Some helicopter rescue swimmers will receive up to $2,400 after an administrative error cost them up to 16 months of special duty assignment pay. (MC3 Gregory A. Harden II / Navy)
A handful of helicopter rescue swimmers and air traffic controllers are getting a big — and unexpected — payout.
They’ll collect as many as 16 months of mistakenly withheld special duty assignment pay, the Navy said in a fleetwide message, NAVADMIN 156/14, released July 7.
The message said that eligible sailors at four commands would qualify for the back pay that could put as much as $2,400 in their pockets because of “administrative errors” in the SDAP update released in March 2013 — the last time the service updated these pay levels.
But when asked about the administrative errors mentioned in the message, Capt. Chris Halton, head of career progression at the Navy Personnel Command, said in a written response that the back pay came after “input from the fleet” and that less than 30 sailors would get the back SDAP.
“The [unit identification codes] listed in Paragraph 7 [of NAVADMIN 156/14] were not on the previous NAVADMIN,” Halton wrote. “After input from the fleet, the Navy made a decision that these billets would be added to the next NAVADMIN and authorized back pay.”
Halton didn’t say what the fleet input was, nor did he specify what errors led the pay to be withheld or how officials would prevent this from happening again.
However, sources tell Navy Times that the commands and skills were inadvertently left off the list last year and that the back pay was authorized to make up for the mistake.
In addition to the two skills apparently left off the 2013 update in error, two skills were added to the list. Naval special warfare parachute riggers came on the list at the $150 per month level and tactical counter-intelligence/human intelligence analysts will get $225.
SDAP is tied to the billet a sailor is filling, although in some cases a specific Navy Enlisted Classification is required, too.
This year, the Navy says 25,681 sailors at 1,382 commands are in billets that qualify for SDAP, which is available to sailors in jobs defined by the Navy as extremely difficult or involving an unusual degree of responsibility.
The Navy announced changes to the following special duty incentive pay levels in a fleetwide message, NAVADMIN 156/14, released July 7:
|Billet||Old pay level||New pay level||Billet identification|
|JSOC||$225||$225, $450||JSOC headquarters|
|ACWS||$75, $150||$75, $150, $300||Air traffic controller supervisor|
|7815||$150||$225||Helo rescue swimmer (aw)|
|7353||New||$150||NSW parachute rigger|
|3913||New||$225||Navy tactical CI/HUMINT analyst|
|CTIO||$300, $375, $450||$450||Crypto tactical info. operatives|
|NSWS||$225||$150, $225||IT/ET comm. support|
|MSWF||$75||$150||Strategic weapons facility|
In addition, sailors with the following unit identification codes will be eligible for back pay at the following levels, because of what the Navy called “administrative errors”:
|ACWS||$150||Air traffic controller||03369 (4)|
|7815||$150||Helo rescue swimmer (AW)||30734, 61331, 55600|