The Navy Plans to Give More Money to Sailors who Stay at Sea Longer

The Navy Plans to Give More Money to Sailors who Stay at Sea Longer

The Navy is introducing an experimental program aimed at extending sea deployments for sailors in certain occupations while offering large pay and promotion incentives.

In March, the program will allow sailors in four sea-intensive jobs to volunteer for another three years at sea following an initial four. Once on the second assignment, sailors will earn extra incentive pay, be promoted to E-5, and benefit from more priority if they want a shore-duty assignment after their years at sea are complete.

The program will be open to aircraft fuel specialists, aircraft handlers, gas turbine mechanics, and culinary specialists first.

In an interview with reporters, the Navy's director of military personnel, plans, and policy, Rear Adm. James Waters, expressed hope that the program will benefit both sailors and the Navy.

Waters said that sailors are developing a critical skill set at the four-year mark at sea, and he values that. "We want that experience to remain at sea, and we’re willing to offer some real incentives to keep it there,” Waters said.

Depending on the location and type of sea duty, cash incentives will range from $200-800 per month, Waters said. This pay would be in addition to the "sea pay" bonus the Navy offers sailors who are aboard ships.

However, Fleet Master Chief Wes Koshoffer stressed that the program is not only about pay increases. Koshoffer said geographical stability and advancement are very important to sailors.

Money, advancement, and stability are all important, he said. In order to retain sailors after their first enlistment, the Navy acknowledges it needs to do more. 

A Navy study found that sailors are more likely to stay if they feel they belong and are treated more like family. According to a recent Army survey, the impact of service on family relationships and goals is the top reason for leaving the Army.

The program's first phase is designed to attract about 250 sailors from each of the four specialties to volunteer for an extra sea tour.

After nine months or a year, the Navy will look at extending this program to other sea-intensive occupations that might be included in a second phase, such as navigators, retail specialists, electricians and damage control specialists.

Incentives for sailors to remain at sea are not a new idea in the Navy. As part of COVID-19, the branch offered sailors money to stay at deployed locations.

Waters said the Navy is looking at incentives to ensure those reasons for remaining at sea can be rewarded and incentivized based on how the Navy can benefit as well as the sailors.