Even more unique is one department on one ship with four chief warrant officers in sequential order from CWO2 to CWO5.
“We have four chief warrant officers in Engineering department, which is very rare,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Mark Swarringim, the quality assurance officer aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). “What makes this particular alignment even rarer is that all four of us are engineer-designated chief warrant officers, and we have one at each pay grade, CWO2 through CWO5. I have not seen four chief warrant officers in engineering department onboard any of my previous aircraft carriers, let alone one in each grade. I find that to be pretty awesome.”
Swarringim’s fellow Engineering CWOs are Chief Warrant Officer 4 Scott Loftin, ship’s auxiliaries technical assistant; Chief Warrant Officer 3 Noel Genao, fire marshal; and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Kyle Francis, repair officer.
“Having four warrant officers in our department has benefited us a great deal,” said Genao. “If one of us doesn’t know something, someone else will. It benefits our department and the training we are able to give to our department.”
Warrant officers have served in the Navy for 200 years beginning in 1775, when Sailors received warrants to act as pursers. A purser was a ship official responsible for papers and accounts, as well as, the comfort and welfare of passengers. The warrant established a relationship of honor and trust with the Sailor, but did not give the Sailor a commission to command a ship.
As technology in the military became more complex, the need for specialists increased considerably. To adapt to this new technology, the Navy hired civilian engineers to help conduct training and demonstrations. These engineers eventually transformed into positions known as chief engineer, passed assistant engineer and assistant engineer, according to Limited Duty Officer and Warrant Officer Programs, NP-15525.
The modern CWO rank evolved to “rank with, but after ensign,” and was introduced to the Navy and Marine Corps at the turn of the 19th century.
Today, CWOs are chosen from enlisted chief petty officers and serve in 29 specialties within five categories, including engineering.
CWOs may be limited in their duties as technical experts in their field, but they provide focused management and experienced leadership.
“I like having the best of both worlds. I get to be in the officer ranks, plus I get to fix things and get my hands dirty,” said Loftin.
Typically, traditional officers possess rank but not always the same level of technical experience as their CWO counterparts. This experience is essential to the ship and continues to move TR’s mission forward, said Francis
“We as officers, whether staff, line, unrestricted line, limited duty officer or chief warrant officer, are a team and share our knowledge and skill amongst other officers to execute the ship’s mission with the highest possible state of readiness,” said Swarringim. “All Navy chief warrant officers, with the exception of the limited time we had a flying chief warrant officer program, are all former chief petty officers and have about 16 years of enlisted experience. As prior chiefs, chief warrant officers are easily able to bridge any gap between the Chiefs Mess and the Wardroom to execute solid technical solutions to just about any problem. The focus is never about what other officers do not offer but about what I as a CWO can offer to the team based on experience.”
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katie Lash, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs