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Chiefs are the saltiest sailors in the Navy.

This reputation is well-earned. Being that it takes an average of 13 years to make Chief, they’re certainly in the upper echelons when it comes to raw experience. Many sailors hit their 13-year mark. Some Admirals hit 30+ years, but somehow fail to command the reputation that Chiefs have garnered over the centuries.

Some Chiefs, however, are known for being particularly salty. When first checking onboard, how do you know how much salt is under your LCPO’s anchors? Let’s delve into the deepest, darkest corners of the Chief’s Mess and discover the mythos that drives the Khaki Fear Machine with four ways to tell whether your Chief is the ship’s Salt Mine?

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What does his coffee mug look like?

If you’ve ever set foot on a ship, one of the first rules you learned was “Don’t wash Chief’s mug.”

An unwashed mug is a badge of honor to a Navy Chief. It’s a signal of veterancy to other sailors. You can measure the time a Chief has at sea by measuring the rings of seasoning on his mug. Some Chiefs go three or four deployments with the same mug, drinking coffee out of it daily without a single drop of soapy water touching it.

If your Chief’s mug looks like it’s been used to plant trees, that’s your first sign.

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What do his tattoos look like?

Navy tattoos are a time-honored tradition. Sailors get tattoos to commemorate achievements and milestones in their careers. There are tattoos for crossing the equator, visiting Hong Kong, and swimming in certain oceans.

It goes without saying, then, that a Chief covered neck-to-toe with meaningful tattoos has been around the damn block. There are exceptions. We were all young once, and many of us got dumb tattoos. It’s unlikely that a tattoo of the Monster Energy Drink logo is to commemorate a liberty call to the Monster factory, therefore.

If you see lanterns, anchors, marine creatures, tridents, or warships, though: There’s your second sign.

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Is the command turning a blind eye?

Allow me to explain.

If the ship’s 25mm cannon fails in the middle of an inspection shoot, you might see an old Chief jamming his wrench-clenching fist into the gun. This is not strictly allowed. There are procedures to follow when repairing equipment, but Chief has probably seen this before, and there’s a good chance he’s about to save the inspection.

If Chief’s moustache extends more than 1/4″ from the corner of his mouth and everybody knows it, it’s because someone is too scared to say something to him.

If he’s getting away with it, that’s your third sign.

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Does he know what the f*ck he’s doing?

Chiefs are expected to be subject matter experts. They know their gear inside and out, they know procedures, they know traditions, and they know publications like the back of their hand.

Some Chiefs take that to the next level. If your Chief can fix a piece of electronic gear with gum and aluminum foil, he’s got some salt. If he’s smoking a cigar while shooting the Ma Deuce, he’s got some salt. If he’s got hot tips about specific bars in a place no one else has ever been before, he’s got some salt.

If your Chief has become a Navy God, that’s your fourth sign.

So, tell us: Is your Chief too salty?

If he is, get on his good side with one of Navy Crow’s Anchored coins. Available in Surface Warfare, Submarine Warfare, Air Warfare, and Seabee Warfare, you might not get a smile (he might not be physically able), but you’ll definitely get a grunt of approval.

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