The Legacy of El Cid: The Goat, The Chief
Traditionally, the goats and the Navy have a long history together in the United States Navy.
Prior to the advent of refrigeration, goats would serve as a source of fresh meat and milk to crews that would stay out to sea for long periods of time. Most livestock could not handle the rigors of life at sea; Goats, being some tough S.O.B.’s, were revered for their “sea legs” and being able to stay healthy in any weather conditions. A truly seaworthy animal!
These animals, being so critical to the crew’s survival, could only be cared for by the most responsible and mature Sailors. Officer’s lacked experience with livestock, and the younger
Enlisted lacked the maturity needed to care for the animals. Only the seasoned older enlisted crewmembers had the maturity and know-how to take care of the goats that were so integral to the crew’s nutrition at sea.
On April 1, 1893 the rank of Chief Petty Officer was established, and those older gentlemen
entrusted with the shipboard goats were promoted to the this newly established rank. The rank of Chief Petty Officer signified a Sailor as being the pinnacle of the Enlisted force – maintaining discipline in the junior ranks and training young Officers to lead at sea. The area where the Chiefs congregated, the same area where the goats where kept, soon became known as the “goatlocker,” and from then on, Sailors in the Navy knew that is where the backbone of the Navy lay.
As the turn of the 20th century came and brought with it new food preservation technologies, goats aboard ship transitioned from being a food source to pets. One said goat, by the name of El Cid, was the pet aboard USS New York (Armored Cruiser No. 2), and in 1893, the newly minted Chiefs on USS New York gifted El Cid to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. El Cid was brought in as good luck for that year’s annual Army-Navy game, to which the Navy rode to victory. The Academy attributed the victory to El Cid, leading to him becoming the Navy’s first mascot.
These days goats no longer ride on Navy ships, however, the Goatlocker still remains onboard every commissioned naval vessel. In the Goatlocker, you will find only the crustiest, oneriest, most stubborn old goats of them all – the Chief Petty Officers of the U.S. Navy! Still tasked as the keepers of heritage, technical experts and molders of young Officers, the Navy Chief has cemented their place as the backbone of the Navy.
Our beer and brewery is dedicated to our long lost friend, El Cid, and all the crusty old goats that have served in our fine Navy since that first day in April, eighteen ninety-three.