A lot of old salts say the Navy is minting chiefs too young these days. The data says otherwise.

The average sailor advances to chief petty officer at around 13.5 years, after having spent roughly five years as an E-6, according to Navy advancement data. The numbers fluctuate slightly each year, but never more than a percentage point in the past decade. But there is a growing number of high-performing sailors who earn their anchors in less than eight years.

Though the averages stay the same, what the data also does shows is that due to changes in the rules — allowing early promote sailors to compete after only two years as a first class  — allow more to hot-runners in more career fields to earn their anchors by the eight-year mark. numbers are rising in the number of career fields seeing more new chief’s at the eight year mark and below. 

In 2015, among the 90 competitive groups at the E-7 level, most of the selectees had between Navy ratings advances to sailors to chief petty officer somewhere between nine and 18 years of service. But there were exceptions — the most junior chief made it at 5.5 years, while the most longest in the tooth had got their anchors at 21.5 years of service.   

Three times in the past five years, a sailor has made it to the goat locker in under six years. But never more one in each of those three years. 

This year,  after two years with no five-year chiefs, Chief Damage Controlman (SW) Jose Rosario was selected at 5.5 years of service while on an nearly promote waiver; he'd only been a first class for two years. with only two years time as a first class. 

He isn't the only one, however. But e wasn’t the first

In both 2011 and 2012, this highly rare feat was accomplished in 5.67 years of service with 2.5 years in grade by an intelligence specialist and again the following year in 5.83 years of service and again, 2.5 years in grade by an operations specialist.

But while that’s rare, An analysis of the data shows that though breaking the six-year barrier is quite rare. However, the number of ratings to pick at least the numbers ratings that advance at least one six- to eight-year CPO as well as those advancing between six and eight years is on the rise. 

In 2011, along with the one five-year chief, six sailors put on anchors in six years; 17 in seven years and another 16 with eight years.  with 17 ratings advancing  someone in seven and another 16 in the eight year point.  The bottom line was that  Over a third of the career fields advanced someone in eight years or less — and in the years since that’s now doubled.  

That number rose to 50 in 2012; dipped to 46 in 2013; and  increased to 52 in 2014.  Last year, it rose to and rose last year to 58 of the 90 ratings advancing someone in under eight years.

Navy-wide averages

In 2015, sub-qualified nuclear electronic’s technicians had the lowest average advancement to chief with 28 sailors putting on anchors in an average of just under 10 years of service and four and a half years in grade as a first class. The earliest advanced in 7.4 years; the longest it took anyone any in that rating advanced was 16.3 years. 

On the other end of the spectrum is the Seabee construction mechanic rating, which advanced 11 to chief in 2015 in an average of 16.83 years, after spending an average of just over eight years as a first class. The earliest any of them put on their anchors was at 13 and a half years, and they even had someone make it with more than put on chief with over 20 years of service.  

Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.

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