The Navy is aiming to retain more enlisted sailors in nuclear ratings by increasing their initial sea tour length so that sailors reenlisting sign on for a shore tour.
Sailors in the nuclear community previously completed a 48-month sea tour following their training, these sailors will now undergo 54-month initial sea tours, the Navy announced this month.
“The additional sixth months at sea gives Sailors more time to earn higher level qualifications such as Engineering Watch Supervisor and Propulsion Plant Watch Supervisor on their first sea tours,” the Navy said in a news release. “Also, it increases the chances of serving in senior leadership positions on their first sea tour. Increased sea manning also gives commands more flexibility in setting at-sea watchbills.”
The objective is to enhance retention for Zone B sailors — those with six to 10 years of service under their belt — in the nuclear field after the service found it wasn’t hitting its retention goals for these sailors, the Navy said.
Among both the surface and submarine nuclear communities, the Navy retained only 76 percent of its Zone B goal in FY21, a naval administrative message said.
“The change allows Sailors to reenlist for shore duty without obligating themselves for their second sea tour, a move that should benefit Sailors by allowing them to reenlist for their first shore tours and collect a reenlistment bonus in Zone B without committing them to additional sea duty,” the Navy said.
The change, which took effect Feb. 1, means that all sailors coming out of the training pipeline heading into nuclear propulsion ratings will have a 54-month sea tour, as will those who, as of April 1, 2022, still have more than 16 months left in their initial sea tour.
Sailors already in the Navy with a projected rotation date within 12-14 months of April 1 will now complete a 50-month sea tour, and those with a projected rotation date within 14-16 months will conduct a 52-month sea tour.
Meanwhile, the Navy is moving toward keeping sailors at sea for longer periods to address gaps at sea, and is rolling out a new enlisted career management policy effective next month. The Detailing Marketplace Assignment Policy, which offers financial and other benefits to sailors who extend their sea duty tour, is available to sailors, E-4 and below, who wrap up a four-year apprentice sea tour and then sign on for another three-year journeyman sea tour as an E-5.
The first phase of DMAP will become available to the following ratings: aviation boatswain’s mate (fuel); aviation boatswain’s mate (aircraft handling); gas turbine system technicians (mechanical), and culinary specialist. The goal is to expand DMAP through multiple phases until it takes effect fleet-wide.