Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert, right, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens address the fleet Thursday during an all-hands call celebrating the fleet's 237th birthday -- two days early. (Navy)
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The Navy's top officer said Thursday that the service will continue stationing two aircraft carriers in 5th Fleet through March, a standing requirement that has pushed the fleet's pace and one that officials are tracking closely.
"Our country needs us and we are ready to respond," Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert said in response to a sailor's question in as part of a virtual all-hands call. The average carrier strike group deployment will be eight to 8½ months long, Greenert said.
"The ships that have responded up to date have been in their deployment or sustainment phase," Greenert said. "For deployments past March, we'll look very closely on where those ships stand in their training and maintenance cycles. The [operational tempo] of ships and individual sailors will be significant factors as we look at this."
Greenert's comments came during an online q-and-a session co-hosted by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (AW/NAC) Mike Stevens two days before the Navy's 237th birthday. Sailors' questions, submitted via email and online chat, addressed issues ranging from long deployments and increased op tempo to uniforms and manpower policies.
In response to one question, Greenert said the Navy plans to ask Congress for further authority to use 15-year retirements — which were granted to http://www.navytimes.com/news/2012/01/navy-erb-sailors-will-get-15-year-retirements-012012w/">sailors separated via enlisted retention boards earlier this year — but that the service had no plans to use the authority.
"I want that tool in the tool bag to balance the force as necessary, but I don't think we need it right now," Greenert said, adding that efforts like the ERBs and Perform-to-Serve had successfully reduced the number of overmanned ratings, boosting promotion rates.
On the subject of uniforms, Stevens moved to squelch speculation that the Navy may dump the blue-and-gray version of the Navy Working Uniform, an idea first put forward by a uniform board member in a http://www.navytimes.com/prime/2012/08/PRIMEnavy-top-level-talks-to-eliminate-blue-nwus-082712/">Navy Times cover story.
"We have no plan to discontinue the NWU Type 1 uniform," Stevens said. "We understand these are not perfect uniforms in all situations, but the plan is to continue to wear the NWU and become experts in where and how we wear it."