Diary of a Sea-Going Sailor

Part 6, Chain of Command

US Navy enlisted working on ship
Smith Collection/Gado Archive Photos/Getty Images

Continued from Part 5

Rod tells me that there are many questions asked about one’s chain of command in the Navy. Well, on a ship, it’s pretty simple. When you check on board, one is assigned to a division. I will use my own rating & chain for the examples. I am assigned to CA division. The division is separated into four work centers, based on the equipment one is qualified to work on, and/or the type of work one is required to do.

CA01 work center is for the active sonar equipment, and its auxiliary gear. CA02 work center is for the passive sonar equipment, and its auxiliary gear. CA03 is for our underwater fire control equipment. And CA04 is for our underwater weapons (torpedoes).

The work center is run by a (drum roll) Work Center Supervisor (WCS). This individual makes the work assignments for that work center. So, unless one is the WCS or higher, one’s first link in the chain of command is their WCS.

Next level up is the division’s Leading Petty Officer, or LPO. This individual is usually the senior first class petty officer in the division.

After the LPO is the division’s Leading Chief Petty Officer, or LCPO. This is usually the senior Chief Petty Officer in the division… and often the only one.

Okay, the LCPO reports up to the Division Officer, often called simply the “DIVO” if she/he doesn’t have another title.

The CA Division officer is also the Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer, or ASWO.

That’s the chain within the division. From the DIVO, the next level is the Department Head. For CA division, it is the Weapons Officer, or WEPS (though on some ships it is the Combat Systems Officer, or CSO). From the Department head, the next step is the Executive Office, or XO, which leads to the top of the chain on the ship… the Commanding Officer, called “Captain” or “CO”, or in some cases, “Skipper”.

This is the basic chain of command for a Sonar Technician or Torpedoman’s Mate.

Now, just to make things even more interesting, there are some occasions where the chain… kinks. Depending upon the needs, there are several individuals that can be inserted into the chain, particularly where collateral duties and administrative paperwork are involved.

For example, as related to administrative/collateral duties, the Division Career Counselor reports to the Departmental Career Counselor, who reports to the Command Career Counselor. Similarly, fill in any other collateral duty, and the divisional representative reports to the departmental level, who reports to the command level representative.

One of the other “kinks” is the Command Masterchief (CMC). The CMC is the senior enlisted individual that acts as a liaison between the enlisted community and the officers. There are some items that when being addressed go from the LCPO to the CMC before going to the DIVO (if necessary to go to the DIVO). GUIDE NOTE: See Dedication to the First Sergeant, for the other service's equivalent.

That pretty much sums up the Chain of Command on a ship. Shore duty can be a little more… or less… simple, depending upon the type of shore duty one manages to acquire orders for.

Find Your Next Job

Job Search by