Development of the PO ranking system in the RN

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Development of the PO ranking system in the RN

Postby OSCSSW » 19 Nov 2013 15:36

As I said when I joined this forum, I was here to learn from folks who really know their subject.

So here goes.

Would you describe how the PO/CPO ranking system developped in the RN during the Victorian period.

We, in the USN, saw our own PO/CPO ranking system evolved from a very ad hoc process, at the discretion of the
CO and particular to each warship, into a more formal and professional cadre of long service POs/CPOs.

I have a hunch what we did was patented on the RN but would appreciate more details.
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Re: Development of the PO ranking system in the RN

Postby crimea1854 » 19 Nov 2013 20:51

On the basis that Continuous Service was only first introduced into the Royal Navy in 1853, and prior to this date it was only Warrant Officers who were retained, then I think it reasonable to assume that this was the beginning of the introduction of formal Petty Officer rates. Prior to 1853 men signed on only for the duration of a ship’s commission, and would be assigned what were to become effective PO rates based on their previous service and experience .

Martin
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Re: Development of the PO ranking system in the RN

Postby Frogsmile » 30 Dec 2013 12:36

OSCSSW wrote:As I said when I joined this forum, I was here to learn from folks who really know their subject.

So here goes.

Would you describe how the PO/CPO ranking system developped in the RN during the Victorian period.

We, in the USN, saw our own PO/CPO ranking system evolved from a very ad hoc process, at the discretion of the
CO and particular to each warship, into a more formal and professional cadre of long service POs/CPOs.

I have a hunch what we did was patented on the RN but would appreciate more details.


Knowing your interest as I do from a previous exchange of communication here, I feel that you will not only find the answer to your question in some detail at the following website, but also enjoy several hours of interesting reading:

http://www.godfreydykes.info/THE%20ROYA ... %20ONE.htm
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Re: Development of the PO ranking system in the RN

Postby OSCSSW » 19 Apr 2014 16:37

crimea1854 wrote:On the basis that Continuous Service was only first introduced into the Royal Navy in 1853, and prior to this date it was only Warrant Officers who were retained, then I think it reasonable to assume that this was the beginning of the introduction of formal Petty Officer rates. Prior to 1853 men signed on only for the duration of a ship’s commission, and would be assigned what were to become effective PO rates based on their previous service and experience .

Martin


Martin, just came across this. Note the initial date 1853. :o

History of the Chief Petty Officer Grade by CWO-4 Lester B. Tucker, USN (Retired)
Reprinted from Pull Together: Newsletter of the Naval Historical Foundation and the Naval Historical Center, Vol. 32, No. 1 (Spring-Summer 1993).

This article covers the history of the grade of Chief Petty Officer (In the USN). April 1, 1993, marked the 100th anniversary of the creation of that grade. It is necessary, however, to look back to the origins of the Continental Navy to establish the foundation of relative grades and classifications that led to the ultimate establishment of the CPO grade. During the Revolutionary War, Jacob Wasbie, a Cook's Mate serving on board the Alfred, one of the first Continental Navy warships, was promoted to "Chief Cook" on June 1, 1776. Chief Cook is construed to mean Cook or Ship's Cook which was the official rating title at that time. This is the earliest example of the use the term "Chief" located to date by the author.

The United States Navy (Successor to the Continental Navy disbanded in 1785) was reauthorized under the Constitution by an act of March 27, 1794.

Petty officers, who were appointed by the Captain, consisted of one Captain's Clerk, two Boatswain's Mates, a Coxswain, a Sailmaker's Mate, two Gunner's Mates, one Yeoman of the Gun Room, nine Quarter Gunners (eleven were allowed for the two larger vessels), two Carpenter's Mates, an Armorer, a Steward, a Cooper, a Master-at-Arms, and a Cook. Non-petty officers, as listed in the 1797 act, consisted of 103 Ordinary Seamen and Midshipmen and 150 Able Seamen for the larger frigates; the smaller vessel, Constellation, was allowed 130 Able Seamen and Midshipmen and 90 Ordinary Seamen. None of those figures included Marines, which added three Sergeants, three Corporals, one Drummer, on e Fifer, and 50 Marine Privates to the complement of the larger ships. The 36 gun frigate was allowed 1 less Sergeant and Corporal and 40 rather than 50 Marines.

Generally speaking, precedence of petty officers was not really introduced until the U.S. Navy Regulations, approved February 15, 1853, were published. It must be pointed out that those regulations were declared invalid by the Attorney General on May 3, 1853, and were rescinded due merely to the fact that the President rather than Congress approved them. However, this did not mean that the information and the guidelines contained in them were inaccurate. Conversely, the Secretary of the Navy submitted a set of naval regulations for Congressional acceptance on December 8, 1858, but they were never acted upon in that session of Congress. Based upon pay tables of the period, the contents of the 1858 plan, like the regulations of 1853, appear to have contained the current rating structure of that period.

Prior to 1853, one could infer a quasi-precedence of ratings based upon the sequence in which ratings were listed within complement charts; this is backed by differences in pay of various petty officers. Another issue to be considered is the fact that the order of the names of the petty officers as they appeared on muster rolls could generally be considered an order of precedence. Precedence of ratings was explicitly spelled out in Navy Regulations approved on March 12, 1863. At this point it is useful to review the early Civil War petty officer rating structure just prior to the official usage of "Chief" with rating titles. Petty officers were listed under two categories--Petty Officers of the Line and Petty Officers of the Staff as shown in Table 1.

The 1863 Regulations made the priority of ratings clear: "Precedence among petty officers of the same rate, if not established particularly by the commander or the vessel, will be determined by priority of rating. When two or more have received the same rate on the same day, and the commander of the vessel shall not have designated one of that rate to act as a chief, such as chief boatswain's mate, chief gunner's mate, or chief or signal quartermaster, their precedence shall be determined by the order in which their names appear on the ship's books. And precedence among petty officers of the same relative rank is to be determined by priority of rating; or in case of ratings being of the same date, by the order in which their names appear on the ship's books." That lengthy paragraph was shortened in the 1865 regulations to read simply, "Precedence among Petty Officers of the sa me rate shall be established by the Commanding Officer of the vessel in which they serve."

Precedence by rating was a fact of Navy life for the next 105 years and was substantiated by rating priority and the date of an individual's promotion. Precedence of ratings remained in effect until the issue of Change #17 of August 15, 1968, to the 1959 Bureau of Naval Personnel (BUPERS) Manual. At that time, precedence among ratings was eliminated and changed to a single system for military and non-military matters based on pay grade and time in grade.

On January 8, 1885, the Navy classed all enlisted personnel as first, second, or third class for petty officers, and as Seaman first, second, or third class for non-petty officers. Chief Boatswain's Mates, Chief Quartermasters and Chief Gunner's Mates were positioned at the Petty Officer First Class level within the Seaman Class; Masters- at-Arms, Apothecaries, Yeomen (Equipment, Paymasters, and Engineers), Ships Writers, Schoolmasters and Band Masters were also First Class Petty Officers but came under the Special Branch; finally, Machinists were carried at the top grade within the Artificer Branch. Included under the Special Branch at the second class petty officer level was the rate of Chief Musician who was junior to the Band Master. That rate was changed to First Musician under the 1893 realignment of ratings was and carried as a petty officer first class until 1943.

On April 1, 1893, two important steps were taken. First, the grade of Chief Petty Officer was established; secondly, most enlisted men received a pay raise. The question is often asked, "Who was the first Chief Petty Officer?" The answer is flatly: "There was no first Chief Petty Officer due to the fact that nearly all ratings carried as Petty Officers First Class from 1885 were automatically shifted to the Chief Petty Officer level." Exceptions were Schoolmasters, who stayed at first class; Ship's Writers, who stayed the same but expanded to include second and third class; and Carpenter's Mates, who had been carried as second class petty officers but were extended to include chief, first, second, and third classes. Therefore, the Chief Petty Officer grade on April 1, 1893, encompassed the nine rates shown in Table 2.

Prior to the establishment of the Chief Petty Officer grade, and for many years thereafter, commanding officers could promote petty officers to acting appointments in order to fill vacancies in ships' complements. Men served various lengths of time under acting appointments, generally six months to a year. If service was satisfactory, the captain recommended to the Bureau of Navigation (called the Bureau of Personnel, BUPERS, after October 1, 1942) that an individual be given a permanent appointment for the rate in which he served. Otherwise the commanding officer could reduce an individual to the grade or rate held prior to promotion if he served under an acting appointment. The change in status from acting to permanent appointment was always a "breathe-easier" occurrence. This meant that the commanding officer could not reduce a Chief Petty Officer in rate if he messed up. It took a court-martial and the Bureau's approval to reduce a Chief serving under a permanent appointment.
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