1918 Bluejackets Manual


Printable version of Part Four in MS Word doc

1. Part IV of "The Bluejacket's Manual" is written as a general guide for chief petty officers. It should be regarded more in the light of an index as towhat chief petty officers of different branches are supposed to know, and what qualifications they are supposed to possess, than as a book of information. Inasmuch as every chief petty officer is supposed to be an expert in his own branch, an effort to embody in one book all of the information that each chief petty officer is supposed to know would result in a very large volume, as it would necessarily have to cover every detail of the naval profession. Consequently, this book is merely an index of the subjects that you are supposed to know; and it tells you where you may find the subject fully discussed.

2. Chief petty officers of each branch should therefore make a point of studying the subjects which relate to their particular specialty and should study them from the reference books mentioned. In doing this, chief petty officers should not overlook the subjects that are laid down for them as a class, irrespective of their specialty.

3. This "Short Talk to Chief Petty Officers" will, of course, be more directly applicable to those who are just coming up for their rate than to those who have held the rate for a long time; for chief petty officers of any length of service should be familiar with the duties and responsibilities of their position. However, as the same honor, dignity and demeanor are required of all chief petty officers, it is hoped that this "talk" may be of some value even to those who are already rated chief petty officers, by giving them the point of view of their senior officers, by telling them how their seniors regard them, how they desire to treat them, and, on the other hand, what degree of proficiency and what general demeanor they expect of them.

4. Take your own particular case, for example. It is quite probable that you entered the service a few years ago an inexperienced and irresponsible boy, without any knowledge of the Navy, of discipline, and probably without any knowledgeof the special branch; or specialty, in which you are now to become a chief petty officer. During the time you served through the lower ratings you were under instruction not only as to your individual duties, but also in the elements of discipline. While you were in the lower ratings, you were not supposed to be highly responsible; you were supposed to do what you were told, to acquire the knowledge requisite for the ratings you held, to use that knowledge under the direction of your petty officers, and to behave yourself and comply with the rules of military discipline.</


5. Then came a great change in your status; you were appointed a petty officer. When you receive this promotion, it showed that your officers considered that you had a sufficient knowledge of the details of the duties of your rating and that you were sufficiently disciplined to warrant your stepping up from a status in which you merely did what you were told to a status in which with the knowledge of what was required to be done and how it should be done, you could be trusted with the duty of taking charge of a number of men and giving them order, under the general direction of your seniors. Your duty was to follow up the work and assure yourself that it had been done properly. Instead of merely doing what your immediate petty officer told you to do, you as a petty officer, had a larger field and performed your duty not by your own labor, but by directing a group of men under you; and such was your status whether you were engaged in cleaning ship, painting ship, coaling ship or drilling.

In each case your excellence as a petty officer was measured by the amount and excellence of the work which was accomplished by the men under you, their practical knowledge,their proficiency, their thoroughness and their reliability. As time passed and as your experience increased, you were promoted from third class to second class, and finally, to first class; with each promotion you added to your experience and knowledge, your duties broadened and your responsibilities increased; nevertherless, at all times you were more or less under instruction and under trial.

6. You have now come to the point where having served through all the lower ratings, you are supposed to be an expert in your own branch. You have training and experience, and had you not succeeded in making your officers believe that you had proper regard for orders and for discipline, you would not now be coming up for chief petty officer. When you are promoted to chief petty officer, your status changes even to a greater extent that it changed when you were promoted from the ranks to petty officer. The change from petty officer, first class, to chief petty officer probably carries with it a greater change in status than any other promotion in your whole career. Your uniform changes, your quarters and your method of living changes; the treatment accorded you by your senior officers changes. All chief petty officers welcome these changes as well as the corresponding increase in pay. But don't forget that these are not the only features of your life that change. Along with all these changes comes a very great change in your responsibilities as well as the absolute necessity for a different point of view. If you forget the changes of this nature, you althogether fail in your duties to the Government.

