In 1933, the Chief Petty Officers organized themselves into an association that would make their issues and concerns known to Coast Guard Headquarters. It was an effort of small groups gathered along district lines. They did not initially receive full endorsement by CGHQ. However, the Association went forward anyway and in December 1933, met at the War Memorial Building in Baltimore, Md. This meeting was described as "the most significant of any previous meeting in the affairs of CPOs and the real corner stone of the organization was laid." However, the actual establishment date was March 25, 1933, at the Coast Guard Depot at Curtis Bay, Md., which allowed Curtis Bay to lay claim to being the first CPOA chapter in the Coast Guard.
The framers of the CPO Constitution drew their constitutional ideal from the U.S. Constitution and adopted the motto "Ut Prosimus" meaning "That we may be of Service." There were 29 charter members in March 1933.
The CPOA was re-founded in 1969 after being disbanded during World War II. ADM Willard J. Smith officially recognized CPOA on April 7, 1969. CPOA now has 55 chapters nationwide with approximately 11,00 members.