Navy personnel officials announced the elimination of E-4 advancement exams in 20 high-tech ratings that automatically advance all sailors to petty officer once the initial training pipeline is completed.

The Navy has also given commanding officers the ability to reinstate sailors deemed to be “back on track” to E-4 after being busted down from all ratings to E-3.

The changes, which go into effect Dec. 1, were announced today an a NAVADMIN.

“Our profession relies on trust and confidence up and down the chain of command and we expect our COs to make decisions that are ultimately aimed at developing our Sailors’ character and competence — changes like these help us do just that,” said Vice Adm. Robert Burke, the chief of naval personnel, in a press release.

“These changes are part of our Sailor 2025 and Rating Modernization initiatives, which are aimed at empowering our COs and streamlining policies where it makes sense,”

The efforts are related, Burke wrote in the message, but are not part of any cost-saving efforts. Personnel officials told Navy Times the move is a result of ongoing reforms to the advancement system made by a panel looking to find ways to improve enlisted advancements, particularly in the petty officer ranks.

Once the policy goes into effect, COs can reinstate sailors to E-4 after a minimum wait of six months, as long as the rank reduction came as a result of minor offenses, not a non-judicial punishment.

COs will be the sole authority in approving reinstatement, and under no circumstances are COs obligated to reinstate an individual if they deem it unwarranted, the message said.

The policy is not to be confused with the concept of a “suspended bust,” when a sailor keeps the current rank and is only knocked down a peg if another offense is committed.

Beyond the required six-month wait, the rule allows COs the flexibility to further delay reinstatement until they feel the sailor is ready.

The exam elimination will begin with the Spring 2018 petty office advancement cycle.

The following are 20 ratings from the advanced electronics, advanced technical and nuclear programs that will be eliminated:

  • AWF - Naval Aircrewmen (Mechanical)
  • AWO - Naval Aircrewmen (Operator)
  • AWR - Naval Aircrewmen (Tactical Helicopter)
  • AWS - Naval Aircrewmen (Helicopter)
  • AWV - Naval Aircrewmen (Avionics)
  • CTI - Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 
  • CTN - Cryptologic Technician (Networks)
  • EMN - Electrician’s Mate (Nuclear)
  • EOD - Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician
  • ET - Electronics Technician
  • ETN - Electronics Technician (Nuclear)
  • FC - Fire Controlman
  • FCA - Fire Controlman (Aegis)
  • IS - Intelligence Specialist
  • ITS - Information Systems Technician (Submarine)
  • MMN - Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear)
  • MT - Missile Technician
  • ND - Navy Diver
  • SB - Special Warfare Boat Operator
  • SO - Special Warfare Operator

Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.

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