7. The aim of this little talk is to dwell upon this new point of view, this increased feeling of responsibility, this sense of duty which impels you to do a thing not because you have to do it, but because it ought to be done, because it is your duty to do it.

8. The position of chief petty officer is one of special honor. It shows not only that you have served successfully, but that your service has met with the commendation of your seniors, that you are proficient, trustworthy and reliable. The uniform of a chief petty officer shows therefore not only that you are serving honorably now, but that you have served honorably for years, and have by your own successful effort risen to the top of the petty officers of your own branch. See to it that your entire demeanor is such as to elevate the standing of the uniform which you now wear. Make your life and your actions both on board ship and on shore such as to increase rather than to decrease the difference between the bluejacket's uniform and that of the chief petty officer.

9. Your position is such that your senior officers wish to treat you as an officer. In order to be accorded this treatment you must adopt the point of view of an officer. This point of view can best be described by saying that you must cultivate a deep sense of responsibility, a high sense of duty, and live up to a high professional standard.

10. Standard. The fact that you are a chief petty office is evidence that you know how thing should be done. Do not neglect to do your duty properly, do not fall to a lower standard simply because you think you will not be spoken to or reported for not doing this duty properly. Such an attitude is not surprising in a recruit; there are times when it may even be overlooked in the lower ratings of petty officer, but, as chief petty officer, you have passed that stage. You are constantly under the watchful eye of your juniors. Anything they see you do, they naturally think is all right. If, for example, they see that you are careless about your uniform or about saluting, regardless of the amount of instruction they may have received, their standard is lowered. If you are punctilious, the men under you will copy the precedent you have established. If your manner is military toward your seniors, you will find the enlisted men under you more easily brought up to standard. If the chief petty officers are thorough, respectful, and have a high sense of duty, the tone of the whole ship will follow. If, on the other hand, enlisted men see that the chief petty officers are unmilitary, that they violate orders and regulations when officers are not around, they will feel even more than ordinarily justified in doing likewise. The tone of the ship, the tone of the service itself must come more directly from the chief petty officers than from any other group of people in the Navy. You have the standard; live up to it, whether you are on independent duty, or on duty under officers; whether you are unobserved, or directly under the eye of your seniors. Live up to the standard, and you will find that those under you will be more inclined to do likewise.

11. Sense of Duty. You know the standard; you know what to do; you know the rules of discipline; of military etiquette; you know the regulations and instructions pertaining to your own branch. The Government not the officers over you pays you for your services. It pays you for doing things as you know they should be done. The sense of duty is feeling that impels you do these things not because you have to do them, but because it is your duty to do them. And in deciding whether it is your duty, be very liberal in your interpretation.

12. Sense of Responsibility It frequently happens that both commissioned officers and chief petty officers see things that should be done, although it is clear that it is not their duty to do them; such cases, for example, that would result in confusion were the officer or the chief petty officer in question to do them. If you are confronted with such a condition, take the point of view that you have reached a position of responsibility in the service; that something which should be done may have escaped notice; if this omission is clearly of such a nature that it is not your duty to remedy it, it in nevertheless, your duty to call the attention of proper person to such an omission. Sometimes lives are lost because some manifest danger has not been pointed out. If you are in doubt as to whether it is your duty to look after something that you know should be done, the only safe rule is to do it. If you know that it is someone else's duty, call attention to it. Take the attitude that you are part of the Navy, not merely a part of your department on an individual ship; try to do a little more rather than a little less than a strict interpretation of your duty demands. Both your seniors and you, yourself, will be better pleased, and the service will benefit thereby.

13. Professional Work. As a chief petty officer, you are an expert in your own department. There are no petty officers senior to you. Those below you will look up to you for information and instruction. Be sure that the information you give out is absolutely accurate. If you are weak on any feature of your specialty, study it up. It is all down somewhere in black and white. Study the best methods; keep up with all improvements. Do not feel that because you passed an examination you have finished studying. Keep yourself fully informed, and be ready to impart your knowledge and skill to your subordinates.

