    Honestly, I am deeply saddened and disappointed to hear that a time honored tradition has now gone away, and I’m a Marine for chrissakes! I’ve known PLENTY of former Navy E-6’s who were good at that they did, and somehow became better men and women (in my opinion) because of the initiation process they endured. Some would call it “hazing”, but I always thought the lessons which were taught were intended to instill a deeper meaning. Of the Chief’s I knew, (at least the ones who understood their role), they were the very best. I met only a few who were opportunists. They all seemed to cooperate with one another, and networked well in order to get the mission accomplished. I envied them quite a bit, because as a SrSNCO, I didn’t think “we” Marines were bound as tightly as our Navy bretheren and sisters.

    My hopes for the Navy, as an institution, is that it doesn’t regret eliminating that process, and that it doesn’t become the Navy’s undoing in the years to come.

    Fair Winds and Following Seas.

  4. mark says:

    In my humble opinion, along with many other great Navy traditions, The Chief has been fading away for some time now.

    Nowadays, CPO’s seem to be more about micro-managing and just making sure everyone KNOWS they are chiefs (you never see one without some form of clothing that tells the world they’re Chiefs). Honestly, it’s a rare Chief these days that gets real respect. Mostly, they just come around and fix shit that ain’t broke and get in everyone’s way.

    Or maybe there’s just too many Chiefs now…

  5. NHSparky says:

    There are some rituals which were kind of silly, and things like tacking on crows, dolphins, etc., or drinking them had pretty much tamed by the time even I was in during the 80’s and 90’s. Even the “crossing the line” ceremony I did in 1992 was pretty mild compared to what I heard from the old-timers back then. Sure, we got our asses beat, but meh.

    But make no mistake–a certain amount of ball-busting is not only expected, but NECESSARY. It was done to me, and I did it to younger folks to see that they could in fact operate under pressure. There is nothing worse than a guy who folds when 120-plus other people are depending on him to do the right thing to save his buddies and possibly the entire boat.

    There IS a definite line between pressure and hazing. The latter has no place in the service, but if you can’t put people under pressure to see if they can handle it when REAL shit goes down, that’s just as bad as abusing someone. IMO, worse.

  6. obsidian says:

    Chief’s ran the Navy back during the Zumwalt Hippy era, God bless em all and their eternal coffee cups.
    In some ways they remind me of my Gunny.

  7. CBSenior says:

    I am disgusted and saddened that the MCPON is an E9 and not a Master Chief. Doing this almost unilaterally with dissenting opinions from Master Chiefs all over the Fleet. He overrueled the Mess and worse yet, did not even consent the whole Mess. Dinner and a Kiss is the rite of passage now. The Junior Sailors will suffer with a class of JV Chiefs. No guts no nuts and leadership will suffer. As we would say in the mess or I would to his face. Fuck. You master chief.

  8. FatCircles0311 says:

    You Squids are weird. I read that jazz and still have no clue what is going on.

  9. NHSparky says:

    That’s okay, half the shit you doggies and jarheads do/say has me shaking my head as well.

  10. AW1 Tim says:

    The skipper is in command of the ship/boat/squadron, but it’s the Chiefs who run the damned things. They are the ones who know what needs to be done, who know the manuals and procedures inside out, and can bail out the skipper and his officers if needs be.

    The Goat Locker is the heart of the command. It’s where the great bulk of knowledge is centered, and where angels and seamen fear to tread.

    In times past, the Chief was the one you went to when you had a problem. He’d give you the benefit of his experience, and he’d either explain how fucked up you were and how to fix the problem, or, and just as often, he’d have your back and intercede on your behalf with your Division Officer or the Command Master Chief before it ever got any further, usually fixing things FOR you.

    I stood in awe of all but one of the Chiefs I served with, and I would have followed them into hell carrying a couple jerry cans of JP-5 because I trusted them. They earned that trust through the concept of “Leadership by Example”.

    To hear of the Navy doing away with the CPO initiation beaks my heart. But it doesn’t surprise me. The Navy has had it’s collective balls cut off by the Diversity Industry for a couple decades now, with it’s Flag Officers more interested in their personal politics and Careers than in actually serving the Navy.

    Honestly, as proud as I am of my service with the Navy, I can’t actually recommend it for any young man or woman these days. It’s overrun by the Diversity Bullies and PC Police, it’s being gutted through poor management and shipbuilding/platform acquisition decisions, maintenance is suffering, and the current administrations decisions are forcing out many of the upper enlisted ranks which take with them the experience of years of service.

    The Navy, until it comes to it’s senses and cleans it’s proverbial house, is royally fucked and I have great reservations about our ability to persevere in a war at sea. It really is that bad.

