By Mass Communication Specialist 2rd Class, Adam K. Thomas, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) Public Affairs.
Chief Petty Officers (CPO) assigned to USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet combined Chiefs' Mess gathered on the ship's flight deck April 1 to commemorate the 125th birthday of the rank of CPO.
Effectively running and fighting a warship relies on bridging the gap between officers and enlisted personnel. It was from this need that Congress enacted a bill officially establishing the rank of Chief Petty Officer April 1, 1893. For 125 years, Chief Petty Officers have been the deck plate leaders and backbone of the Navy.
“I’m extremely honored to be here today with my fellow Chiefs hoisting our nation’s colors and remembering all the fine men and women who’ve come before us to make the Chief Petty Officer association what it is today,” said USS Blue Ridge Command Master Chief James Grant.
Despite strong winds and cold temperatures, 39 CPOs stood in formation, braving the weather, to pay their respects and honor the deep history and cultural significance of the CPO association.
CPOs provide service to officers as well as junior Sailors. They navigate young Sailors toward the future. A chief is the foundation and guidepost for setting standards, as well as the epitome of what leadership is.
“It’s such a humbling experience to be a Chief in today’s Navy,” said Chief Information Systems Technician, Wilfredo Casillas. “Leading and grooming young Sailors in order to ensure the mission is completed can be challenging, but is also very rewarding.”
The ability to bridge the gap and provide solutions to both officers and enlisted personnel makes them not only silent professionals, but also ensures the old mantra, “ask the Chief,” shall remain a vital part of the Navy well into its future.
The Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Commander, 7th fleet and USS Blue Ridge combined CPO mess will also host a 5k run, Chiefs luncheon and cake cutting throughout the weekend to continue the celebration.
Blue Ridge commissioned Nov. 14, 1970, making it the oldest operational ship in the Navy. After 47 years in service, the 7th Fleet Flagship is scheduled to stay in active service for another 20-plus years.
As command ship for U.S. Seventh Fleet, Blue Ridge has been forward deployed to the Yokosuka, Japan, area of responsibility for 38 years, patrolling and fostering relationships within the Indo-Asia Pacific Region.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/USSBlueRidge/ or visit www.navy.mil/local/lcc19/.