By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kathryn E. Macdonald, USS Constitution Public Affairs
CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (NNS) -- USS Constitution began its 14th annual Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Heritage Weeks training for CPO selectees Aug. 15.
Constitution's CPO mess designed CPO Heritage Weeks to instill pride in naval heritage and build esprit de corps while selectees lived and trained aboard the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.
"The wonderful part about CPO Heritage Weeks is that Constitution Sailors get the opportunity to not only learn about the fleet but also meet the leaders who are out there," said Cmdr. Matt Bonner, Constitution commanding officer. "The big takeaway for the chief selects is they learn about and see all the things that Sailors assigned here do and how they live, plus they experience what life was like in the early Navy through gun and boarding pike drills, sail training, and living aboard 'Old Ironsides.'"
During CPO Heritage Weeks, Constitution's crew teaches approximately 300 chief selectees a variety of time-honored maritime evolutions. Selectees will learn boarding pike and War of 1812-era gun drills using Constitution's traditional 24-pound naval long guns. They also will learn small boat operations and how to climb the ship's shrouds.
"I hope to gain a deeper knowledge of our naval heritage through the selectee training," said Chief Culinary Specialist (Select) (SW) Brian Pettee. "Just recently being assigned to the USS Constitution and finding out I was selected to become a chief petty officer was an extremely humbling."
"One of the highlights of my first few weeks in command was calling in the three Sailors to tell them they were selected for chief," said Bonner. "It is a great feeling seeing the Sailors assigned to Constitution be recognized for all the outstanding work they have done both here and throughout their careers and demonstrates that we are getting the right people at this command."
Additionally, selectees supported the local community by helping at the New England Homeless Veterans Center, Old Soldier's Home in Chelsea, Mass., and Harvard-Kent Elementary School in Charlestown.
Mentor CPOs guide and train selectees as they endure the rigors of the CPO induction process.
"The chief selectees will be challenged throughout the week," said Senior Chief Yeoman (EXW) Anthony B. Iadevaia, a mentor chief for CPO Heritage Weeks. "The USS Constitution is a unique ship that truly exemplifies the need for teamwork. Selects will learn that only with teamwork will they be able to load the guns, raise the sails and get underway. These are only a few examples of tasks that require teamwork, effective communications, and leadership. All are critical to being 'the chief' and are decisive in their development as future CPOs."
Constitution is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat. The ship defended the sea lanes against threat from 1797 to 1855, much like the mission of today's Navy. Constitution's mission today is to offer community outreach and education about the ship's history, as she welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year.