9 things new chief petty officers do when they put on khakis

The US Navy is an institution rich in tradition with its own language and elaborate ceremonies. One of those ceremonies is the Chief Petter Officer initiation.

Ask any sailor what a newly made chief does as soon as they put on the khaki uniform and you’ll get mixed results. Responses vary from the good to the awfully absurd and usually based on a sailor’s time in service.

For example, this sailor on Facebook said that his chief completely changed when he put on the khakis for the first time:

navy chief walk on water

Ask a chief and he’ll say that it’s one of the hardest and most satisfying jobs in the world:

navy chief milestone

WATM did an informal poll of sailors of all ranks to uncover the nine common things that new chiefs do when they put on the khakis:

1. Smile incessantly for about an hour.

smiling chief at frocking

Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Trevor Welsh/USN

They’ve just been made and now have the privilege to do the following eight things:

2. Get a new coffee mug that says “chief.”

navy chief coffee mug

Photo: navychief.com

A good chief’s mug will be respected and left alone. A bad chief will have their mug washed out. Apparently, chiefs have it in their mind that their unwashed coffee mugs have super caffeine powers.

3. Start calling everyone ‘shipmate.’

shipmate navy chief

Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jennifer A. Villalovos/USN

Everyone becomes a “shipmate” once you become a chief. It used to be that they call everyone by their rate (Navy job) and rank.

4. Start calling other khakis by their first names.

Photo: Chief Mass Communication Specialist Tiffini Jones Vanderwyst/USN

Photo: Chief Mass Communication Specialist Tiffini Jones Vanderwyst/USN

It’s now Frankie and Jane instead of Smith and Martinez.

5. Start eating like a king in the chief’s mess.

navy chief's mess dinner feast

Rumor has it that the chiefs eat better than the officers aboard a ship.

6. Gain weight.

navy chief fat over weight

Everything has a cause and effect.

7. Pass off the ensign to the first-class.

navy ensign 1st class petty officer chief

Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Deven B. King/USN

They lose an ensign but gain a lieutenant.

8. Wait for the first person to call him ‘sir’ so he can say, “don’t call me sir, I work for a living.”

chief discipline navy recruiting command

Photo: USN

Along with the new position comes treasure trove of cliché terms that they’ve been waiting years to use. (Poor boot, he confused the chief for an officer.)

Also read: 21 of the US military’s most-overused clichés>

9. Change their civilian wardrobes to match their uniforms.

navy chief wardrobe

Photo: NavyChief.com

(OBTW: It’s safe to call a chief “a lifer.” If they’ve made it this far, you can expect to get a full 20 years before retiring.)

NOW: 9 WTF? questions Navy recruits have at boot camp >

OR: 13 lessons every new sailor learns the hard way >