NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WVEC) -- Under the Enlisted Rating Modernization Plan, every sailor would now be known as a chief petty officer, petty officer or seaman rather than the rating titles they had gone by, a tradition that dates back before the Navy's founding in 1775.

Some sailors view the move as a stripping of time-honored titles.

As of Oct. 5th, a White House petition demanding the policy be reversed has gotten more than 66,000 signatures; 100,000 are needed to get a response from the commander in chief.

But top brass say the change is a much needed career overhaul that will give sailors more opportunities and better chances to get civilian jobs after the service.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says he's not surprised there is opposition.

"Any time you change stuff, people grumble about it," he said. "A lot of it comes from the alumni association, from the retirees. And I got that, everything was fine when I was there and you guys went and messed it up. But the reason we're doing this is to make careers more flexible, to make promotions easier."

In he end, Mabus says, there will be acceptance. When asked if sailors will come around, he said: "Yeah."