  11. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    My Navy is gone. I new it was going away when gas turbines arrived, pregnant females appeared on ships,the 600 ship Navy was reduced, DADT witch hunts were the norm, and now our ship level is at numbers last seen in the 1800’s

    I am that Chief, yes I am that Chief that made you curse and cry during initiation. Yes, it is me!

    I spent over 2/3 of my career as a CPO/SCPO/MCPO and with that I have one thing to say on this issue: I AM TERRIBLY SADDENED AND DISGUSTED!

    I am much better off retired today!

  12. mark says:

    I feel your pain Master Chief. I’m an HM1 who’s getting close to being eligible for HMC, but I have to tell you that I’m just not sure that’s a club I want to belong to anymore. It’s embarrassing really–there is just no leadership. Now it’s all image and bluster.

  13. Enigma4you says:

    I was a sailor once. Our command master chief could put the fear of god in anyone with a glance. 26 years later I can trace what I know about leadership to the chiefs I searved under.

  14. Trent says:

    I served in two Marine Detachments, the USS Long Beach and the USS Ranger. To this day, I only remember one CPO or above. The one I remember was Master Chief Hobbs of the Ranger. He served 44 years, all gold hash marks on his sleeve and a hard taskmaster for the other chiefs on the ship. I wonder what he would say about no initiation.

  15. Roger in Republic says:

    I was initiated in 79 at USCG Sta. Alameda. There were 4 CG, and about a dozen Navy initiates. I thought the affair was rather tame. At least for we of the shallow water navy. The Navy guys on the other hand had been at it since about 0001 . They were off the ships based there and had been dragged thru the shit so to speak. I think they benefited more from the experience because it was tougher. They had a real and definite transformation while I had been serving for about month in my new rant. I will admit that reciting the Chief’s Creed, and pinning on those fouled anchors made me a better man.

    I worked for some great Chiefs and for some really bad ones. I swore that I would emulate the best of them, and for the most part I did.

    While the girly men of today find the idea of Initiation to be harassment or hazing, it is a rite of passage that should be respected. Power without humility is power wasted.

    Roger Watts Ex. ETC USCG.

  16. HMCS(FMF) Ret says:

    Damn… as an initiated (1994) GENUINE CPO, I can’t help but shake my head and wonder what the hell the current MCPON and the last one (Rick West) were thinking. I agree with getting rid of the booze during training, which happened in ’94, but to reduce it to a “McDonald’s Happy Meal” moment just sucks. It’s PCness run amok – and ball less leadership from the MCPON (BTW I’m calling him a E-9, he doesn’t deserve to be called Master Chief).

    The transition period was key to me – it made things come together after 12 years as a bluejacket. To sit there and pontificate that the “induction/transition/initiation” didn’t do anything was wrong. It helped with bringing the newly selected CPO’s into the Mess and was a team building period, not just for the selectees but the rest of the Mess.

    If the E-9ON does not want to be a leader and take responsibility for being the leader of the Mess, he needs to put in his papers and retire ASAP… and let the CNO find someone else that can lead the Mess.

  17. CBSenior says:

    E9’s are a funny bunch, what we call dicks they call lunch.
    Part of the process was the yearly renewal of the Mess, breathing fresh air back into our lungs, revitalizing our commitment to each other and the Navy. Strength thru testing and trials. We need to see you at your best when things are at there worst. What a horrible proposition that we actually set standards and hold people to them.

  18. Hondo says:

    One issue with the video, Zero: I’m not sure how much credence to give anyone who claims that the US was “bogged down in a messy ground war in North Vietnam” (approx 1:30 in the video). I don’t recall reading about the US ever conducting significant ground operations in North Vietnam during that war. Everything I’ve read indicated our operations in North Vietnam were confined to naval, air, and a few SPECOPS operations. The US “ground war” was in South Vietnam (and in 1970, in Cambodia).

  19. LCDR M(Ret) says:

    I’m an LDO and initiated (back when there were REAL initiations) Chief.

    The best definition I ever heard of the difference between a Chief and an officer is that Chiefs make things happen and officers make sure things happen.

    Too many times today, officers think of Chiefs as being an extension of the wardroom…and those “Chiefs” allow them to think that.

    There is nothing more powerful than an organized “Goat Locker.”

    To my dying day, I will be most proud of my promotion to CPO. By a mile.

    After having endured the slings and arrows of initiation, I realized that linked me to every other Chief in the USN. We were brothers and sisters who had a shared experience. It meant a lot.

    A great example of this. This is a true story. No shit.

