In a 2011 analysis of Chief Warrant Officers, the Navy discovered that, on average, CWOs have eighteen years of experience behind them when they are commissioned. This amount of hands-on experience is absolutely essential for CWOs to effectively perform the role of intermediary between the enlisted personnel performing the hands-on technical duties necessary and other officers concerned with higher-level operations.
This is particularly true for Engineering Technicians, who are the technical supervisors of Sailors serving in a host of ratings ranging from Interior Communications Electrician to Hull Maintenance Technician. They serve as both supervisors and instructors for Sailors who operate and maintain propulsion, engineering, repair, and refrigeration systems, and they also oversee electrical systems upon which propulsion, steering, interior comms, power distribution, and more are dependent. They oversee Sailors tasked with the stowing, handling, and usage of fuel oil and the water that feeds the boilers, as well as those who adjust, repair, or calibrate instruments related to a host of shipboard functions.
Thankfully, the CWO program has been designed to attract the most dedicated and highly qualified candidates. CWOs typically are commissioned somewhere between fourteen and twenty years into the Naval careers, and after that time are often assigned to duties where they can hone their skills and acquire even more knowledge in order to stay up to speed on the latest changes in equipment and technology. Because they have all worked their way up through hard work and diligence and have also served as Chief Petty Officers, CWOs know what it’s like to answer the questions of enlisted personnel seeking to understand their assignments—and those enlisted personnel recognize the work the CWOs have put in to achieving their rank.
Although the Limited Duty Officer program has grown greatly in the past few years, it is a safe bet that the CWO program—and Engineering Technicians in particular—will be around for some time to come.