Sailors in sea-intensive ratings at E-4 and below who wrap up a four-year apprentice sea tour are eligible for several benefits if they sign on to another three-year journeyman sea tour as an E-5, according to a naval administrative message released Thursday.
“At that four-year mark at sea, the sailor is just developing a critical skill set for us,” Fleet Master Chief Wes Koshoffer told reporters Dec. 7. “We value that, we want that experience to remain at sea, and we’re willing to offer some real incentives to keep it there. Additionally, the sailors are incentivized to do this, because a lot of career milestones in our sea intensive ratings occur at sea or while deployed.”
The Detailing Marketplace Assignment Policy is set to replace Sea Shore Flow, which was last updated in 2019. Under that policy, sea tours were a maximum of five years and sailors had the option to extend.
But the Navy has found that Sea Shore Flow has led to gaps in sea-intensive ratings, which is “amplifying the already arduous nature of sea duty,” the NAVADMIN said. The ramifications of those gaps include difficulties in implementing circadian rhythm watch bills, degraded materiel readiness and limited training times.
The new policy aims to fix this problem by “eliminating the maximum sea duty tour length constraint and redistributing sailors,” the NAVADMIN said.
“By rolling them to shore at five years, per our policy, we’re creating policy-induced gaps at sea, and basically rolling experience ashore before we would really like to, in recognition of the fact that more than five years on sea is a commitment … it’s a change in the way that we manage the fleet,” Rear Adm. James Waters III, director of military personnel, plans and policy, told reporters.
“We sought a policy solution to encourage sailors to stay at sea and fill those critical, critical gaps in a way that reflects our commitment to them and respects the decision to stay at sea,” Waters said.
The monetary incentives range from $200 a month to $800 a month as part of Detailing Marketplace incentive pay — averaging out to approximately $500 each month, Waters said. The exact amount is contingent upon the location and type of sea duty, and can be modified depending on the popularity of the duty station or other factors.
That incentive pay is separate from the $21,300 sailors assigned to ships company earn over the course of their three-year E-5 journeyman tour as part of career sea pay and and sea pay premium, the NAVADMIN notes.
But the financial incentives aren’t the only perk for sailors, Koshoffer said, citing the geographic stability and advancement opportunities for sailors. For example, some sailors could advance to E-5 sooner by completing another sea tour, rather than remaining an E-4 on a shore tour.
Additionally, sailors may stay at the same command or move to a different command “to best maximize value to sailors and the fleet,” the NAVADMIN said.
“The money is nice. The advancement is very nice,” Koshoffer said. “And perhaps the stability is also much desired.”
Phase one of DMAP is slated to kick off in March 2022, and is expected to last from nine months to a year — perhaps even longer, according to Waters. The Navy has not established a set number of phases for unveiling DMAP, and will adjust based on the response from the fleet.
“As we work this and observe and get feedback from the sailors and their commands, we’ll make determinations about how many steps we’ll take to get to full implementation across the fleet,” Waters said.
The first phase of DMAP will be available to the following ratings: aviation boatswain’s mate (fuel); aviation boatswain’s mate (aircraft handling); gas turbine system technicians (mechanical), and culinary specialist.
Although DMAP will be the official policy, sailors in other ratings will continue to follow the previous guidance outlined in Sea Shore Flow until the new policy takes effect fleetwide.
Specific numbers will vary by rating, but the Navy said that there will be approximately 250 sailors in each rating who take on that additional three-year sea tour.
“Lessons learned from DMAP Phase I will inform subsequent phases and the expansion of Detailing Marketplace incentive options to sailors in additional ratings,” the NAVADMIN said.