    The day before I was commissioned, I needed to go to PSD. When I entered the office, the PN2 sitting at the desk gave me a cheery “Good morning, Chief!” with a big smile on her face. The PNC came flying out of his office, also with a big smile on his face, asking what he could do for me. We had a “cup o’ joe” and took care of business. Most outstanding experience.

    The next day, after my commissioning ceremony, I of course needed to get my ID updated to reflect my “promotion.”

    I walked into the same PSD, same PN2, same PNC. The only reaction I got from anyone in that office was from the PN2. “Take a number, Ensign.”

    It was at that moment that I realized that I had NOT been promoted at all. I was now just a boot brown bar. Sigh!

  20. Ex-PH2 says:

    The video has images of bombing runs made during the Tet offensive in 1968. It is a sloppy job.

    I remember the fire on the Forrestal. It happened when I was at Photo “A” school at NAS Pensacola, right around the same time I watched a group of chief petty officers marching in formation to Chiefs’ school one sunny morning. I asked someone else who was watching why they were going to a school for chief petty officers. I was a PHAN (E-3). What did I know? The person I asked said it was about leadership and discipline, or something to that effect.

    Some things never need to be changed.

  21. AW1 Tim says:

    I remember watching film of the fires onboard both Forrestal and Enterprise at firefighting training in the Navy. The same day that we were to begin actual live fire-fighting at San Diego, we watched as USS Blue Ridge had an engine room fire that was fed by a fuel bunker rupture. You could see the smoke clearly in the harbor as she rode at anchor, and other vessels working to come alongside and render assistance.

    That made it real, and put the fear of God and oil-fed fires into me and those around me. We paid some serious attention after that.

  22. Living in Israel says:

    @15 said “Power without humility is power wasted.”

    I think most initiation rites are BS– either you have what it takes because you already had it, or you shouldn’t be there in the first place– but the message in #15’s statement is tried and true.

    So riddle me this: if the point of initiations is to reinforce humility among the new guys… does it become hazing when that message is abused by an initiator on a power trip? And if so… doesn’t that mean that the power-tripping initiator missed the message when he was the new guy?

  23. Living in Israel says:

    In retrospect, I agree with #5’s post.

  24. GOAD says:

    There are a lot of hypocrites on here. Remember learning of Honor and Loyalty? The MCPON makes a decision and you all revert to calling him an E9 and F**CK you MCPON? This is whats wrong with the mess nowadays a bunch of hypocrites running around tryin to make persons who were selected to be Chiefs feel extra small. Ive seen some of the ost corrupt, alcoholic, dishonorable CPOs run at the chance to HAZE (Yes HAZE) a new Chief when they are the ones out sleeping with Junior Sailors, Driving Drunk, Beating their Wives, and then you want to teach someone about HONOR…PLEASE. Give me a break. The tradition of the Mess is a great tradition, but maybe the MCPON realizes that this tradition has been tainted by E7s posing as Chiefs.

  25. Ex-PH2 says:

    You ought to know better than to post when you’re crocked, you know.

  26. LebbenB says:

    I think you left an “N” out of the middle of your screen name.

  27. NavCWORet says:

    My nickel’s worth..I was initiated in 1998, I think one of the last years of “no restrictions” initiations. I could tell right away which of the Mess were Chiefs and which were E7’s just acting like a@@holes. The real Chiefs not only smoked us, but built us back up afterward. The E7s only came into the Mess during meal hours and then just to fuck with us. Never made it to PT, never made it to training sessions, nothing. I think these E7s are the impetus for the reduction in “fun” activities (and yes, they were fun, in retrospect). A case of a few bad apples, some new E7 whining about how they were “abused” and the Navy worrying about it’s image in front of the press. I think part of the problem has been making Chief’s too damned early in their career. Used to be a very rare occurrence to see a Chief with less than 12 years (I was a 16 year Chief). Now it happens all the time. Frankly, I don’t think they’re really seasoned enough. Of course, there are exceptions, but too many these days are getting promoted too early.

    I think the LDO/CWO have been a recent victim of this and, as such, the minimum years of service have been increased to ensure that people who transition from enlisted to officer have the seasoning they need to be effective members of the Wardroom. [/rant]

  28. In The Navy says:

    Hi. I am new to this site and I found it by accident. My husband and I met at the USNA. He was so mean! But isn’t that the way it always goes, first at each others throats than giving each other hickies there? Well, anyway, he and I were on the same team at the Academy. He was a tightend and that’s what attracted me to him, his tight end. Anyway, I was a back-up punter and we used to harrass me all the time! I guess I’m getting away from the topic. What I want to say is that it’s the same old Navy, I think, just a little nicer, especially since we are free to be who we really are now.

  29. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad Damit!