USA: New, Expanded Programs to Place Sailors in Critical Sea Billets, Ensure Readiness
The Navy is aggressively addressing gaps at sea and working to place Sailors with the right experience levels and skill sets into high-priority Fleet billets via several new and expanded initiatives announced, July 26.
“The Navy is built on three tenets: Warfighting First, Operate Forward and Be Ready. These three tenets rely upon the Navy having people in warfighting billets,” said Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk, Chief of Naval Personnel. “We have worked to stabilize the size of the Force over the past few years and ensure the right paygrade mix of Sailors in each individual rating, but currently nearly one third of our enlisted ratings remain undermanned due to perennial retention challenges. Combined with our normal numbers of Sailors on limited duty, operational deferment, in training and transit, we have critical gaps at sea that need to be immediately addressed.”
“As our Navy is in ever-increasing demand around the world, filling these gap billets at sea has become more critical,” continued Van Buskirk. “The gapped billets at sea that affect our operational readiness often require our most senior Sailors, E5 and above, in our undermanned critical skills ratings. Although we have significantly improved our balance, we must distribute the available Sailors to our top-priority billets at sea.”
Navy’s efforts to ensure high-priority billets at sea are manned are a continual focus. Over the past six months, Navy introduced several voluntary and structural measures to improve at-sea manning, including the Voluntary Sea Duty Program (VSDP), expanded Sea Duty Incentive Pay (SDIP), adding additional sea duty billets in future years, and increasing accessions. While these actions gain traction, Navy determined additional measures were necessary to reduce gaps in critical skills and needed deckplate leadership on units about to deploy.
To address these sea duty manning challenges, and to match the right Sailors who have the right skills with the priority jobs at sea, the Navy is utilizing several short- and long-term initiatives, including:
– Changes to Career Management System Interactive Detailing or CMS/ID, announced in NAVADMIN 226/12. Beginning with the August 2012 CMS/ID cycle, a single set of sea and shore billets, prioritized by U.S. Fleet Forces Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Navy Personnel Command to reflect the highest-priority Fleet billets, will be advertised. Detailers will fill all advertised billets each cycle, and Fleet readiness will be the ultimate factor in filling assignments and this change ensures the highest-priority requirements are filled.
– Limited Directed Detailing, announced in NAVADMIN 227/12. Over the next few months, Navy will detail selected Sailors with critical skills back to operational sea duty early. Under the limited directed detailing initiative, Sailors who have completed a minimum of 24 months on shore duty may be contacted by their detailer and directed back to a sea duty assignment prior to their projected rotation date. This initiative will target between 200 and 400 Sailors who have the required critical skills, leadership and experience needed at sea now to improve manning on Navy’s imminent deployers.
– Chief Petty Officer (CPO) Early Return to Sea program, announced in NAVADMIN 230/12. Navy will curtail the shore duty of selected senior enlisted Sailors of ranks E7 to E9 and detail them back to sea to fill operational billets that cannot be filled by rotating Sailors. This program is an update to the previous CPO to Sea program, and is designed to ensure high-priority senior leadership positions at sea are manned for operational readiness.
– Expansion of the Voluntary Sea Duty Program, announced in NAVADMIN 229/12. The Navy is extending the Voluntary Sea Duty Program for an additional year and adding High-Year Tenure waiver consideration as an incentive for senior enlisted Sailors who volunteer. Originally announced in January 2012, and updated in NAVADMIN 205/12, VSDP encourages highly-trained and motivated Sailors to voluntarily extend their enlistment in their current sea duty billet beyond their prescribed sea tour, to terminate shore duty and accept new orders to a sea duty billet, or to accept back-to-back sea duty orders beyond their prescribed sea/shore flow. Other benefits of VSDP include; geographic choice and stability; PTS deferment; and Sea Duty Incentive Pay, when eligible.
“With programs like Limited Directed Detailing, CPO Early Return to Sea, Voluntary Sea Duty Program, and changes to CMS/ID, we’re aiming to be more aggressive in the distribution process. These actions should reduce the short-notice actions to man high-priority billets, such as cross-decking and diverts,” said Van Buskirk. “I highly encourage Sailors to be proactive, speak with their chain of command, and consider all the voluntary measures Navy has in place to pursue sea duty. Professionally, volunteering may offer additional training opportunities, and sustained superior performance at sea is the hallmark for top evaluations and advancement opportunities.”
Naval Today Staff, July 30, 2012; Image: US Navy