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History of Maritime
US Navy
US Navy History and Traditions

Who was the first male chief petty officer?


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May 15, 2009 11:47AM

Technically, there was none. Navy General Order 409 established the Chief Petty Officer rate (enlisted rank) for 9 of the then 12 Navy ratings (job titles) on 25 February 1893. All personnel who were P.O. First Class in those 9 rates were either automatically advanced to Chief, or were able to be promoted to Chief as of 1 April 1893, the day the order went into effect. Thus a large number of Navy personnel made Chief simultaneously, and there was no single Chief before any other.

There is, however, one Jacob Wasbie who served aboard the USS Alfred with John Paul Jones, whose official job title changed from Cook's Mate to Chief Cook on 1 June 1776, before the concept of petty officers was formalized. This is the first recorded use of the word "Chief" being used in a job title in the US Navy.

Check out the excellent article below by CWO-4 Lester B. Tucker, USN (Retired), which is where I got this information for a recent lookup assignment: