Master Chief Petty Officer

Good Conduct Variation


Master Chief Petty Officer is the ninth, and highest, enlisted rank in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard, just above Senior Chief Petty Officer, and is a non-commissioned officer. They are referred to as Master Chief in most circumstances.

Advancement to Master Chief Petty Officer is similar to that of Chief Petty Officer and Senior Chief Petty Officer. It carries requirements of time in service, superior evaluation scores, specialty examinations, and peer review. A Senior Chief Petty Officer can only advance if the existing master chiefs approve.

Master Chief Petty Officers are generally considered to be the liaisons between the enlisted personnel and the commissioned officers, in particular the Commanding Officer. Their duties tend to be administrative except possibly when the command is very large (e.g. an aircraft carrier). In the case where there are many MCPOs and one interfaces with CO (being the most senior of the MCPOs) this officer is known as the "Command Master Chief". Their uniform reflects this administrative duty; becoming similar to that of an officer, albeit with different insignia than an officer.

Like Petty Officers, every chief has both a rate (rank) and rating (job, similar to an MOS in other branches). A chief's full title is a combination of the two. Thus, a Master Chief Petty Officer, who has the rating of Machinist's Mate would properly be called a Machinist's Mate Master Chief.

Each rating has an official abbreviation, such as MM for Machinist's Mate, BT for Boiler Technician, or YN for Yeoman. When combined with the petty officer level, this gives the short-hand for the chief's rank, such as BMCM for Boatswain's Mate Master Chief. It is not uncommon practice to refer to the master chief by this short hand in all but the most formal correspondence (such as printing and inscription on awards). Mostly, though, they are simply called "Master Chief," regardless of rating.

The rate insignia for a master chief is an eagle with spread wings above three cheverons. The cheverons are topped by a rocker that goes behind the eagle (or "crow," as it is commonly called). Two inverted stars (a reference to the stars used on the sleeves of line officers) are placed above the crow. This is used on the Dress Blue uniform. On all other uniforms, the insignia used is the one that has become universally accepted as the symbol of the Chief Petty Officer. This is a fouled (entwined in the anchor chain) gold anchor superimposed with a silver "USN." Like the dress blue insignia, this is capped by two upside-down stars.

Collectively, officers and chiefs are referred to as "khakis." This is a reference to the color of their most common uniforms, and is a direct contrast to those in paygrades E-6 and below (or, blueshirts).

There exists one post, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy, which is unique. The holder of this post represents the most senior enlisted member in the U.S. Navy.