14. Thoroughness and Reliability. An absolute essential of your rating is reliability. This does not mean merely that you are certain to return on time for duty. It means that you may be relied upon to do thoroughly and in the manner that it should be done whatever you are going to do, however important the duty, and however general your orders may be. It means that when you report the duty finished your report may be accepted without an inspection and your senior feel that the duty has been done and everything finished as well and as thoroughly as it would have been done, had he been there personally. If, for any reason, you find that you cannot carry out your orders in every detail, report any part of the order you were unable to carry out and why you were unable to carry it out.

15. Duties. Every chief petty officer understands in a general way that he is the senior petty officer on the ship in his particular branch, that his duties are of a general nature in his department and that he is required to see his department and everything connected with it kept in shipshape condition. All this, however, constitutes but a part of a chief petty officer's duties. As a chief petty officer, you recognize these duties, but in paying due attention to the material, do not overlook your duties in connection with the personnel. Too many chief petty officers wholly neglect the fact that, in all probability, the most important part of their duty is the training and instruction of their subordinates. As a chief petty officer you are an expert in the details of your department. Unless your recognize that it is your duty to instruct your juniors and unless you do instruct them, and unless you endeavor to include in them the knowledge of how things should be done of how they should conduct themselves, your will have failed in your duties. Too often petty officers direct inexperienced men of lower ratings to carry out certain orders, and then think no more about it; later, when it is found that the work has not been done; or has not been thoroughly done, or has been done improperly, they lay the blame on the junior. In such a case it is clearly evident that the petty officer has neglected his duty. Remember always that you are an instructor, and that the instruction of your juniors is one of your most important duties; that it is your duty to instruct them not only in the details of the professions, but also in regard to their general conduct or demeanor on board ship. Not only is it your duty to instruct them; it is also your duty to enforce compliance with such instructions, and see that they are trained to do their duty properly, thoroughly, and to observe the rules and the regulations of the service.

16. Twofold Nature of Duties. Duties in the Navy are twofold in nature. Not only must you be expert in your specialty and be able to instruct others in that specialty; but in addition to this, do not for a moment forget the military side of your life. As a chief petty officer it is more incumbent upon you to remember this than it would be were you in one of the lower ratings. For example, if you happen to be a chief machinist's mate, there is no reason why you should not be able to march a squad of men in a military manner, halt them, and face them smartly. Because you may be a chief yeoman, there is no reason why you should neglect boat etiquette, or neglect to salute your seniors. If you happen to be a chief pharmacist's mate, that is no reason why you should not known and observe uniform regulations, or orders concerning ship routine. Each chief petty officer should take pride in knowing, in observing, and in requiring others under him to observe all of these details of ship life. Simply because you may not happen to be in the seaman branch, do not allow yourself for a moment to think that your duties do not extend to the military side of your profession.

17. Let Officers Judge Your Proficiency. It frequently happens, that, when the time draws near for a chief petty officer to receive a permanent appointment, or when he desires a letter of commendation preparatory to taking an examination for warrant, he becomes very enthusiastic, and eager to expound his points of excellence. Let your conduct as a chief petty officer be such that instead of being forced to explain your points of merit, your officers will already know them. Let your officers be the judges of your proficiency. An officer knows no greater pleasure than that of being able to give an unqualified recommendation to a man who has served under him. Your letter ought to be based on your excellent work as a chief petty officer rather than upon the excellent manner in which you plead your case when you come up for promotion.

18. Summary.

(1) You have a position in which you must have expert knowledge of every detail that applies to your branch of the profession.

(2) Your duties in training and instructing men of lower ratings are even more important than your duties in connection with the material.

(3) Your conduct must be entirely above reproach, and your daily life such as to set an example both from a personal as well as from a professional point of view.

(4) Whatever may be your special branch, always bear in mind the military side of the life. Comply strictly with the formalities of military life and require the same of your juniors.

(5) Yours is a position of honor and responsibility. Do your work from a sense of duty. Be thorough in all you do and require of your subordinates thoroughness and military exactitude.