The Navy is making opportunities available for current sailors to extend enlistments and veterans to return to the fleet as measures to boost manning during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

The service’s decision comes in the wake of a DoD-wide order to suspend all travel, deployments, and exercises across the entire military as the Pentagon struggles to stifle spread of the virus.

“The Navy is on a deliberate path to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and maintain operational, Sailor and family readiness,” Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. John B. Nowell said in a Navy release Thursday.

The service hopes these measures will mitigate some of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and “provide stability to both the Navy and our families,” Nowell said.

For veteran personnel, the Navy’s announcement emphasized the return of recently-separated enlisted and officers. Sailors who have been out of uniform longer, however, are still being encouraged to discuss their options with a prior-service recruiter.

The extension options offered, meanwhile, could open doors for numerous personnel who stand at a crossroads in their Navy careers.

Sailors who have been approved for a date of separation or retirement prior to April 1, 2021, can request to have that date delayed for a time period of six months to a year, the Navy announced.

Extensions will be prioritized for sailors who agree to remain in critical billets and those currently on sea duty, the release said.

In such a scenario, more than 90 ratings would qualify for an extra $400 to $1,000 per month.

Sailors can submit extension requests through their MyNavy Career Center or online on the MyNavy Portal, where personnel can also monitor a continually updated list of which ratings qualify as mission-critical.

The deadline to submit requests is July 1.

In addition to sailors with the aforementioned separation dates, personnel who are approaching a high-year tenure date will also be eligible to extend their time in uniform.

Notably, those high-year tenure sailors who occupy mission-critical billets can apply to remain in the service for up to another year, the release said.

And due to the suspension of the spring physical fitness test, sailors with two or more physical fitness failures will now be eligible to take their fitness tests in the fall — along with their respective exams.

Sailors facing mandatory separation due to age or misconduct, as well as officers who have failed twice to be selected for promotion, will not be eligible for the extension policy, the release said.

Additional contact information for personnel interested in extending or returning can be found on Thursday’s NAVADMIN.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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