Warrant Officers have existed since the Continental Congress authorized the construction thirteen frigates in December, 1775 and in conjunction specified seven Warrant Officers: Boatswains, Chaplains, Gunners, Surgeons, Carpenters, Mastersmates, and Pursers, with the last being the forerunner of today’s Supply Corps officers.

Prior to World War I, the majority of Warrant Officers had not worked their way up the Navy’s ladder of advancement. Throughout the 1800s, many Warrant Officers received direct appointments into the Navy after a career on a merchant vessel, where they mastered such positions as Boatswain or Carpenter.

The position of Warrant Officer underwent a major change in 1910, when Congressed passed legislation authorizing the yearly promotion of ten Warrant Officers to the rank of Ensign. Subsequently, the years after World War I saw a change in the makeup of the Navy’s CWOs, with almost all of them having previously served as enlisted personnel and having reached the rate of First Class Petty Officer.

Of course, as a Staff Corps, the change in regulations regarding CWOs did not at first have a significant impact on the procurement of new officers. Graduates of the Naval Academy could not become Supply Corps officers unless they had some type of physical impediment that prevented them from serving as line officers, so they made up a tiny fraction of the Corps’ staff. Before 1912, Supply Corps officers were selected based on the results of examinations (coupled with an “Adaptability” score assigned exam takers by the Corp’s entrance board); seventeen tests were taken in just six days, and this rigorous testing trimmed down the list of aspiring Supply Corps staffers considerably. At the start of the 20th century, only between eighty to one hundred out of a thousand seeking to take the Supply Corps tests were even given the opportunity, and of those less than a quarter passed and were commissioned.

For a brief period after World War I, only enlisted men could be commissioned as officers in the Supply Corps, but with the creation of the Naval Finance and Supply School, the Supply Corps began heading in the direction where four-year degrees were a prerequisite for acceptance into Officer Candidate School. But after World War II, the realization that the Navy could not afford to lose the expertise and knowledge of long-serving enlisted men who, in rare cases, were promoted to commissioned status but stood little chance of advancement beyond that initial step up. Over the next five decades, the regulations concerning CWOs was changed so that instead of being viewed as “token” officers, they took on the status deserving of their performance and abilities.

But the nature of the Navy Supply Corps has changed with the advent of “big data” and other technologies that demand leading-edge training, and consequently the amount of time an enlisted Sailor spent in a rating did not necessarily transfer over to the skills needed at the CWO level. Additionally, very few Sailors made the transition from Chief Petty Officer to Chief Warrant Officer in a Staff Corps such as Supply. In 2005, just two CPOs were named Chief Warrant Officers Supply Corps—and one of them only achieved the goal after the eight attempt. As a result, the Navy has now phased out the CWO program for the Supply Corps.

Important: Due to the extremely low demand on this item, it is manufactured on order. While we might have some in stock, please allow for up to 10 business days processing time.

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