Navy advances 30 to chief petty officer in Groton ceremony
Groton ― The Navy on Friday advanced 30 petty officers to the rank of chief petty officer, in the first large pinning ceremony held since before the pandemic.
Designated as “chief selects“ when the ceremony began, the khaki-clad petty officers marched onto the stage at Dealey Center Theater, singing “Anchors Aweigh” and then the National Anthem.
The bulk of the new chiefs are from the Naval Submarine School, with others from the Naval Submarine Base, Submarine Readiness Squadron 32, and Naval Undersea Medical Institute, including one who grew up in Ledyard.
Three officers at a time got their pin affixed by some combination of family members ― wife and mother, wife and daughter, father and uncle, sisters. Chiefs placed the covers, or caps, on the new chiefs.
Lining the front of the stage were differently designed wooden boxes, called vessels, each containing a “charge book” filled with wisdom from chiefs. Chiefs wear the emblem of an anchor with a chain and the letter U.S.N., standing for unity, service and navigation.
“In the United States Navy ― and only in the United States Navy ― the rank of E7 carries with it unique responsibilities and privileges you are now bound to observe and expected to fulfill,” the United States Navy Chief Petty Officer Creed reads. “Your entire way of life is now changed. More will be expected of you; more will be demanded of you.”
It goes on, “You have not merely been promoted one pay grade, you have joined an exclusive fellowship and, as in all fellowships, you have a special responsibility to your comrades, even as they have a special responsibility to you.”
Naval Submarine School Public Affairs Officer Lauren Laughlin explained that the Navy in September sent out a list of every E-6 who could make E-7, and chiefs and commanding officers took these candidates through a six-week training process.
One of the new chiefs is Nicolas Polonsky, a third generation Navy serviceman who moved with his family to Ledyard at age 7 and graduated from Ledyard High School.
Polonsky’s fiancé and 6-year-old daughter came onstage during the pinning ceremony. Also supporting him in the audience were his father and father’s wife, mother, sister and her daughter, and grandparents.
His father, James Polonsky, said while tearing up that he was “beaming with pride.” A Navy corpsman for 10 years who left for medical reasons rather than by choice, he said he wanted his son to be self-sufficient and “to be part of something bigger than him.”
After first leaving for boot camp at age 20, Nicolas Polonsky was soon back in Groton for Basic Enlisted Submarine School and then Sonar Technician Submarine School. He spent five and a half years in Bangor, WA, serving on the USS Ohio, and has been back in Groton for three years.
Polonsky has done two deployments on the USS Colorado and said he “spent 70% of the last three years underwater.” He was transferred recently to be an instructor at the Naval Submarine School.
One of the people with whom he served on the USS Ohio is Senior Chief Shane Adkins, who has been a chief since 2013 and now teaches students about primary weapons, navigation and cyber security.
He volunteers every year to sponsor one chief select during their six-week training, spending a lot of time helping through the process.
“We try to instill in them that they’re not successful without help,” Adkins said. He added that being a chief is not just about being good at your job, but about empowering others to be good at theirs.